Protein is an important aspect of maintaining a good physique and good health. There has been much debate about how much protein per meal is optimal as too much might be wasteful, and too little leaves gains on the table.
Timing and protein per meal is minimally important when compared to getting total daily protein intake.
If you reach your daily protein targets consistently, then the next step is to aim for 25-40 grams of protein per meal spread out evenly every 4-6 hours throughout the day
Protein should be evenly distributed throughout the day with 25-40g of high-quality protein containing 2-3g of leucine. It has been suggested that 0.4g-0.5g of protein per meal will max out muscle protein synthesis.
In older men, a dose of up to 40g of protein per meal may be needed.
Ingesting more than 35g of protein per meal will not “waste” protein, as is commonly thought.
A 2015 study compared ingestion of 40g of protein and 70g of protein on muscle protein synthesis. This study showed that while you will have a greater protein balance in the body with 70g of protein, there is no difference in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) between the two . While this does not increase MPS, protein is still needed in the body in other cells for cellular turnover (cell death and repair). This is in contrast to the previously common thought that 20g of protein was maximum. Tipton et al. showed that 40g of protein will cause greater MPS than 20g of protein .
Thus we can draw from the above that 40g of high quality protein is how much protein per meal will stimulate the maximal MPS response. However, excess protein ingested will not go to waste, as this will be used in the body’s amino acid pool to be oxidized or used for protein synthesis elsewhere in the body .
- The anabolic response to a meal containing different amounts of protein is not limited by the maximal stimulation of protein synthesis in healthy young adults.
- Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids.
- Smith-Ryan, Abbie E.; Antonio, Jose (2013). Sports Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Learning. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-60797-339-3.