DOES PROTEIN TIMING MATTER?
Does eating protein every couple of hours lead to greater muscle building results?
That’s the topic of today’s article, where I’ll be delving into the latest research surrounding protein timing to see whether it really is a useful nutrition strategy – or whether it’s just another piece of bulls**t advice from a fitness world that likes to overcomplicate f**king everything!
You should probably have a whey protein shake (to avoid going catabolic while you read, bro!
WHY WE “THINK” PROTEIN TIMING IS IMPORTANT
Bodybuilders have been using this strategy for decades, and the theory is pretty solid.
Spacing your protein intake throughout the day should lead to a greater uptake of amino acids into muscle cells, which leads to more muscle growth; so we could have two people eating the exact same amount of protein overall but one will build slightly more muscle.
It’s as simple as that – but we’d be foolish to take it at face value. I mean, LOTS of “fit pros” still believe eating small frequent meals speeds up your metabolism, and it absolutely does NOT.
So let’s look at what science has to say on protein timing…
DOES EATING SMALLER MORE FREQUENT SERVINGS OF PROTEIN INCREASE MUSCLE GROWTH?
In a nutshell, yes it does.
Researchers from Lausanne, Switzerland, conducted an interesting study on the topic of protein timing back in 2012. Following a leg workout, three groups of trainees were given 80 grams of whey protein in the following intervals over the next twelve hours:
- Group 1 had 10 grams of protein every 1.5 hours
- Group 2 had 20 grams of protein every 3 hours
- Group 3 had 40 grams of protein every 6 hours
Group 2 saw the best results.
Both the 10g group (Group 1) and 20g group (Group 2) experienced greater muscle protein synthesis, as well as better whole body protein turnover and protein breakdown, but the 20g group also had better net protein balance and protein metabolism, so it appears that consuming smaller doses of protein (around 20 grams every three hours) can actually lead to greater muscle building results. (1)
HOW TO APPLY THESE FINDINGS FOR MAXIMUM RESULTS!
Okay, let’s not get carried away here.
Protein timing is definitely a thing, but I don’t want you to stress out like a housewife who’s late for “Wine O’ Clock”. You can see from the graph above that the improvements are very slight, so there’s no need for you to overhaul your diet in a bid to space your protein out perfectly (especially if your current diet is working for you!).
You see, it’s too easy to get caught up in small details like this and accidentally overlook the big stuff (i.e. most people aren’t eating enough protein per day, never mind the frequency of the meals).
However, if you already have your daily protein intake nailed down and you’d like to see if protein timing makes an additional difference, give it a shot!
You can put the results of this study to the test by consuming about 20 grams of protein every 3 hours. This can be as easy as having 3 main meals, with a couple of whey protein shakes as snacks in between. JOB DONE!
- Moore D. R., et al. Daytime Pattern Of Post-Exercise Protein Intake Affects Whole-Body Protein Turnover In Resistance-Trained Males. Nutr Metab (Lond) (2012).