How Much Protein Do I Need Per Meal

So Then What Happens If You Eat More Than 30g Of Protein At Once

How Much Protein Do I Need To Build Muscle? | Nutritionist Explains… | Myprotein

Ehh, nothing.

You dont die. The extra protein doesnt go to waste. Everything goes quite normally.

Pretty anticlimactic, I know. But its true.

See, your body is good at handling most of what you throw at it. Which is why there is no reason to think your body wont be able to handle/use/process/digest/absorb whatever amount of protein you give it in a single meal regardless of whether its 20g, 30g, 40g, 50g, 60g, 70g, 80g or any other realistically capable amount you can think of. It can and it will.

Various studies all support this, and not a single study Ive ever seen shows otherwise.

The only meaningful difference here is that a meal containing more protein will just take longer to digest than a meal containing less protein. Thats literally it.

Which means, nothing goes to waste. All of the protein consumed will still get absorbed just over a longer period of time. But, in the end, the same total amount protein will be processed whether it was consumed via three 20g meals or one 60g meal. Or any similar example.

So, if youre currently putting a very specific limit on the amount of protein you consume at one time as a result of this myth, and your diet would be more convenient, enjoyable and sustainable for you if you removed that limitgo for it.

I personally eat more than 30g of protein virtually every single time I eat protein. Hell, I dont think Ive had a single dinner in the last 5 years that contained less than 50g of protein.

Guidelines For Special Populations

Many sources that suggest protein guidelines provide numbers for adult men and women. But there are certain populations that may need more or less protein to manage a medical condition or facilitate growth.

  • Pregnant and lactating people need more protein than people who are not pregnant .
  • Older adults need more protein than middle-aged adults .
  • People with liver or kidney disease need to decrease protein intake .

Consult a doctor or dietitian to determine your ideal daily protein goal.

How Much Protein Should I Eat At Once

That said, the amino acids most closely linked to muscle protein synthesis , a process that switches on genes responsible for muscle gain are the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine has far and away the most research linking it to MPS.

Now, MPS is just one piece of the muscle gain puzzle: total daily calories is hugely important, as is total protein intake, ones exercise regimen, sleep, and many other factors. While these are far more important than worrying about leucine some research has found people to gain and lose the same amount of muscle and fat whether theyre eating every day or every other day, so long as their calories are in check it seems that about three grams of leucine per serving is ideal for keeping MPS maintained.

Youll get that in about 20 to 30 grams of protein from most protein dense sources, including many vegan ones like legumes and grains.

So if youre eating 150 grams of protein a day, this might sound like you should eat 5 meals with 30 grams of protein each, so a meal every three hours. Theres nothing wrong with this approach, but its worth remembering that some research has found MPS to be about the same after six hours whether you ate two small meals with 30 grams apiece or if you ate a big meal with 60 grams of protein and then nothing else for six hours.

Read Also: How To Choose Whey Protein

How Much Protein Should I Eat In A Day

As we cover in our guide How Much Protein Do I Need to Eat, youre going to find all sorts of different recommendations for how much protein you should be consuming.

For example, the current international Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.4g per pound of bodyweight .

Case closed?


In our opinion, and as described in this review article the RDA for protein is too low and should be higher regardless of your body composition.

Our calculator actually starts you off at 0.540.82g per pound of bodyweight , which tops out at over twice the level of the RDA.

Also, the amount of protein you eat will depend on your individual goals. Thats why we have so many variables in our protein calculator.

The RDAs blanket recommendation for protein intake is oversimplified.

Well dive into this further in the subsequent sections.

One final point: we gave you a wide recommended range of protein, because people vary quite a bit in their protein needs.

So dont take our protein recommendation as gospel!

Consider your results here as a starting point. Try one range, see how you feel, and take it up or down from there.

If you respond well to a protein intake thats not within our recommended range, dont sweat it!

The protein recommendations here come from studies, and studies are based on averages. You may be an outlier.

Use our calculator as a starting point, and assess your results over time. We give this same advice to our coaching clients when they ask us about protein.

Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Older Adults


Sarcopenia is a muscle disorder. It is defined as an impairment of physical function combined with a loss of muscle mass. It is the primary age-related cause of frailty.

Frailty is associated with a higher risk of disabilities that affect your ability to perform daily activities, a higher risk of having to go to a nursing home, and a higher risk of experiencing falls, fractures, and hospitalizations.

The link between sarcopenia, frailty, and associated morbidities may explain why sarcopenia is associated with a greater risk of premature death and reduced quality of life. This isnt a rare issue, either: in the US, over 40% of men and nearly 60% of women over the age of 50 have sarcopenia, and more than 10% of people in their 20s.

Reference: Janssen et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2002.

Fortunately, sarcopenia is neither inevitable nor irreversible some seniors have built more muscle in their old age than they ever had in their youth. The older you get, though, the greater your muscles anabolic resistance , and so the greater the protein intake and exercise volume youll need to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Notably, doubling protein intake from 0.8 to 1.6 g/kg has been shown to significantly increase lean body mass in elderly men. Similar observations have been made in elderly women who increase their protein intake from 0.9 to 1.4 g/kg. Even a small increase in protein intake from 1.0 to 1.3 g/kg has minor benefits towards lean mass and overall body composition.

Read Also: How Many Grams Of Protein Should You Have Per Day

Animal Proteins Are Complete But Plant Proteins Are Not

In total, there are around 20 amino acids that the human body uses to build proteins.

These amino acids are classified as either essential or non-essential.

Your body can produce non-essential amino acids. However, it cannot produce essential amino acids, which need to be obtained through your diet.

For optimal health, your body needs all the essential amino acids in the right ratios.

Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, are similar to the protein found in your body.

These are considered to be complete sources of protein because they contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to function effectively.

On the contrary, plant protein sources, such as beans, lentils and nuts are considered to be incomplete, as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids that your body needs (

What Is A Good Weight Loss Shake

Protein drink with chocolate, coconut and cocoa for weight loss. The creamy chocolate shake is a treat for stomach and palate while dieting. Dark chocolate are good for general health. Chocolate shakes are very nutritious and a good source of protein. Coconut is also a good source of protein and contains healthy fats.

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Is There Any Danger In Eating Too Much Protein

Well, if youre piling your plate with too much protein, you might be pushing other vital nutrients out of your diet from foods such as vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains, all of which can help with muscle recovery and weight loss.

Protein is filling, after all.

A good way to eyeball how much protein 30 grams is: Make a fist.

One fist-sized portion of meat, fish, seafood, tofu, whatever is about how much you need.

So How Much Protein Do I Actually Need

How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb Per Meal?

A general recommendation for healthy adults is to eat at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of your body weight each day but you may need more depending on your activity level and general health, Stockle says.

For example, a 140-pound woman whos running 20 miles a week and lifting weights three days a week probably needs more protein than someone of the same weight who gets their exercise from walking four days a week.

If you have questions about your specific protein needs, a registered dietitian can help you determine the best amount for you.

Another important thing to remember is that timing matters.We can only absorb about 25 to 40 grams of protein per sitting, so making sureto space out protein intake throughout the day is important, she adds.

Unsure if youre overdoing it? Use your hand as a guide an appropriate serving of protein is generally about the size of the palm of your hand.

And if youre worried youre not getting enough? Stockle adds, There are many protein powders you can supplement with in your smoothies that use combinations of hemp seed protein, pea protein and rice protein, which have higher percentages of all the amino acids we need.

Read Also: How Many Protein Need Per Day

Protein And Blood Glucose

In addition to helping the body grow, protein can also be broken down by the body into glucose and used for energy .

Protein can be broken down into glucose by the body and the effects are more likely to be noticed if you are having meals with less carbohydrate.

Protein is broken down into glucose less efficiently than carbohydrate and, as a result, any effects of protein on blood glucose levels tend to occur any where between a few hours and several hours after eating.

People with type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes on insulin, may need to bear the effects of protein in mind if having a largely protein based meal. Its best to learn how your sugar levels react to such meals so that you can judge the right insulin requirements.

Is Muscle The Only Reason We Eat Protein

Now, while I can always appreciate a good muscle protein synthesis study, I wonder if all the hoopla regarding these two studies is doing healthy eaters a service or not.

I mean, its definitely a good thing to discover that 30g of protein provides the upper limit of amino acids necessary for maximal protein synthesis at a particular point in time.

However, the important, big-picture question is this oneis building muscle the only reason we eat protein?

I think not.

Challenging the notion that eating more than 30g in a sitting is wasteful, here are a few thoughts I sent to a group of colleagues:

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Replace Cereal With Eggs

Many breakfast foods are low in protein, including toast, bagels, and cereals.

Although oatmeal contains more protein than most cereals, it still only provides about 5 grams in a typical 1-cup serving .

On the other hand, 3 large eggs provide 19 grams of high quality protein, along with important nutrients like selenium and choline .

Whats more, several studies have shown that eating eggs for breakfast reduces appetite and keeps you full for several hours, so you end up eating fewer calories later in the day .

According to one older study, eating whole eggs can also modify the size and shape of your LDL cholesterol particles in a way that may even decrease your heart disease risk .


Replacing cereal with eggs boosts protein consumption, makes you feel more full, and helps you eat fewer calories.

Who Needs More Protein

How Much Protein You Need After a Workout
  • Weight loss attempt/dieters

Whenever youre talking about weight loss, you should always base protein needs on body weight, not percentage of calories, says Donald Layman, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois. Percentage of calories is very misleading. Drop your calories and protein can easily dip below minimum levels. Keep the amount of protein the same and it can be considered high protein on one diet and low protein on another, yet its still the same amount of protein.

Breakdown that occurs with dieting or sensing starvation occurs 50/50, that is about 50% muscle and 50% fat to survive. Dieting on a high-carb diet like the food guide pyramid youd breakdown 35% lean tissue and 65% fat. If you go on a high protein diet your muscle tissue breakdown drops to 20% while fat breakdown increases to 80%. Add the right dose of exercise and recovery and you get less than 10% muscle breakdown.

So suggestions for boosting your fat breakdown and reducing muscle breakdown during weight loss effort:

In most weight loss groups where there is exercise where walking, walking and Pilates, or strength training, only subjects with resistance training held on to lean muscle mass and experienced least amount of losses. It takes both high protein and resistance training. Especially as you age.

** High carb is basically RDA standards, High protein is only perception and based on if you reduce calories but keep the amount of protein you eat similar.

Also Check: How Much Protein Should Dry Cat Food Have

Eat Your Protein First

When eating a meal, eat the protein source first, especially before you get to the starches.

Protein increases the production of peptide YY , a gut hormone that makes you feel full and satisfied .

In addition, a high protein intake decreases levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increases your metabolic rate after eating and during sleep .

Whats more, eating protein first can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high after a meal.

In one small study, people with type 2 diabetes were served identical meals on different days. Blood sugar and insulin rose significantly less when they consumed protein and vegetables before eating high carb foods, compared with when the order was reversed .


Eating protein first at meals can help you feel full and keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high.

Protein Intake And Absorption: The Bottom Line

Remember, the numbers mentioned above are just generalities. Just because one body type can absorb a certain amount of protein doesnt mean your own body will operate in the same way. Body weight, sex and age are certainly significant factors in determining the proper amounts of protein for your body, but they arent the only ones. Thats why personalized nutrition is key.

Personalizing your nutrition and thus, your protein intake ensures youre getting the proper amounts of protein for you and your goals. But how do you even go about finding a customized nutrition game plan? Turn to Gainful.

Gainful can help you to design a custom-made protein powder thats created just for your body, so you can get the exact nutrition your body needs for proper protein absorption and digestion. First, headhere to take our quiz. Using your answers, Gainful will figure out what type of protein best suits your body composition and overall goals. You can add your other personalization, such as protein preferences and Flavor Boosts, then Gainful will deliver everything you need in the perfect amounts.

You wont have to search for a nutritionist on your own to get answers to any lingering questions about protein absorption, or rely on random online body-building forums to figure out if youre consuming too much protein or too little. All Gainful subscribers have a Registered Dietitian on-hand to answer any questions you may have .

Read Also: How To Eat Protein To Lose Weight

What Does The Right Amount Of Protein At Each Meal Look Like

Here are a few examples…

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt plus a handful of nuts
  • A palm size portion of steak, fish and/or poultry
  • 3 whole eggs + 3 egg whites
  • 1 scoop of whey protein

So, no, gnawing your way through an entire side of beef may not benefit your muscles any more than taking down a smaller portion of tenderloin.

How Many Grams Of Protein In One Scoop Of Whey Powder

How Much Protein Can You Absorb In One Meal? (20g? 30g? 100g?)

One serving, one serving A typical serving of whey powder is one serving, but serving sizes and weights can vary widely from brand to brand, and they don’t always contain the same amount of protein.. A brand of whey powder has globules that weigh about 29 grams and contain 17 grams of protein per scoop.

Recommended Reading: How To Make Protein Bars At Home For Weight Loss

Smashing The Protein Speed Limit

One of the oldest and most persistent “truisms” of bodybuilding is that you can’t absorb more than 20 to 25 grams of protein in a single sitting. This belief, more than anything, probably gave rise to the seemingly universal bodybuilding habit of eating six or more meals a day.

How and why this belief came about is a mystery. No one, layperson or researcher, has been able to find any scientific evidence for this protein “speed limit.” Nevertheless, most bodybuilders have put on their dietary seatbelts and abided by this limit for as long as practically anyone can remember.

What exactly did people think happened to any ingested protein beyond the 25-gram barrier? Did they conclude that it just turns into little protein bricks that are excreted? Sure, that’s how Legos are made. Collect ’em over the years and build yourself a protein-Lego Death Star, complete with its own Count Dookie.

That explanation isn’t much more plausible than any other, but maybe we can now blast through this mythical protein barrier, thanks to the work of sometime contributors to T Nation, Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon.

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