How much protein can you digest in one sitting?Posted by Joel Marion
Research is good and research is bad.
Research is good because it can teach us a LOT.
Research is bad because most people don’t understand how to take the results of a study and analyze beyond the study to see how it fits in the big picture.
Fortunately, I will help do both with regards to the below study.
So, a team of researchers sought out to discover some stuff about protein:
J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep;109(9):1582-6.
A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects.
Basically, they wanted to see if a 90 gram serving of protein (about the equivalent of 12 oz of grilled chicken breast) would elicit a greater muscle building response when compared to a 30 gram serving (approximately 4 oz of grilled chicken, beef, etc).
The answer: No.
The conclusion: Your body can utilize approximately 30 grams of protein for muscle building purposes at a time. Elite athletes and bodybuilders, perhaps a bit more.
So, does this mean that you should only eat 30 grams of protein per meal regardless of your calorie needs?
There are other factors that should be considered when determining your protein intake, independent of how much of that protein is able to fuel the muscle building process.
What we can, however, learn from this study is a very general rule:
It’s best to spread your protein intake out throughout the day, ala 6 meals with smaller protein portions than 3 meals with larger portions, because yes, there seems to be an upper limit to the amount of protein that the body can use toward rebuilding or building muscle at any one time.
Now, that number could certainly change based on whether the group was participating in regular, intense resistance training — I’m betting the amount would go up. Perhaps 40 grams on average…maybe more.
Either way, you’re probably going to get better results by splitting it up over the course of the day.
Later this week, I’ll be back to answer the question “How much protein do I actually need anyway?”
And I think you’ll be surprised by the answer.
If you’d like to see that article, do two things for me:
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At least 100 comments and I’ll be back later in the week with the “How much protein do I really need?” article.
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