The Myth of 30 Grams
How much protein should you eat per meal?
There is a popular (mis)belief that the human body can’t absorb more than 30 grams of protein per meal. However, science refutes this.
Ready for the nerdy science stuff? Here it goes:
Researchers in France found that eating protein all at once can be just as well absorbed as spreading it out over your day. A group of 26-year-old women were given either 80% of their protein for the day at one meal or spread over multiple meals. After two weeks, there was no difference between the subject and control groups in terms of nitrogen balance, whole body protein turnover, whole body proteins synthesis, or protein breakdown.
In both subjects and controls, the amount of protein given was 1.7 g of protein per kilogram of fat free mass per day. This means that, for a 26-year-old, 125 pound woman, eating 77 g of protein in one meal had the same affect as spreading it out.
The experiment was then repeated in older subjects, with him, it turns out, eating protein all at once can actually lead to better protein retention. Giving elderly women 80% of their protein for the day and one meal over a period of two weeks lead to almost 20% more synthesis and retention of protein compared to dividing it into smaller doses.
*Nerdy Mode OFF* Now, let’s break it down in everyday language.
It appears that this research shows that the daily amount of protein is more important than per-meal amount of protein. It is also important to remember that food weight does not equal protein weight.
To illustrate this, take this example into consideration: If you were to weigh nearly fat free chicken breasts on a food scale and the total is 140 grams, it does not mean you’re getting even close to 140 grams of protein. In fact, 140 grams of chicken breast only contains about 43 grams of protein, which is less than 1/3 of the total body weight. Why? Because people forget to take into consideration the heaviest part of the meat – which is water.
A good rule of thumb to follow for daily intake (and a safe range based on the literature) is .8 – 2.5 grams of protein per 2.2 lbs(one kilogram) of body weight. For muscular gain, I would suggest at least 1.25 grams of protein / pound of current lean body weight, which means you subtract your body fat first.
Here are a few examples:
100 lbs of lean mass = 125 grams of protein
110 lbs = 137.5 g
120 lbs = 150 g
150 lbs = 187.5 g
180 lbs = 225 g
200 lbs = 250 g
Following this model but not gaining muscle? Track your protein over one day. Then eat more.
The good news is you can eat however much you want whenever you want!
For more on how we incorporate protein in to our lifestyle, feel satisfied and stay lean – check out our #SculptFast Lifestyle Diet (SFL) inside of our SculptorBodyFitness.com member portal.