Protein per meal, the bro debate ended
A month ago the Journal of International Sports Science and Nutrition published research to end a hell of a debate. How much protein can you digest in a single meal? There is an old thought that 20-25g of high quality protein per meal is the upper limit of what can be digested in a meal.
JISSN publication found HERE
The issue, like is mentioned in the journal, is that this depends on a high absorption protein and being in a fasted state. The researchers also mention that if you do eat more than 20g of protein that there is an increase in Amino Acid Oxidization but it doesn’t mean that ABSOLUTELY ALL of the protein you eat past that 20g is oxidized. It just means there’s a higher rate of oxidization, not absolute oxidization of all excess protein.
They also talk about dose of protein. There was a study that used a bolus dose of 40g of protein in the form of whey. The researchers noted that there was a higher level of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) with a big dose but there was also a higher rate of Amino Acid (AA) Oxidization. They postulate that with a slower to absorb protein, like with eggs, that there will be less of a MPS increase but also much less AA Oxidization because of there not being a high spike of AA in the blood.
There is also the detail that if you eat your protein with other foods this will slow absorption to some degree and therefore may make a fast digesting protein more similar to an eggs speed of digestion because of the other nutrients. So as much as all of this makes total sense within the bounds of structured research, it then becomes more blurry when actually in the real world.
“SO HOW MUCH DAMN PROTEIN DO I EAT PER MEAL!?”
Here’s what the most current research suggests. 1.6g/kg/day is the recommended amount if building muscle is the goal. The researchers suggest to split this over 4 meals at a minimum for the day. This is the suggestion to avoid too much AA oxidization but at the same time stimulating maximum MPS and protein retention in the body. That makes for 0.4g/kg/meal.
If you are going, “well I’m obviously above the average and need more!” Then no problemo, the research has your back there too. The upper confidence interval for the research is 2.2g/kg/day which is 0.55g/meal/day.
My personal suggestion if trying to reach the upper CI of protein consumption would be to do 0.45g/kg/meal by five meals in the day. This should keep the AA oxidization similar to the 1.6g/kg/day model, but also give you 2.2.5g/kg/day and keep you right on the money with the upper CI of building muscle. Please also note that these numbers were for young male athletes. The demand for protein doesn’t get much higher than that demographic, so again have confidence that 2.2g/kg/day is all you need if you’re trying to naturally build muscle. The use of AAS obviously doesn’t fall in this research. If you’re an enhanced athlete then you will need more than what is in this research.
90kg male (about 200lbs) would be 40g of protein across 5 meals to be at the upper CI of research
55kg female (about 120 lbs) would be 25g of protein across 5 meals to be the upper CI of research.
It should be noted that this is all done by total body weight and does not take into account body fat percentage. There is some research for that too that supports a similar number of 1.4g/lb/LBM and that research can be found HERE
Hope this has all shed some insight! Feel free to contact me with any questions!