How Much Protein Per Meal

Are You Getting Too Much Protein

How Much Protein Per Meal for Maximum Muscle Gains?

Judging by all the protein bars, shakes and powders out there, you get the impression you need more protein. There are claims it curbs appetite, helps with weight loss and builds muscle. But whats the real story?

Contrary to all the hype that everyone needs more protein, most Americans get twice as much as they need, says Kristi Wempen, a Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian nutritionist. This is especially true for males 14-70 years of age, who the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise to decrease meat, poultry and egg consumption. Even athletes are often getting more protein than they need, without supplements, because their calorie requirements are higher. And with more food comes more protein.

True or false: Big steak equals bigger muscles

Although adequate protein throughout the day is necessary, extra strength training is what leads to muscle growth not extra protein intake. You cant build muscle without the exercise to go with it.

The body cant store protein, so once needs are met, any extra is used for energy or stored as fat, adds Wempen. Excess calories from any source will be stored as fat in the body.

Wempen explains extra protein intake also can lead to elevated blood lipids and heart disease, because many high-protein foods are high in total fat and saturated fat. Extra protein intake, which can tax the kidneys, poses an additional risk to individuals predisposed to kidney disease.

How much protein do you need?

How Did We Calculate Your Protein Intake

Bodybuilding.com’s protein calculator starts with the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which is considered by our nutritionists and dieticians to be the “gold standard” of calorie calculators. Here’s how it works:

Calculate basal metabolic rate , or the calories your body burns simply by being alive. For men: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age + 5 For women: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age -161

Then, this BMR count is multiplied, depending on your activity level:

Sedentary = 1.2

How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb: The Science Behind Protein

Whether youre hoping to build muscle, lose weight, or simply ensure that youre getting complete nutrition, making sure you receive a sufficient amount of protein is important.

However, more is not always better when it comes to protein, as there is only so much protein that your body can digest and utilize. So, how much protein can your body absorb?

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How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb In One Go

Lets dive right in with the most commonly held belief that the body can only absorb 20-25g of protein at one time, and that anything else will be excreted and not used.

Certain studies have shown that there is almost no limit to the amount of protein our bodies can absorb, but the more protein you consume in one go, the longer it will take to digest. There are other factors which affect this, such as the content of certain amino acids within the protein you are consuming. Leucine, for example, has been shown to trigger muscle protein synthesis, so the lower the leucine content in the protein, the more you may need to trigger beneficial muscle protein synthesis. High leucine protein sources include pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, lentils, and spirulina. If you are looking to improve your muscle protein synthesis, then a protein powder with branched chain amino acids like Vivo Lifes PERFORM, including leucine, may well be beneficial for your muscle growth, tone and definition.

Youll also need to be aware of your current musculature and tone. The more muscular you are, the more protein youll need for muscle protein synthesis. Does this mean that you should only eat a certain amount of protein in one go? The answer to this is, not necessarily. Understanding your own training schedule, macros and the types of protein youre consuming are all important factors in determining how much protein is right for you.

A Guide To Protein Serving Sizes

Matt McLeod

We looked at protein-rich foods and tell you how many grams of protein you really get in a serving of chicken breast, eggs and more.

Protein is one powerhouse nutrient. It helps keep you full, and your body uses it to help grow and maintain muscles, blood vessels, skin, hair and nails. Plus, protein also plays a key role in synthesizing hormones and enzymes in your body.

Protein is found in a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, beans, nuts and whole grains. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, women need about 46 grams of protein and men need around 56 grams of protein . Learn exactly how much protein you need to eat every day. Your protein needs are also dependent on your age, activity level and whether you are pregnant or have any chronic diseases.

If you eat a balanced diet, you are likely getting the daily required amount without much difficulty. A standard 3-ounce chicken breast has about 26 grams of protein in it, which is more than half of what’s recommended for women. But despite the fact that most people get enough protein, it remains a popular macronutrient to eat. It helps keep you full and powers up your muscles.

To make it easier for you to eat up, we looked at what a serving of protein looks like and how much you’re getting from different sources.

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How To Get Enough Protein

Youve used our table or calculator to determine how much protein you need in a day, but the numbers dont look right. Lets say youre 125 pounds, of healthy weight, physically active, and trying to get even leaner. You discover that your optimal intake starts at 102 grams of protein. Isnt that too much for someone so light?

So it may seem at first blush. But lets take a step back. Lets say youre 125 pounds, of healthy weight, sedentary, and just trying to keep the same body composition. Your optimal intake starts at 68 grams of protein so 272 kcal . Not so daunting, now, is it?

Next, you decide to add physical exercise, in order to get even leaner. If you are 125 pounds and run at 7.5 mph for just ½ hour, you burn 375 kcal, compared to 41 for computer work. In other words, you burn 334 kcal more than when sitting and typing just about the least physically demanding activity.

If you took those added kilocalories solely as protein, that would make 84 grams of protein. Add 84 grams to your optimal protein intake when you dont exercise, and you get 152 grams of protein way more than your 102 grams starting target.

We can also calculate from the other direction. Youre 125 pounds and of healthy weight, going from sedentary to active in order to get even leaner: how will your protein intake change?

Dont Worry Too Much About Small Details

In conclusion: dont fret overly much over minor details. Fanaticism doesnt build muscle. You dont have to eat every third hour to gain muscle mass or become stronger. One meta-analysis examined the effect of meal frequency on body composition and found no significant difference between few and many meals.16 If there is such a difference, it certainly is not a large one.

Do you like eating a few large meals per day rather than many small meals? Maybe you practice intermittent fasting? No problem. You can reach your body goals with such feeding practices as well. This has been shown in practice many times. It is also quite possible that such a meal pattern makes it easier to lose body fat or to keep a low body fat percentage.

Nothing will go horribly wrong if you dont consume some form of protein every third or fourth hour. Strength training is the number one factor for muscle mass and strength. The total protein- and energy intake per day, over longer periods of time, make it possible for your training routine to give you the results you desire. Meal- and protein frequency might be the icing on the cake, but it will not be the things that make or break your progress. The best results are often the results you get from doing what you like, not forcing yourself to follow a diet or a training program you feel aversion to.

It might not be 100% optimal to eat your entire daily protein intake in a few large meals, but the differences wont be crucial.

Read more:

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Advantages Of Protein As An Energy Source

1. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which means that calories from protein tend to keep you full longer than calories from carbohydrates. This can be very helpful in controlling calorie intake and managing your weight.

2. Protein doesn’t cause sharp spikes in blood sugar, which reduces your risk of diabetes.

3. Protein can modestly boost your metabolism, or the rate at which your body burns calories.

The More Protein The Better

How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb per Meal?

No practical upper limit to the anabolic response to the amount of protein consumed in a single meal seems to exist, as stated above. How can this be, when the protein synthesis response to an intake of 90 grams of protein in one meal is no greater than that of 30 grams? The answer can be found in protein breakdown. Even if the stimulatory effect on protein synthesis does not increase further, when more than 30 grams of protein is consumed, the insulin response to larger meals directly correlate with energy intake. Eating more energy from protein and carbohydrate in one meal means a larger insulin response. This in turn leads to a more robust decrease of protein breakdown.5

Does this mean that eating one large, protein-rich meal per day is just as good as spreading the protein intake over a number of smaller meals in terms of hypertrophic potential? Unfortunately, things are not that simple.

The no upper limit to the anabolic response to the amount of protein in a single meal-perspective does not originate from studies on muscle protein synthesis. Instead, more protein consumed in a single meal means greater whole-body protein synthesis. In fact, measuring muscle protein breakdown correctly is easier said than done. A needle biopsy is used to collect cells from a muscle, and in the process, the muscle fibers are damaged. This makes it hard to determine if naturally occurring processes or the invasive procedure itself caused the observed muscle damage.

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What Happens To Excess Protein Intake

There is no long-term storage site for amino acids, the building blocks of protein. After eating a thick juicy steak, creamy bowl of split pea soup or sizzling soy fajitas, your body digests the protein and absorbs the amino acids, using them to build new structures, including muscle. However, the amount of protein we can digest and absorb greatly exceeds the we can use to build muscle tissue .

After you eat protein, your gut takes some of the amino acids and uses it for energy and local protein synthesis. Your liver also takes some amino acids and uses them to make liver and liver-derived blood proteins .

When excess protein is consumed, more than the body needs at that point in time, the rest is used for energy or converted to body fat. The nitrogen is combined with other compounds to form urea, a harmless waste product, which is processed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

What Grams Of Protein Really Means

This is a very common area of misunderstanding.

In nutrition science, grams of protein refers to the number of grams of the macronutrient protein, not the number of grams of a protein-containing food like meat or eggs.

An 8-ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams but only contains 61 grams of protein. Similarly, a large egg weighs 46 grams but only packs 6 grams of protein.

If youre at a healthy weight, dont lift weights, and dont exercise much, aiming for 0.360.6 grams per pound is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

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Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Pregnant Women

The protein RDA for pregnant women is 1.1 g/kg. This value was estimated by adding three values:

  • The RDA for a healthy adult

  • The amount of additional body protein a pregnant woman accumulates

  • The amount of protein used by the developing fetus

However, as we saw previously with non-pregnant healthy adults, the RDA may not be sufficient, let alone optimal. Theres some IAAO evidence that the RDA for pregnant women should be about 1.66 g/kg during early gestation and 1.77 g/kg during late gestation . Moreover, a meta-analysis of 16 intervention studies reported that protein supplementation during pregnancy led to reduced risks for the baby:

  • 34% lower risk of low gestational weight

  • 32% lower risk of low birth weight

  • 38% lower risk of stillbirth

This effect was more pronounced in undernourished women than in adequately nourished women. Importantly, these values were determined from sedentary women carrying one child, meaning that pregnant women who engage in regular physical activity or are supporting the growth of more than one child may need even higher amounts.

Also, keep in mind that we can only tell you what the studies reported we cant possibly know about your health and your pregnancy specifically. Please be sure to consult with your obstetrician/gynecologist before making any changes.

Optimal daily protein intake for pregnant women

Body weight

Based On Weight And Activity

150g of protein per day? No problem. Check out our example ...

There are other ways to get a more specific protein goal that may take into account lean muscle mass and/or physical activity level.

The average adult needs a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so a person who weighs 165 pounds, or 75 kg, would need about 60 grams of protein per day.

However, your protein needs may increase if you are very active. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Dietitians of Canada suggest that athletes need more protein.

These organizations suggest that athletes consume between 1.2 grams and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with endurance athletes at the lower end of this range and strength and power athletes at the higher end.

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How Much Protein Should The Average Person Consume Per Meal In Other Words How Much Protein Is Too Much

Both Calder and Mancella say that no more than 30 grams of protein per meal is ideal because excess protein will be excreted through urine.

“Excess protein consumption in roughly amounts greater than 30 grams per hour are not stored,” says Mancella. “Protein is never stored, and it is never meant to be used for immediate energy.”

By contrast, carbs and fat can be stored in the body for later use if eaten in excess. Have you ever heard of someone carbo-loading before a big race? The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. So when you’re engaging in intense physical activity, your body utilizes these glycogen stores so that you are able to withstand fatigue and finish the workout.

Protein works differently. Mancella explains that eating protein will not yield immediate energy like fat and carbs will, so the body redirects metabolic processes in order to create energy. The kidneys will then remove any excess protein in the blood. If excess protein is consumed regularly, the kidneys may become stressed. Calder says those with kidney disease may fare better avoiding eating a high protein diet.

“When we consume protein in excess, this adds more work for the kidneys to filter this through the body in order for protein to not build up within the protein,” says Mancella.

How Much Protein Should I Eat

Protein is a nutrient found in many types of foods. It is vital for life. Anytime your body is growing or repairing itself, protein is needed. How much protein you need depends on several factors including age, sex, health status and activity level.

The body needs a regular supply of protein to make and repair cells. In addition to muscles, other body tissues are primarily made from protein, like organs, hair and eyes. This nutrient also helps:

  • Fight infection
  • Carry fats, vitamins, minerals and oxygen around the body
  • Build and contract muscles
  • Keep body fluids in balance
  • Clot blood

Foods that Contain Protein

Protein can be found in both animal and plant-based foods. Some sources of protein are considered better choices than others due to their influence on heart health. Eating plans that include low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh may help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here are some nutritious protein food options:

  • Meat, poultry and eggs: lean cuts of beef, lamb, goat, pork loin, skinless chicken and turkey, quail and duck
  • Fish and seafood: salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, mackerel, lobster, catfish, crab
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods: yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese
  • Legumes: beans, split peas, lentils, soy
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, cashews and peanuts

Getting the Right Amount of Protein

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Protein Intake How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day

Few nutrients are as important as protein. Not getting enough of it will affect your health and body composition.

However, opinions regarding how much protein you need vary.

Most official nutritional organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.

The DRI is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman

This may be enough to prevent deficiency, but the amount you need depends on many factors, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals, and overall health.

This article examines the optimal amounts of protein and how lifestyle factors like weight loss, muscle building, and activity levels factor in.

Proteins are the main building blocks of your body. Theyre used to make muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that serve many important functions.

Proteins consist of smaller molecules called amino acids, which link together like beads on a string. These linked amino acids form long protein chains, which then fold into complex shapes.

Your body produces some of these amino acids, but you must obtain others known as essential amino acids via your diet.

Protein is not only about quantity but also quality.

If youre eating animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy every day, youre likely getting enough protein.

Protein is important when it comes to losing weight.

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