Based on absorption, how much protein should you be ingesting per meal?
There is a popular (mis)belief that the human body can't absorb more than 30 grams of protein protein per meal. I remember back in my swimmer days that my coach told us that our body couldn't handle more than 25 grams of protein at a time, it wouldn't know what to do with the excess and it would make us sick. But then again, he also told us to eat carbs before and after practice, and to load up on spaghetti the night before swim meets.... I am going to channel my inner Professor Platek and look at this from an evolutionary point of view. In ancient human history, could our bodies really only handle 25 grams of protein at one time?
Science and common sense seems to refute this claim.
Researchers in France have found that eating protein all at once can be just as well absorbed as spreading it it out over your day. A group of 26 year old women were given either 80% of their protein for the day at one meal or spread over multiple meals. After two weeks, there was no difference between the subject and control groups, in terms of nitrogen balance, whole body protein turnover, whole body protein synthesis, or protein breakdown.
|Huh, Soy is way down the list....Who knew?|
The experiment was then repeated in older subjects, with whom, it turns out, eating protein all at once can actually lead to better protein retention. Giving elder women 80% of their protein for one day in a single meal for two weeks led to almost 20% more synthesis and retention of protein compared to dividing it in smaller doses.
It appears that daily protein is more important than per-meal protein. For some people though, including my wife, eating 80% of your protein in one meal just isn't going to happen (spouses can be stubborn, can't they?). In that case, I WOULD recommend protein at every meal, just to make sure they reach the daily dose.
|Stubborn as a mule.|
A good rule of thumb for daily intake: 1-2 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight. However, if you are currently lifting big and trying to get big, I suggest 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, which means you subtract your your bodyfat first.
Here are a few examples:
100lbs of LEAN mass= 125 grams of protein
120lbs = 150 grams
150 lbs = 187.5 grams
200lbs = 250 grams
Not gaining muscle? Here is a tip: Track your protein intake over 1 day. Then eat more.
Article excerpts taken from "The Hour Hour Body" by Tim Ferris.