T Nation

Protien Utilization

I recently posted a question about the MRP diet and was curious as to one of the responses. How much protien can be utilized by the body at one time? For example if I consume 1+lbs of chicken that has 100g of protien for dinner, how much will my body actually process? If there is a set number, such as only 50g, then how much time do I need to leave between meals for the remaining protien to be utilized?

JP, that’s a topic that’ been kicked around ad nauseam here on the forum. There are lots of opinions on the topic. The point really is that if you take in “too much” protein, the body by way of gluconeogenesis actually causes an insulin response.



No one knows what the number really is, but I’m sure it’s affected by a number of different factors, one of which might be LBM.



What’s ideal for you? Take your protein requirements and divide by 5 or more meals. Myself, I like to see the number kept below 50g of protein per meal. If your protein requirements are high – 280g, say – it becomes imperative that you eat the “or more” in “5 or more” meals.



It’s a topic that makes for ineresting reading . . . and debate. (grin)

100g will definetly not get processed at once time. The answer to your question is that it varies depending on several factors including - your body, time of day (your body will be able to absorb more post workout), what kind of protein, etc. There is not set number but you could use 50g as a round number. I prefer 5-6 meals a day with 40g of protein. In any case, the small amount and higher frequency of protein consumption is the best for your body. You can’t eat 200g of protein at one sitting and expect your body to absorb it as well at eating 4 50g protein meals spread throughout the day.

JCrew…this is an oft asked question and righfully so. If your question is how much of the protein that you consume in one sitting will go directly towards protein synthesis, I doubt that you’ll get an actual number, as this is not known and dependent on many a factor. If you’re asking in a more general sense, then the answer is that ALL the dietary protein you consume will be used in one way or another. Unfortunately many people will say only eat such and such (enter number here) grams of protein per sitting, but that’s flawed. Obviously at certain times of the day (i.e. before, during and after training in particular) amino acids are needed in bolus quantities to satisfy the need for protein synthesis–when amino acid availability is the limiting factor.

Back to my original statement about utilization of all dietary protein…I emphasize a higher protein diet (i.e. 1.5g/lb or more). While many consider this an inefficient source of energy, I think the benefits outweight the negatives. Anyway, like I mentioned, not all dietary protein will be needed and thus used for synthesis purposes. The body digests the protein into its constituent amino acids. Those amino acids that aren’t needed for purposes of synthesis will still be utilized, but since there’s no reserve pool (like there is for excess dietary fat and carbohydrate) something’s got to give. First, however, the body must deaminate those excess aminos–that is, cleave off the nitrogen component–leaving you with the carbon skeleton. The nitrogen component goes thru further processing and is excreted in the urine as urea (keep the water intake up!). The carbon skeletons/fragments represent intermediates of glucose or fat metabolism (aminos are either gluconeogenic or ketogenic), which can be used as energy or stored as energy (the same as excess glucose or fat would be). Hope that clears things up a little.

I think the board consensus is there is no set number. If there was, it would vary greatly depending upon the individual.



Try determining your protein requirement for the day, and divide that by 5 or 6 meals. You can’t really go wrong that way, because your body will have an almost constant supply of nutrients.

 This issue has been beaten to death. Maybe someone knows any better, but last time I checked nobody really knows fo sure. I'm sure it varies for each individual. I always take in 50 grams of protein with each and every single one of my 6 meals. Could be too much, but if it is, its not by much.