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How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb Per Meal?


How much protein can you absorb in one sitting? One of the ongoing claims in the fitness industry
is that your body can only absorb a limited amount of protein at a time. The most popular of all is that you can only
absorb 30 grams per meal. Now, before we go any further, let’s dispel
this absorption limit right away. The body needs amino acids for virtually all
physiological functions, thus, will absorb almost all of the protein you consume. Heck, the small intestine alone will utilize
roughly half of all the amino acids in your body. Factor in protein needs of all other organs,
the notion that the body suddenly stops absorbing protein after 30 grams is completely misguided. But, the interest IS in building muscle. Even if our body can absorb all the protein,
how much of it will actually go to muscle growth? And this is perhaps where the bro science
caught on. Two studies in the matter did conclude a potential
limit to the rate of muscle protein synthesis. One found that, after a resistance training
bout, consuming 40 grams of whole egg protein in one meal did not stimulate muscle protein
synthesis more than 20 grams for active males. In another study, 30 grams of protein stimulated
protein synthesis as much as 90 grams of protein in one meal. But, there are glaring limitations to both
studies. In the first one, subjects only performed
12 sets of leg training, which might not be enough to optimally stimulate exercise-induced
protein synthesis signaling. On top of that, 20 grams of protein through
6 meals adds up to only 120 grams of protein per day, which goes against the heavy research
showing that greater muscle growth is achieved with much larger protein intakes. The second study simply falls short on overall
protein. At only 30 and 90 grams per day, we’re looking
at well below the needs of someone that trains regularly, especially larger men. Moreover, both were only single trial studies. Taking a look at a 2-week study, we see that
eating 80% of daily protein in one sitting increased protein synthesis more so than spreading
out protein evenly across 4 meals for elderly women. A follow-up study found no differences using
a similar protocol for young women. Considering that both were done with women
and no resistance training, suffice to say, active lifters, especially men, will have
a greater protein demand. But, let’s say that there is an actual 30-gram
limit to protein synthesis. It still ignores the other important part
to the muscle building equation: protein breakdown. When we look at the research in terms of protein
breakdown, we start piecing the whole picture together. A 2013 study comparing 70 grams of protein
per meal versus 40 grams of protein, with total daily protein equal, found, although
the 70-gram group only had a slight increase in protein synthesis, it significantly reduced
the rate of muscle breakdown. There was also one key difference in this
study. In the two first studies showing no benefit
to eating more protein per meal, subjects were in a fasted state and consumed protein
with nothing else.h In this study, as well as the previous studies
on women, subjects consumed their protein as part of a mixed whole meal, like the way
that we all usually eat. Mixed meals provide important changes that
might drastically improve protein absorption. One is that, in the presence of fats and protein,
the hormone cholecystokinin kicks in and rapidly slows down gastric emptying, giving your digestive
tract more time to absorb all the nutrients. Also, with the presence of carbs, insulin
levels will rise dramatically. Insulin drives not only energy fueling, but
also signals for protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown, shifting the body into
a complete anabolic state, optimal for muscle growth. And if we keep combing the research, we’ll
find no differences in net nitrogen balance, a measurement indicative of protein use in
the body, regardless of the amount of protein consumed per meal. And all of this information before even discussing
research on intermittent fasting. Long story short, IF’ers eating all of their
protein in a short amounth of time, also had no significant differences in terms of muscle
composition than subjects on a standard diet. So, let’s revisit the question: Is there
a protein limit for muscle growth? Yes, but it’s much higher than the mythical
30 grams, and quite possibly higher than any practical per-meal consumption. Best practice is to simply have protein in
all of your main meals and make sure you meet your total daily protein needs. End of the day, this is more of the constant
myths in the fitness industry. And like every other myth, there’s nothing
to see here. Share your thoughts on protein absorption
in the comments! As always, thank you for watching! Oh, and please click that bell notification
if you want to stay up to date with new video releases. Thank you!

William Babineau

100 Comments

  1. I eat 5 eggs with rice, potatoes and vegies, every day in the breakfast and I´m still alive :v

  2. I think there is no need to eat more than 35g of protein per meal.
    If I consume more than that, I start farting a lot!

  3. I think you should say a caveat, that consuming proteins usually comes with high fats, and that high fats and protein can cause other non-desirable effects on ones body. One should look at the whole body and not just muscle growth. Some studies say that too much protein can stimulate IGF-1 and cause a high probability of developing cancer. Not yet fully proven but pretty sure most guys after seeing this video will binge drink protein shakes believing they will get jacked. It promotes bad habits for young adults and teenagers. Well Balanced diet with lots of variety is key. Also there is a big problem with guys these days being concerned about being big instead of being healthy. Big Muscles doesn't necessarily mean better.

  4. What is the impact of protein rich diets on the kidneys? I always hear people who definatly don't lift, say it does damage due to the side of the protein molecules.

  5. Hi I have a question how important is the meal/diet the next day after hitting the gym?

  6. The Ad before the Video is telling me to stop watching YouTube Videos about building muscle and losing weight…

  7. so the majority of this video was completely irrelevant and was just time filler. single studies with strong limitations. 2 week studies on elderly and young women. None of those results are transferrable to muscle building men

  8. Muscle synthesis does not work when you eat carbs. HGH stimulates muscle growth which is absent in presence of insulin. (When in blood)

  9. Its only the roid heads that need a few hundred grams of proteins a day… Others have no use of it

  10. You know you are getting too much protein when you don't have diarrhea and your shit is orange.

  11. So we don't have to spread out our meals in a day and just make sure our daily protein intake is at around 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight?

  12. You need calories. Protein needs per meal is based on body weight, muscle mass, whether or not you are injured, and other factors.

  13. Your body absorbs less protein as you combine protein rich food with with other food as the other food hinders the absorption process.

  14. Can you make a video on when a weight lifter should inhale or exhale during their workout? Most recommend exhaling when pushing against gravity, but there's also advice on the opposite. Thanks for all your incredible videos! Keep up the good work 🙂

  15. What about different types of protein? Whey gets digested very fast.
    What about protein getting vonverted into energy and not helping with muscle growth?

  16. I still wouldn't have more than 40g per meal. 40g (30-40g) without other calories, 30g (25-35g) if you're having other calories with it.

  17. @PictureFit Whats you're opinion on taking sustained release protein right before bedtime?

  18. Ok then so if your training what is the max amount of protein your body can use?

  19. PictureFit you are waayyy more better than Jeff Nepard in explaining things ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Thank you

  20. He mentioned carbs help with protein absorption. But as far as I know one should avoid too much carbs. Does anyone know why though?

  21. I can't understand how insulin drives energy fueling. Insulin is supposed to lower blood sugar.

  22. Is it ok to drink mass gainer before workout and drink whey protein after workout ??

  23. After workout I drank a soya milk with 10 grams of protein. Then after an hour and a half,i ate for about 28g of protein. Are both separate or the 10grams will be added to 28?

  24. So if I exceed 45g of protein in one sitting on an empty stomach, my body will utilize all of it ?

  25. I think protein synthesis and utilization is way more higher during an intermittent fast. HGH and Testosterone levels peak around 14-20hrs in a fasted state. Insulin levels will be high when a big meal is introduced but a big meal introduced in a fasted state also activates Glucagon.

    The reason why Glucagon overrides Insulin is because of the Fat conversion to glucose. The breakdown happens is almost instantaneous. If you compare that to Insulin/Glucoeogenesis that requires approximately 3hrs+ for protein to move from the stomach to the small intestine to the large then to the colon and rectum.

    Also having a high protein diet and glucagon utilization is the only way to develop the Type 3 Glycolytic super muscle fiber. Boxers and sprinters are the only athletes thought to have these type of muscle fibers.

  26. Oh man everyday I watch something new about how much Protein I should eat. What would you recommend (86kg bodyweight)

  27. Dammit, I eat like 3 boiled eggs in the morning, isolated protein. What should I eat then? Is just that eggs are so easy to make

  28. I’ve seen a video saying that (for some people) you can eat too much protein so that the stomach can’t break it down, and it passes I to the intestines where bacteria feed on it and convert it into gas. Would that affect protein absorption efficiency?

  29. Carbs have a protein sparing effect, i.e if you have protein in isolation…most of it will be diverted for energy needs, with carbs and fats in the picture they manage the energy dynamics while the amino acids can be relatively free to be used for muscle building. 🙂 The only decent thing I learnt from my biochem nutrition 101.

  30. You are sacrificing kidney function with anything greater than 30 grams every three hours!

  31. What if these fitness channels suddenly realized their influence and started giving false info so they can become the most fit of us all

  32. I remember reading (but for the life of me cannot refind) an article summarising a journal article, where the results suggested that the 30g limit was related to how quickly a protein shake will move through your digestive tract with NO OTHER stomach contents and that time taken was what limited how much could be absorbed. As opposed to eating a steak, which requires more time in the digestive system because it is made of much more complex molecules, and hence you can "absorb more of it" because it will stay in your system a lot longer?

  33. 300ml milk and 2 scoops of gold standard. At some oatmeal. 3 times a day and youll be a beast

  34. Your body can only drink up too 30g of protein but eating and drinking are different. You can (eat) as much protein as you want.

  35. Amazing content mate! Finally someone is putting out proper fitness/nutrition content

  36. please can anybody help me PLEASE,
    I consume 100 grams of protein in one meal BUT, thats all the protein I eat for a day.Is this okay and will i gain weight

  37. Whey protein with milk or water. After workout?????? I want to make a protein shake with milk.

  38. I think it started as saying "you can't absorb more than 30g of WHEY protein at once". Who decided that this counts for all protein is beyond me. I do believe that claims of 30g whey protein max is correct. Also, note that that's an average. A girl who weighs 50kg and a guy who weighs 120kg will have considerably different maximums. Thus the correct scientific metric would be gram per kg muscle mass.

  39. Some retard bro science dude told me that only 10g of protein can be absorbed per hour. So if Brian Shaw and Thor Bjornsson eats 300g+ of protein per day, they need to eat 30hrs per day. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 24hrs is not even enough goddamit.

  40. I don’t think none of that shit matters as long as you get your protein in for the day. Who the fuck sits down and eats their daily protein need in 1 meal anyways? Even people who do 8 hour fasts will do 2-3 meals spread out. It takes hours for protein to break down anyways

  41. Take 15 grams of liquid protein every hour with digestive enzymes and you will make the best gains of your life.

  42. I stopped injecting protein shakes after i started on 4 grams of Tren Acetate hourly. I'm making gains and coughing pieces of my lungs you guys are pussies.

  43. Notice you never answered the question asked in the title of the video.

  44. You just said that eating most of the protein on one meal is better, so IF is kind of similar. If IF has no benefit, then, eating most of your protein in one meal is the same as eating it spread on all your meals.

  45. I have a question: can you still build muscle without sleeping ?
    I have TERRIBLE insomnia, like days without sleep, but I wish to become strong and stop being fat and sad.
    Is it possible ?

  46. 4:40 What is that amount of protein I need? The whole video is to say that it is more than 30gr, but you do not explain the amount that is needed.

  47. I like that everybody who's watching his videos is convinced by his content and not by his impressive physique. 👍

  48. The research hasn’t really defined a clear answer for this question, but the word absorbed is wrong. Like He said, there could be a limit for how much of that protein with actually go to muscle growth, bc your body doesn’t want to hold onto new muscle tissue, and doesn’t wanna build it as fast as possible.

  49. This might sound like a dumb question, but what does he mean when he says “lowers protein breakdown”? Like how fast the protein is digested or what? And also what does he mean when “significantly lowers muscle breakdown”? does that mean the more protein you eat the harder it is to breakdown your muscles during a workout?

  50. Im taking 1 scoop of protein. Which is probably not enough. I just started working out again after a long time. Im going finish my first whey protein box which probably has another 10 scoops worth in it. Im trying to lose the belly fat which isnt much. Probably 5 to 10 pounds. Should i put 2+ scoops of protein in my shake next time? I dont eat alot of high protein foods. Ill have 3 egg whites 10am and than eat something at 2pm and thats it for the whole day.

  51. So I've never given much thought on this despite having a hardcore diet routine of calorie deprivation, protein dominating my daily macro intake and working out 4-6 days a week. And now I've chomped down 450 grams of chicken breast in a single meal and hoping all those proteins don't go down the gutter…

  52. Answer: Your body absorbs as much protein as you eat, even if its 250g in one meal

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