1. How much protein can I absorb per meal?
A lot of people will tell you that you can only absorb ‘X’ amount of protein per meal; this is flat out WRONG! The absorption of protein from a meal is almost never an issue unless a medical condition is present. Your body will absorb all of the protein in a meal and utilize it for various bodily functions. People get stuck thinking that protein is ONLY used for muscle recovery and growth, when in fact only a small amount of the protein you ingest is used for this purpose. As protein travels through the digestive tract, it is broken down into amino acids. The amino acids are then utilized by the small intestines and liver before ever reaching the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, other organs/tissue such as the heart, kidneys, skin, and skeletal muscle use amino acids for energy and repair. When that process is complete, excess amino acids will be stored as fat if you are in a caloric surplus or used for energy production if you are in a deficit.
2. Is high protein bad for you?
Research on healthy individuals has shown NO health problems associated with high protein intake. Studies with protein intakes as high as 1.25 grams per pound of body weight have been performed without adverse side effects. If an individual has some type of kidney disease, it is recommended they talk to their doctor about appropriate protein intake.
3. Does more protein equal more muscle?
More protein does not equal more muscle after a certain point. Recent research has shown that optimal stimulation of muscle growth and repair occurs between 20-30 grams of high quality protein (whey protein) per meal. The same research shows trends (not significant according to researchers) of increased growth and repair with intakes up to 40 grams per meal in an average sized male (160lbs).
The use of whey protein is significant. Whey protein contains the highest concentration of the amino acid LEUCINE.
Leucine is the amino acid believed to be most responsible for increased skeletal muscle growth and repair. For this reason, it may be more important to reach the leucine threshold than the protein threshold when you are looking to gain muscle. Since most meals are mixed with protein sources of lower quality than whey, it is probably safest to consume 30+ grams per meal to maximize muscle protein synthesis.
Whey protein is 11% leucine. Since 20-40grams of whey is needed to maximize muscle growth and repair, you would be consuming 2-4 grams of leucine.
Soy protein is 8% leucine. In order to reach the necessary 2-4 grams of leucine, you would need to consume 25-50grams of soy protein.
Wheat protein is 6.8% leucine. In order to reach 2-4 grams of leucine, you would need to consume 30-60 grams of wheat protein.
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