Protein is a macronutrient made up of little building blocks called Amino Acids. Amino Acids are kinda like legos and those legos form the structure of our muscles, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, hair, antibodies, hormones, enzymes, & both LDL and HDL cholesterol. Basically, we are protein and it's important that we eat plenty of it to have optimal health.
Most people realize protein helps with muscle development, but it's important to note that it also supports a healthy immune system, helps regulate blood sugar, and promotes a leaner healthier physique.
Everyday we put a strain on our muscles which causes them to breakdown. To repair and rebuild the damage, we must give them the necessary building materials aka. protein.
You may or may not have heard but there's a limit to how much protein your muscles can utilize in one sitting. You might actually be wasting precious protein because you're not eating it in the right doses.
Today's article covers how to maximize how much protein you eat so that your muscles can utilize every single gram.
The Rule of 25
A study in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explains that muscle protein synthesis is maximized at a protein dose of approximately 20 to 25 grams.
In other words your muscles are only going to use 20-25 grams of protein in one sitting. We call this the Rule of 25 to make it easier to remember.
It's important to note that, “one sitting” refers to a window of time between 1.5-2 hours. The body can absorb about 10 grams of fast-digesting proteins, like whey, each hour according to the study.
What Happens When You Consume More Than That?
Simply put, your muscles won't use it. If you eat 30+ grams of protein in a single sitting, your muscles will have enough of the building materials they need and so the excess protein will either be used up by other parts of the body as energy or it will get flushed away when you go to the bathroom.
Does that mean you should never eat more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting?
Not necessarily. One of the benefits of eating protein is how satiating it is. Satiety refers to how full something makes you feel. Sugar and protein have very different satiety levels. Want to test it? Try eating 100 grams of protein vs 100 grams of sugar and see how you feel. They both have the same amount of calories but the 100 grams of protein will have you feeling stuffed!
The point is, if you're trying to lose weight or even maintain a healthy lean body mass eating 30+ grams of protein in a single sitting isn't a waste because you're going to feel more full with less calories. You just have to realize that the excess protein won't be used by your muscles.
How to Maximize Protein Absorption
The key to maximize your protein absorption is to space out your protein consumption. Rather than eating your daily protein during one meal, eat a healthy portion at each meal and eat protein rich snacks throughout the day. They will help you crush cravings for empty calories and build lean muscle at the same time! If your goal is to build lean muscle or lose weight, this is a great habit to develop.
How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?
To survive, you're going to need about .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but we're here to thrive not just survive.
According to a 2018 study from the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, a healthy active lifestyle individual can optimally absorb 0.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight across four meals.
So to break that down, if you weigh 100 lbs and you ate 3 meals and 1 snack, you would want to shoot for around 25 grams of protein each time for a total of 100 grams of protein daily.
Note: You can space your protein intake out more, but for your muscles to maximally absorb the protein you won't want to eat more than that in one sitting.
On a daily basis this equates to an intake of 1 gram per pound of body weight, which you'll notice is much higher than the minimum requirement.
There are exceptions and differences...
In general, men require more protein than women.
Elderly people also have greater protein requirements. One study noted that elderly people should consume more protein to help prevent age related muscle breakdown such as sarcopenia.
Athletes also need more protein to counteract muscle breakdown and aid in recovery. Many athletes consume well over the 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight benchmark.
If you're an active lifestyle individual with no extreme needs, 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is a good place to start.
Not All Proteins Are Created Equal
Some proteins digest faster which means they can be absorbed by your muscles more quickly. The fastest digesting proteins are the ones that have been separated from their whole food source and turned into protein powder. That's why many people consume a protein powder mix after a workout and/or throughout their day.
We created ProLoco, a zero sugar protein-infused hydration drink mix because we saw a need for something that helped active lifestyle people stay hydrated and maximize their protein absorption at the same time!
To learn more about how you can maximize your protein absorption by drinking a light and refreshing protein-infused hydration drink, check out ProLoco!