Well all know those guys who eat a protein meal every 3 hours to keep themselves ‘anabolic.’
They’ve been told at some point that this is the optimal way to eat since the body can only absorb 30g of protein per meal.
This is just wrong. And very recent new evidence helps blow this theory away. In fact, it suggests quite the opposite. Keep reading…
Think about it: if this where true, any protein above 30g would be wasted and you’d end up not getting enough protein to build muscle.
For example, a guy eating 3 larger meals a day with 60g protein per serving, would actually only be making use of just 90g per day (3 x 30g).
Thankfully, this is nonsense.
However, some bros still won’t believe it even when the evidence is presented to them. Oh well, if they want to make their life burdensome for no reason whatsoever, you gotta let them get on with it.
I stated back in 2011 (in this article) that protein absorbs very slowly over many hours (especially from solid food).
You don’t need to worry about overconsuming protein in a single meal because your body can and will use it.
If you ate a steak containing 60g protein, your body will use it. This is because protein from a whole food source digests pretty slowly. You’d still be getting the benefit from that steak many hours from now.
An educated guess for the rate for absorption here would be 4-5g per hour for the steak. However, couple it with the fibrous veggies and whatever else might have been on the plate, and you’re probably talking around just 3-4g of protein being delivered per hour.
A whey protein shake in water on an empty stomach will deliver your protein much faster at about 10g per hour.
Either way you slice it, the idea that you’ll turn catabolic if you don’t eat 25-30g of protein every 3 hrs is just not true. You will still be in an anabolic environment long after 3 hours has passed if you have consumed enough protein i.e. amino acids will still be being released and shuttled to your muscles.
For more on this, see my article ‘How Much Protein Can The Body Absorb In 1 Sitting?‘. And for some top-notch scientific research to prove this point, check out Alan Aragon’s article on protein absorption here.You don't need to eat protein every 3 hrs to build muscle. It's unnecessary. Click here to learn more Click To Tweet
But now there’s new evidence (October 2015) suggesting that your gains could be even better with less frequent meals containing more protein per serving. 70g to be exact.
STUDY TITLE: The anabolic response to a meal containing different amounts of protein is not limited by the maximal stimulation of protein synthesis in healthy young adults 
23 young, trained men were divided into 2 groups.
Both groups performed resistance training, but one group consumed 40g protein per serving, the other taking in a larger 70g dose.
The researchers then measured:
- Protein synthesis levels
- Protein breakdown levels
- Nitrogen balance
As far as bodybuilders are concerned, we want the highest levels of protein synthesis possible, the lowest levels of protein breakdown, and the most positive nitrogen balance.
While both groups saw positive changes, the 70g group experienced superior results.
The 70g protein group saw a more positive nitrogen balance, resulting from lower levels of protein breakdown, and higher levels of protein synthesis.
The researchers concluded:
“Whole body net protein balance improves with greater protein intake above that previously suggested to maximally stimulating muscle protein synthesis because of a simultaneous reduction in protein breakdown.”
NOTE: the intake that previously was thought to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis was 40g per serving. That’s why they used this level.
This would need to be studied more with more groups of people to come to a full conclusion. For example, over the course of a month, would eating more often with smaller amounts of protein end up producing the same gains through less protein synthesis, but more frequent increases?
It’s hard to tell, but what is for sure is this: eating less often per day is just as effective as eating small meals every 3 hours when you end up getting the same protein and calories over a 24hr period.
Heck, it might even be more effective. But for sure, if you’re still living under the stress of eating 6 or more meals per day, you should free yourself of that burden once and for all.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN
So if the total protein over a 24hr period is the critical factor, how much do we need for optimal gains:
Consume 1g of Protein per Pound of Body Weight
So if you weigh 180lbs, consume 180g of protein per day.To build muscle consume 1g protein for every lb bodyweight eg 180lbs=180g protein Click To Tweet
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P.S. Want easy high-protein recipes? With easy-to-make protein-packed recipes to fuel your muscle growth, MuscleHack Buff Baking makes eating healthy feel like a cheat meal. There’s pancakes, peanut butter cookies, ice cream, “strong man’s” sausage bake, chocolate cake, “popcorn” chicken and many more! Check it out here.
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Reference:  Il-Young Kim et al. The anabolic response to a meal containing different amounts of protein is not limited by the maximal stimulation of protein synthesis in healthy young adults. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism Published 3 November 2015.
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