Protein Intake and Timing

Author: Anshul Dhamande, INFS Faculty, Standard Coach @ Fittr

Does Protein Timing Really Matter for Building Muscle?

The most discussed macro nutrient among fitness enthusiasts is protein. And yet there is so much confusion regarding protein timing and quantity. The following questions are frequently asked in the fitness communities: When is the best time to consume protein? Would one lose their ‘gains’ if they went without protein for a couple of hours or gain an additional pound or two of muscle if they consumed extra protein? How much quantity can one consume per meal? Can one eat their protein all in one go? If you too have similar doubts, read on to know what the science has to say.

The myths

Everyone, at least once in their lifetime, must have come across statements like – “The body can digest only 20 g of protein at a time!”, “If you do not drink protein within 30 minutes of workout, you will be wasted”, “If you went few hours without protein, you will lose muscle”, etc. There are quite a few myths regarding absorption, the timing of protein intake and even the type of protein to maximise muscle growth.

BUsting the myths

Contrary to what most people believe in, nearly almost all the ingested protein is ABSORBED by healthy humans. Even if you eat 200 grams of protein in one sitting, almost all of it will be absorbed by the body, only that, the additional protein which exceeds your TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure, will be stored as fat.

There is no standard one size(quantity) fits all and the amount of protein one needs depends on factors like weight, goal, level of physical activity etc. The protein needs for a person who has desk job and does light exercise are totally different from a person who is bulking for a competition.

There is no need to have protein every few hours with the fear of losing muscle, as long as you are eating enough protein every day. And you need not be obsessed about gulping down protein shake immediately after a work out as you’ll get more results from proper protein consumption throughout the day than you will from one well-timed protein shake after your workout.

the science

A review article in 2015 stated that with the increase in protein, there was however, a limit to its effect on muscle growth i.e, more amount of protein wont necessarily mean more Muscle Protein Synthesis(MPS).

Hence a generalised dosage of protein was found to 0.4gm/kg/meal to maximise the muscle protein synthesis response.

Conclusion

With the current literature & studies that are available, it’s safe to summarise that the most important factor is to complete the required intake throughout the day.

In order to maximise muscle growth, the best way is to divide the protein intake equally in three to four meals spread throughtout the day.

 The quantity of protein that one consumes throughout the entire day is far more important for muscle growth than when they consumed it.

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