How Much Protein Do Youth Weightlifters Need?

All weightlifters want to build more muscle, and building muscle requires protein.

But just how much protein is appropriate for a youth weightlifter?

According to Dr. Mark Lavallee, Chairman of the USA Weightlifting Sports Medicine Society, youth weightlifters should consume each day:

1 to 2 Grams of Protein per Kilogram of Lean Body Mass

Lean Body Mass is the amount of weight you carry on your body that is not fat.

Lean Body Mass = Body Weight – Body Fat

Written another way:

Lean Body Mass = Body Weight – (Body Weight x Body Fat %)

To determine your lean muscle mass, you must first know your body fat %.

How do you calculate body fat percentage?

There are several methods for calculating body fat.  Three of the most popular are:

Body Fat Scales

Body fat scales measure body composition by sending small electrical currents through the body.

Body fat scales use Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA).  A small, harmless electrical current passes through the body.  The current passes slower through fat and quicker through muscle.  The machine measures body density and then uses this reading to calculate a body fat percentage.

Are body fat scales accurate?  Not really.  Factors such as body type, body temperature, hydration, recent exercise, or even sweaty feet can produce inaccurate readings.

Skin Fold Calipers

Body fat can also be measured using a skin fold caliper.  Skin fold calipers are devices that measure the thickness of a fold of skin along with the underlying layer of fat.  A trained professional can measure your body fat, or you can attempt the process yourself with an online tutorial such as this one.

Are calipers accurate?  If administered properly, skin fold calipers can yield very accurate results.

Hydrostatic Weighing

One of the most accurate methods for determining body fat is the Bod Pod, which uses air displacement to measure body mass, volume and density.  This method is accurate but can be expensive at around $75 per session.

Other methods for determining body fat include taking measurements (not very accurate), water displacement (accurate, but hard to find and expensive), and DEXA scanning (accurate, but expensive at about $125 per session).

Lean Body Mass Calculator

Once you know your body fat, you can calculate your lean body mass

Lean Body Mass = Body Weight – (Body Weight x Body Fat %)


Body Weight = 45 kg    Body Fat % = 15%

Lean Body Mass = 45 – (45 x 0.15)

Lean Body Mass = 38.25 kg

If math is not your thing, you can use this this easy calculator created by to determine your lean body mass.

Protein Requirements

Now that you know your lean body mass in kilograms, strive to eat 1 to 2 times that in grams of protein each day.

For example,

An athlete who weighs 45 kg with a body fat of 15% would have a lean muscle mass of about 38 kg.

This athlete’s daily protein requirements would be 38g to 76g of protein.

Alert!  The body can only use a certain amount of protein for muscle building activities at a time.  So, it is wise to split up protein consumption throughout the day.

Here is a sample meal plan for this athlete—


For more tips on optimizing your athletic performance, read Health Mistakes Youth Weightlifters Make.



Body Fat Scales: Do They Really Work?” / Fitness. Accessed November 26, 2017.

How To Measure Your Body Fat % Using Calipers.” Muscle & Strength. November 22, 2017. Accessed November 26, 2017.

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