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Muscle Protein Synthesis; Protein Intake Limit for Exercise Enthusiast.

It has long been debated the amount of protein the body can digest / process in any given meal (especially among exercise enthusiasts). There is good reason as well. The debate effects practical protein intake recommendations for athletes, cyclists and bodybuilders, through to armature weightlifters and beyond.

Shedding some light on the matter is the A to Z of Nutritional Supplements” series in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (the part on protein was co-authored by no one else but Stuart Phillips). According to the chapter, “current scientific evidence” suggests that :

  1. daily protein intakes should be higher than the RDA (recommended dietary allowances), to be precise, 1.2-1.6g/kg body weight,
  2. there should be an emphasis on leucine-rich protein sources
  3. athletes should consumer multiple servings of 20-25g of protein / protein-rich foods spread equally across the day,
  4. an extra protein shake should be consumed immediately after your workout

“this should be very effective at allowing repair, remodelling and adaptation, and gains in lean mass in athletes” (Phillips. 2012). Stu’s advice on keeping protein servings to around 20-25g seems to be supported by another study which investigated the anabolic response to eating 113g of lean beef vs. a 340g serve.

The author findings are reported below:
Muscle Protein Synthesis; Protein Intake Limit for Exercise Enthusiast.“A 113 g serving of lean beef increased muscle protein synthesis by approximately 50% in both young and older volunteers. Despite a 3-fold increase in protein and energy content, there was no further increase in protein synthesis following ingestion of 340 g of lean beef in either age group. Ingestion of more than 30 g of protein in a single meal does not further enhance the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly”
Supplement manufactures seem to have reviewed these studies, for instance, optimum nutrition 100% gold standard whey offers 22g of protein per serve.

When it comes to how much protein should be consumed in each sitting there is of course another side to the argument. In a recent research review on whether there is a limit to how much protein the body can use in a single meal, the prominent nutrition expert Alan Aragorn made the following commentary: “Based on the available evidence, it’s false to assume that the body can only use a certain amount of protein per meal.” “The human body is more efficient and effective than we give it credit for. The body will take all the sweet time it needs to effectively digest and absorb just about whatever dose [of protein] you give it.” Alan goes on to outline numerous intermittent fasting studies where subjects participating consume upwards of 100g of protein within a 4 hour window ONLY.

These subjects had more favourable muscle-building indicators than those people spreading ingested protein across a number of meals. So what to believe? Usually (like most things in life) when there are two opposing viewpoints the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. It is clear now that there is no need to have huge servings of protein every meal (particularly post workout), when we have seen that 20 – 30g will suffice.

That being said, it would be unnecessary to eat a meal every 3 and restrict those feeds to ONLY consume 30g of protein.  The take home advice is to consume your protein liberally (and reasonably often), making sure you reach the 1.2-1.6g/kg body weight recommendation across the day.

Article provided by  SeriousSupplements , Australia. 

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