Most of the seemingly scientific articles suggest you can only realistically digest 30-35 grams of protein in one meal. While I understand that’s debatable, there has to be some limit on the effectiveness of more than that or those numbers wouldn’t be so widespread. If that’s the case, and you need 1-2 grams of protein per lb of BW, how can someone get 200 grams of protein in a day? Eating 6 times per day, which is hard to do consistently, still leaves you at only 180. If you eat 3 times per day, as I do, you’d have to eat almost 70 grams per meal, which according to many “experts” would send 35-40 straight to the toilet. Any thoughts on this?
It’s quite easy and the recommendation is typically 1-1.5 grams per lbs of lean body weight from what I’ve read. Most people aren’t carrying 200 lbs of muscle.
I think the take away here is don’t get caught up in the minutia, i.e. “your body can only digest X amount of protein per X amount of time.”
If you’re getting 1-1.5 grams of protein per lbs of lean body mass between a few meals within 24 hours, you’re fine for growth.
I’m 200 lbs at around 12% BF which means that my lean mass is only 176 lbs. This means I should shoot for 176 g - 264 g of protein per day. To average that, it would be 220 grams per day. Eating 4 times per day (I eat around every 3 hours, which is my preference), that breaks down to 55 grams of protein per meal… You can get that from eating just 8 oz of chicken breast or steak.
I get your point completely, but the “minutia” is what I really was referring to. Between protein shakes and meals, even just 3/day, I can easily get to 180g (I’m 220 at 20% BF) but I was concerned about the effectiveness of around 60g per meal and was just wondering how others were doing it. Thanks for the input.
I completely understand thinking that the magic is in the details and it is to some degree, but there’s also a range or span of acceptability that as long as you fall within, everything else will fall into place. I’ve always been extremely technical and detail oriented myself and have played around with eating 8 times per day, fasting for the majority of the day and then eating one monstrous meal at the end of the day between a 1-2 hour time window etc over my years of training (I’m 34 and have been lifting almost my entire life).
At your weight and BF getting you’ll be fine getting 180g-200g of protein/day. If you’re dieting you could argue getting more protein as a protective mechanism while still being in a deficit of calories.
You said you eat 4 times per day, every 3 hours…so what does that look like, exactly? 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and then done eating for the day, or something close to that? I really let myself go for about 5 years or so (I’ll soon turn 43) but I’ve been at it pretty hard for about 8 months. I went from a high of 267lbs to now 220lbs, but I seem to now be stalling out at 215-225 range. I feel confident in my workout routine after following along here for the last 6 months or so, but am really now trying to gain more confidence on my nutrition.
I eat a lot of protein every day; my boss complains that he can barely get 180 grams in a day. So, I’ve given him some pointers that I’ll pass on to you…and then I can list my actual eating schedule and typical meals for a general idea.
- Eat pure meat. What I mean by this is: Don’t eat deli meat and don’t eat things like chicken salad. Just eat chicken, steak, ground turkey, etc.
- Protein shakes/powders bridge the gap, they aren’t a meal replacement for a man 180+ pounds (counter to advertising).
- That’s really it.
So…here’s a typical day for me:
Meal 1: 7:15 am (just chicken = ~30-40 grams)
6-8oz grilled chicken, 2/3-3/4 cup jasmine rice, green beans or broccoli
Meal 2: 10:00 am (just eggs = ~30 grams)
3 eggs, 3 egg whites (scrambled), habenero cheese, diced bell peppers
Meal 3: 12:30 pm (just steak = 30-35 grams)
4-6 oz steak, 4-5 oz sauteed mushrooms, sugar snap peas or green beans
Meal 4: 3:00 pm (pre-workout meal) (chicken = ~25 grams)
3 oz grilled chicken, 3/4 cup jasmine rice
Pre-Workout: 3:30ish pm (protein = 12 grams)
1/2 scoop hydrolized casein, 1/2 scoop highly branched cyclic dextrin, creatine, stimulant (if needed)
Intra-Workout: 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm (protein = 12 grams)
1/2 scoop hydrolized casein, 1 - 1.5 scoop highly branched cyclic dextrin (depending upon body part being trained)
Post-Workout: 5:15 pm - 5:30 pm (protein = ~36 - 48 grams)
1.5 - 2 scoops whey protein blend powder
Meal 5: 7:30 pm (tuna = ~15-19 grams, chicken = ~26 grams)
1 packet flavored sunkist tuna, 8 oz grilled chicken, 2-2.5 cups jasmine rice
Total protein (from just protein sources, not including incidentals) = ~216-247 grams
That always seemed like a dumb anecdote or misapplied information pulled from an experiment.
It also begs an important question: how many grams of fat and carbs can your body process?
4 meals a day at 50g each is pretty easy to do, if you ask me.
I eat all my protein in 1 meal each day. I think I get more than 35 grams of protein out of it. When I put down 2 pounds of meat in a sitting, it can be still absorbing 16 hours later. If it were 35 grams an hour, I should be capable of absorbing over 500 grams of protein from that meal.
Ok, so you’re eating something up to 8 times per day… That’s actually the kind of info I was looking for, and thanks very much for all the details!
Not trying to be hard headed here, nor am I trying to get into your personal business…just trying to get all the info. Extrapolating that daily menu, it looks like you’re going through about 10-12 chicken breasts per week, 3.5 steaks, 42 eggs, 7 packets of tuna and 40-42 scoops of some type of protein-ish supplements? Plus, you workout between 4 and 4:45? Do you work? I can use some of this, but I’m looking for something that can be used for someone who works at a desk from 7-6pm everyday. Something us common folks can do.
l consider myself quite common! (read: qualified for this one).
I don’t give a shit about timing… to make it simple, I’ve set myself a calorie cap (~2500) and a protein minimum (200g).
My diet evolves a lot based on goals, gut health etc… but currently, it looks something like this:
Breakfast–roughly 60 grams
Shake (2 scoops protein, 1 cup keffir)
I’ve got a hella commute (1-1.5hrs) and sip this throughout.
Lunch–roughly 40 grams
Homemade chili or dirty rice
I aim to be at 1/2 my protein minimum by midday
Snack 1–roughly 30 grams
1 can tuna, some veggies and butter
Peri shake (on workout days)–roughly 30 grams
1 scoop protein, 1 scoop karbolyn
Dinner–roughly 40 grams
Fish or chicken, veggies, and a carb source
Pre-bedtime snack–roughly 30 grams
1 cup cottage cheese
So, a bare minimum of 200 grams daily (from direct sources)… myfitness pal usually has me somewhere closer to 230-250 from all sources by the time the day is through. I work 9-5ish (again, with a crazy long morning commute) M-F… got a gym at my office (big govt facility) usually hit it 3-4x weekly before heading home.
I wish I had a hard time eating enough of anything.
This sounds like something more realistic with how I can consistently eat. I’m not trying to be a bodybuilder. I want to weigh 200 with 10-15% body fat, be able to squat 400, deadlift 500, bench 315, run a 24 min 5k, and make women drop their panties when I walk by. You know…nothing too drastic.
I like to think of myself as a pretty typical dude. I work a good job. I work from 6:30 am - 3:00 pm (Mon-Fri) at an office as a software developer. I’ve always been a morning person, and my boss respects that. My hours are the way they are because I don’t take lunch breaks or smoke breaks. I eat all four meals at the office while working (or posting on t-nation!). Saturdays and Sundays, I make my meals fresh at home and/or eat smart while I’m out and about. Also, I am at the gym from about 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm but I’m only ingesting the protein and carbs from 4:00 - 4:45 pm. After that, it’s just plain water.
As far as what I eat…here’s a breakdown of quantity and price:
I get my steak from a local butcher who sources grass-fed, non GMO beef, chicken, and pork…so my steak is usually one big cut (2.5 lbs ish) and that’ll last me about 6 meals (ish). I love flank-cuts of steak (flank steak, skirt steak, bavette steak, etc). Better texture, but a bit pricier than other cuts. The steak is the only “pricey” item I buy ($12.99/lb to $15.99/lb). But then I go to Wal-Mart and Kroger.
The chicken is $1.99 lb from a grocery store (Kroger, if you’re familiar). I go through, roughly, 10-11 lbs of chicken a week, but that covers 21+ meals.
Sometimes I splurge and buy 30 lbs of chicken when it’s on sale and freeze what I don’t use right away. That’s always been my secret: Find chicken when it’s $1.69/lb and spend $75 dollars…take it home, cut off the fat, wrap in plastic wrap, place in bag, put in freezer. Thaw what is needed and cook it. It sucks for cash flow up front, but it saves a lot of money annually.
Sometimes I save money by purchasing chicken thighs (they’re cheaper if you haven’t looked at them). The skin adds fat into your diet, though. And if you try to use them for meal prep, you have to cut around the thigh bone…and it can be a pain in the ass.
Eggs I can get for sub $3.00 for 5 dozen at Wal-Mart. Not the best quality, but I’m not a pro-bodybuilder. Lately, 5 dozen eggs (60) have been about $2.50. Sometimes that jumps up to $5.00 depending upon market prices. But that is really cheap either way, and will always be cheaper than buying bottled egg whites.
I buy jasmine rice by the 5lb bag at Wal-Mart for not very much money. I think a 5 lb bag of Jasmine Rice at Wal-Mart is $4.50 or so. But rice goes a long way. Wal-Mart has also upped their game on produce…and their prices are cheaper than many other grocery stores.
I go back to Kroger for frozen veggies, though. Just a preference.
I use a hydrolized protein and a whey protein. I use one scoop of the hydrolized on days that I lift (6 scoops a week, half pre, half intra). I use between 1-2 of the whey only on days I lift (let’s average 9 scoops, all post gym). That’s only 15 scoops-ish of protein powder a week. I’m not sure where you got 40-42 scoops from…
When I average it out, my grocery bill is just about $100 a week…which isn’t bad at all, in my opinion. It’s a lot more than my tiny lady would spend on herself, but it’s pretty cheap for someone that lives a bodybuilding lifestyle. Copuons are essential too…online and in the mail.
The info/study you mentioned is widely mis-understood.
30 grams isn’t the maximum protein your body can absorb. 30 grams is “Optimal” for inducing protein synthesis. More than 30 grams doesn’t result in any higher rate of protein synthesis.
But once protein synthesis is “turned on” your muscles keep using the protein.
Lifting weights also stimulates protein synthesis. Lifting “turns it on” for longer.
So don’t worry about stimulating protein synthesis by eating protein. Pretend you never heard that 30 gram number you mentioned. That’s for people in the hospital who can’t exercise or lift. Lift weights to get 24-48 hours of synthesis. Eat protein steadily to keep Amino acids in your blood stream.
Digestion takes awhile. Like Double Duece said, you can digest food and absorb protein for hours.
If you beat up your muscles, they’ll absorb it.
Ok…that makes a lot of sense. I just kept seeing that number over and over and couldn’t figure out how people were supposed to do it other than eating 8 times per day. If that was the case, you’d have to ingest an 8oz chicken breast or a protein shake every 2 hours, and that just isn’t very realistic for me.
That’s what I thought.
That explanation could be B.S. but it lets me get to sleep at night.
Could probably give us some for-real information.
Really, Just try it and see. At best a study should give you an idea to test.
Like I said, I do fine with 1 real protein meal a day, so what do the scientific specifics matter? Even if you could prove I can only get 35 grams of protein that way, all you’d be showing is that I can do fine with only 35 grams, not that I should change what I’m doing.