Should you eat protein every couple of hours to preserve more lean muscle?
Or is this just the latest in a long line of bulls**t in a fitness world that likes to over-complicate f**king everything…?
Today we’ll find out.
I’ll be looking into the research surrounding protein timing, and giving you a breakdown on what the science says regarding muscle growth.
You should probably have a whey protein shake.
(You know, to avoid going catabolic since you started reading this…)
The Protein Timing Theory Explained…
This is not some new belief which surfaced in the last couple of years.
In fact, bodybuilders have done this for years.
The theory is that spacing your protein intake throughout the day will cause a greater uptake of amino acids into your muscle cells, and result in more muscle growth.
It’s as simple as that.
But even though this is a popular belief, we’d be foolish to take it at face value.
I mean, lots of people say you should eat small frequent meals throughout the day to “speed up your metabolism” and they are talking absolute bulls**t, but that’s a mega-popular gym belief right there…
So let’s get stuck into some science regarding protein timing to see what the facts are.
The Science On Protein Timing…
This is one gym belief that’s actually true.
Research shows that protein timing does indeed have a positive impact on muscle protein synthesis.
Of course, these improvements aren’t life-changing differences, so it’s not worth overhauling your entire diet if your current approach is working for you… but for those looking to make some changes, take a look below.
Researchers from Lausanne, Switzerland, conducted an interesting study on protein timing back in 2012.
Following a leg workout, three groups of trainees were given 80g protein in the following different intervals over the next twelve hours:
- 10 grams of protein every 1.5 hours
- 20 grams of protein every 3 hours
- 40 grams of protein every 6 hours
Interestingly, the second group achieved optimal results.
The 10g and 20g group 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 consuming smaller doses of protein (around 20 grams every three hours) can have a positive impact on muscle growth. (1)
How To Apply These Findings Correctly…
Let’s not get carried away here.
Protein timing is definitely a thing, but I don’t want you to start stressing out like a housewife who’s late for “Wine O’ Clock”.
Your main task is to make sure you’re getting enough protein overall. As revealed in this post, most people aren’t. The results of a study like this will make no difference to you if you’re overlooking the basics.
So if you currently have an approach which works for you, continue with it.
However, if you’d like to make the most of protein timing then it’s as simple as consuming protein every 3 hours.
This can be done as easily as having 3 main meals interspersed with a couple of whey protein shakes as snacks. Job done.
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- 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)