There are three types of muscles in the human body: Skeletal Muscle, Smooth Muscle and Cardiac Muscle (heart muscle).

Among them, we focus on the weight gain of skeletal muscles only.

Skeletal muscles contain approximately 75% water, 20% protein, 1–10% fat, and 1% glycogen. [Section-3]

From these facts, if I kept the water aside. Then is it only the protein that is required for muscle growth? Since fat and glycogen are in minor amounts, discard them. Am I missing anything? I mean are there any other sources to build muscle gain along with protein?

  • Is cardiac muscle not smooth muscle? I did not know it was considered to be a class of its own. Mar 17, 2019 at 19:12

3 Answers 3


Yes you need lots of other things, minerals, vitamins, essential fats, carbohydrates. These are needed to build muscle and also to stay alive, while the muscle building happens.

That's why should keep a proper healthy diet, and with healthy I mean what's very commonly healthy: veggies, fruits, whole grain, then you can add additional protein to your diet.

  • These are needed to build muscle , why if muscle is made up of protein?
    – hanugm
    Mar 8, 2019 at 8:53
  • 8
    because your muscles are not made by attaching ground beef to your arms, the proteins are taken apart and rebuild and these intermediate steps needs nutrients to work. Also muscles are not 100% protein.
    – Christian
    Mar 8, 2019 at 9:04
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    Also you can't build muscle if you're malnourished and/or die.
    – DeeV
    Mar 8, 2019 at 15:31
  • But all these are for the process and are not helpful directly for muscle building.
    – hanugm
    Mar 8, 2019 at 22:32
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    You no eat vitamin, you no build muscle. Doesnt get more direct.
    – Christian
    Mar 9, 2019 at 8:16

Think of it this way:

Picture your muscle as a brick wall. The muscle fibers are the bricks, and the connective tissue the mortar. Now near the wall, you have a huge lump of clay, which is the equivalent of protein.

For the protein to be of any use, it has to be turned into a brick. This is what your body does with proteins, is it denatures them, breaks them apart into amino acids, which get routed via the liver to the muscles that need repair. Once it gets there, structures in the muscle cells take the amino acids and weave them into muscle fibers (Bricks) that they then use to rebuild the wall (Muscle). All of this takes energy (glucose), and the other elements (vitamins, minerals, etc) are also used to help build/maintain the connective tissue.

So in the strictest, most elemental sense, yes, protein is what is used to fix/repair/build muscle itself. However none of that will happen without the other elements as well.


Yes, protein is clear and needed. No question about it. However, we need fats too. If we don't take enough fat in, our hormones will not work properly 1. As far as I know tho, there are no essential carbohydrates. Therefore, I believe one can build muscle without eating any carbs. However, it would not be feasible, and one would need to eat the adequate amount of calories needed to build muscle without carbs. But theoretically, eating protein and fat (healthy ones) would be enough to build muscle.

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