This happens with all beginners. You might be one of them too. You go to a gym. A buffed up dude comes up to you and tells you that you need to have a big chunk of proteins at least 4-6 times a day. You then finish your workout and prepare to leave. On your way out, another bro tells you that all the excess proteins you have will be wasted and you’ll simply pee it off.
So what’s the real answer? We need to eat 2 scoops of whey 4-6times a day or are you just flushing away all the expensive proteins?
Let’s break it down with some science.
Proteins per meal
Assuming that one eats 4-5meals in a day, it was found that 0.4-0.45gms/kg of bodyweight per meal was found to be optimal. That comes up to 1.6-1.8gms/kg for an entire day. So a 70kg guy would need a minimum of 112gms of proteins to maximize anabolism. Older men need more proteins than this. Their requirements can go upto 0.6gm/kg per meal [~2.4gm/kg per day].
We need 2.5-3gms of leucine (an essential amino acid) in order to trigger muscle protein synthesis. Getting more than 20gms of complete source of proteins will ensure that the MPS gets triggered.
“Extra” proteins get wasted
Whey is the fastest digesting protein. It’s absorption rate has been estimated at ~10gms per hour. So one scoop of whey will take somewhere close to 2.5hrs to get fully absorbed. These numbers change drastically when we get the proteins from whole foods, which bring along with them other macros and/or fibers. For instance, cooked egg protein has an absorption rate of ~3gms per hour. So 25gms of proteins from eggs will take ~8hrs to get fully absorbed. Slower rate of absorption will help attenuate amino acid oxidation and greater whole-body net positive protein balance.
All the amino acids that are ingested beyond the MPS requirements go through the process of gluconeogenesis and will be oxidized just like the other two macros.
So there it is : you DO NOT waste proteins, your body is smart enough to use it in one way or the other.
- You need 20-40gms of proteins per meal.
- You need 1.6-1.8gms/kg proteins throughout the day.
- >2.5gms of leucine is needed to trigger muscle protein synthesis.
- All the proteins ingested beyond the MPS requirements will be used for energy
Author credits – Nachiketh Shetty
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- Dangin M, Boirie Y, Guillet C, Beaufrere B: Influence of the protein digestion rate on protein turnover in young and elderly subjects. J Nutr 2002, 132(10):3228S–33S.
- Areta JL, Burke LM, Ross ML, Camera DM, West DW, Broad EM, Jeacocke NA, Moore DR, Stellingwerff T, Phillips SM, Hawley JA, Coffey VG. Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol. 2013;591(Pt 9):2319–31.