How Much Protein You Should Eat Per Meal

Garage Gym Athlete
How Much Protein You Should Eat Per Meal

Hey, Athletes! How Much Protein You Should Eat Per Meal  Episode of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

How Much Protein You Should Eat Per Meal


  • Jerred discusses protein!
  • He reviews a study about how much protein you should ingest.
  • He gives his general approach and advice.
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper…

If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here is a link to the study for you: 

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To becoming better!

- Jerred

Podcast Transcript

Jerred: This is the Garage Gym Athlete Podcast, and we're here to build autonomous athletes and put phenomenal programming into every garage, basement, and spare bedroom out there. I'm Jared Moon, and with Jill Courtney, we are strength and conditioning coaches who have turned over 20, 000 people into Garage Gym Athletes over the last decade.

And we're here to reduce the information overload that exists in the health and fitness industry today. We're going to do that by covering relevant science and give actionable takeaways, not only from the data, but from our years of experience. So let's dive in.

All right, let's dive right into it today. I'm talking about all things protein going over an interesting new study, but how much do you know about protein? Do you know how much you need to have? Each and every single day. Is there such a thing as too much protein in a setting or too little? Should you be eating multiple meals throughout the day with a certain amount of protein?

Is there some formula here? We're going to get into a lot of these things and answer those questions with a great new study. But here's the deal, there's always what we thought was the answer, and then there's the latest science. And if you don't stay up to date on these things by doing something like listening to the Garage Gym Athlete podcast, or doing your own research on the literature that's out there, you will get behind, and you will eventually just be spouting off bro science like a lot of other people do.

And bro science isn't necessarily the end of the world, but if you don't stay updated in some capacity, you're just operating off of old information. A great example of this was a few weeks ago. I was at one of my My boys, I was at one of their practices and one of his teammates, dad, uh, was a professional athlete, a professional athlete at a very high level, operated for about 15 years or more in major league baseball.

So just a bet to have even that long of a career in any professional sport means you're, you're the real deal. You know what you're doing, right? And I was talking to him. We were talking about contrast therapy going between hot and cold. And he was telling me. The big benefit of going between hot and cold was getting all the lactic acid out of your muscles so you won't be sore and That's not that's not the truth at all.

I'm not trying to throw shade necessarily, but that is what was believed at one point in time We believed that lactic acid built up in the muscles and that buildup caused soreness, but we know now that lactic acid clears pretty fast, within about an hour after training. In fact, if you stay in Zone 2, that's your body's ability to maintain lactic acid clearance or being able to utilize it.

It can be utilized as a source of energy. And what actually causes muscle soreness is just the microtrauma to the muscle. Now, will everything that I just said, the new updated information change in 5, 10 years? Who knows? But the latest science that we know is that lactic acid does not cause soreness. And the only reason I'm bringing that up is because that, when you, when you land on some information that's pretty well established, pretty well known, what that was 10, 15 years ago, you just think that that's it.

And so you always have that in your brain. Now does it really matter from an operational standpoint? It can. Maybe not in that regard. Like if you're doing hot and cold contrast therapy, you're going sauna to cold plunge, you're getting all the benefits out of it. So it doesn't really matter if lactic acid is moving in and out of a muscle, but with nutrition, it is important.

Because you could be doing things incorrectly that, that just aren't good for you. So let's talk a little bit more about that today and keeping you up to date. So this science, this scientific study is called the Anabolic Response to Protein Ingestion During Recovery from Exercise Has No Upper Limit in Magnitude and Duration in Vivo in Humans.

So a lot of, uh, a lot of it's given away in the study, but I'm going to go over. A lot of different things here. So the study involved 36 healthy, recreationally active young men aged between 18 and 40 years with a body mass index between 18. 5 and 30 kilograms. So the research investigated the anabolic response to protein ingestion following exercise, particularly comparing the dose of 25 grams and 100 grams, and really even 0 grams.

There was also like a 0 grams control, 25 grams, and 100 grams. Uh, this was published in 2023. The big why behind the study, the purpose was to challenge the prevailing belief regarding the upper limit of protein synthesis and amino acid absorption post exercise, suggesting that the human body can utilize more protein than previously believed.

leading to a greater and more prolonged anabolic response. So how did they do the study? The study used a quadruple isotope tracer method with participants randomly assigned to ingest a beverage containing either 0 grams, 25 grams, or 100 grams of intrinsically labeled milk protein followed by a resistance type exercise session.

The quadruple isotope tracer feeding infusion approach allowed for detailed assessment of muscle and whole body protein synthesis rates over a 12 hour period post ingestion. So, they took these, these guys, gave them one of those three. You either get zero grams of protein, you get 25 grams of protein, or you get 100 grams of protein.

This protein has this cool new technology, or I don't know if it's new, but cool, cool technology. The quadruple isotope tracers, so ultimately the tracers are in this drink, and then they're able to follow these tracers and see where they end up in the muscle, and see what's really happening, and they're able to measure a lot of things like muscle protein synthesis.

But I want to take a step back, because that, that's the study, that's what they did, and we're, I'm going to get into a lot of the takeaways from that study. But you also have to understand muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown. And understand why this is even important. So muscle protein breakdown is the process of breaking down Old or damaged proteins within muscle cells.

This process helps in recycling amino acids for new protein synthesis and removing defective proteins that could impair cellular function. Now muscle protein synthesis is the process by which cells build new proteins. So this process is critical for muscle repair, growth, and maintenance. MPS. is stimulated by factors such as exercise, adequate nutrition, especially the ingestion of amino acids from protein, and hormonal signals.

So what's the relationship here between muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown? I actually did a YouTube video on this. It's been a couple years now, but I've gone over this topic before. So the balance between muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown determines muscle mass maintenance, growth, or loss.

So, if MPS, if muscle protein synthesis exceeds the breakdown, so if it exceeds muscle protein breakdown over a period, it results in muscle growth. That is what we call an anabolic state. Conversely, if muscle protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis, it leads to muscle loss, which is a catabolic state.

For muscle mass to increase, muscle protein synthesis must occur at a rate higher than muscle protein breakdown. So, ultimately. You want to be in an anabolic state. Or at least neutral if you're training and that's why endurance training can be tough sometimes because you can't, it can get to this overly broken down state, this catabolic state.

And so that's why, that's why concurrent training has this pushback of like how much muscle can you really grow if you're also running or cycling or doing all these other things. And the answer is you can always do them, right? You can do strength training, you can build muscle mass, you can get stronger, you can get faster, you can improve your VO2 max, you can improve your endurance.

You can do them in conjunction. But a lot of this is balancing the timing of training, and when, what type of training is happening when, how long you're resting between training sessions, if you had a strength session and an endurance session. Should you split them up by at least four hours or one, one day?

That's what the literature is saying right now, but ultimately you really want to pay attention to your nutrition. That's if you are doing concurrent training, like a lot of us are at garage gym athlete to where you want to be good at everything, then you really need to pay attention to muscle protein synthesis and making sure that you're.

You're doing everything you can to be in this anabolic state. Now, not necessarily as much as, say, like a bodybuilder. A bodybuilder can't afford to go catabolic like ever. They need to be constantly growing muscle. But for us, we want to be, have slightly more muscle protein synthesis. We want to be above as much as we can.

And how do you do that? Like, how do we pay attention to that in everyday life? 100 percent through nutrition. So we want to make sure that our muscle protein synthesis is elevated and triggered. At a high enough rate to outpace our muscle protein breakdown, which can happen just through living life, through burning calories, through endurance training, through training in general.

That's how all these things are going to happen. Not to mention it just happening on its own naturally in your body. So you want to make sure that you're eating enough protein. So that begs the question, like, how much protein should I be eating to make sure that I'm getting enough muscle protein synthesis?

So muscle protein, so going back to the study now, the protein synthesis increased. So let's take a look at what they actually were measuring and so this will give you some insight into what you should probably be doing. So after ingesting 100 grams of protein, the rate of protein synthesis was 20 percent higher than when 25 grams was ingested during the initial 0 to 4 hours post ingestion.

So again, what they're looking at in the study is a 12 hour window. So we're looking at the first. So, uh, if I have more protein, which is 100 grams versus 25 grams, right? Four times as much, I'm getting a 20 percent higher muscle pro. I'm getting my muscle protein synthesis is 20 percent higher right off the bat for the first four hours.

Very interesting. Definitely something that you want to pay attention to. So, or so already we know, okay, I'm Right after in that anabolic state window, whatever you want to call it the gains window more more protein is more So do you have to do 100 grams of protein not necessarily? I would have loved to see this broken down in further increments like a zero gram zero gram group a 25 gram group 50 gram groups 75 gram group and 100 gram group because what if You had 50 grams of protein and you were 18 percent higher than 25 grams.

That that would be very interesting to know, but we do know if you have a hundred grams of protein, zero to four hours, it's 20 percent higher. Now it gets more interesting when we talk about it going from the period of four to 12 hours when comparing a hundred grams and 25 grams. So the increase in protein synthesis four to 12 hours was 40 percent higher.

When we extend the window out a little bit longer. So in the first four hours, a hundred grams is better But in the next four to twelve hours in that window, you know those additional eight hours You have a 40 percent it's 40 percent higher In the 100 gram group, so more is more like that's, that's one of my biggest takeaways here is more is more there's, there used to be this idea that it'd be different depending on who you talk to, but they'd say if you have more than 25 grams, if you have more than 30 grams or more than 40 grams, and that's typically where people would cap out and I've even heard people say like having 50 grams of protein in a meal or more is basically like a waste of protein.

And not necessarily a waste of your supplements. Basically, people were saying, your body stops. Like, if you have too much protein, your body just can't use it anymore. There's no sense in having more than X amount of protein, because your body won't do anything. Well, that's just been completely debunked in this study.

And it's a very well put together study. Very well, like, I don't, I don't have a lot of, other than wish, wishing I saw more. increments of grams of protein, like I mentioned, 0, 100. That would have been cool, but the study is done really well. I'd like to see anybody kind of challenge it, but I thought it was done really well.

So if we're looking at zero to four hours and four to 12 hours, 20 percent increase in the first four hours in the next eight hours, we have a 40 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis. So again, the biggest takeaway here is more is more. Now, another thing that's very interesting is, is not necessarily just.

Muscle protein synthesis being stimulated because there's muscle protein synthesis, like increasing. So more protein synthesis, right? More, more muscle repair, more growth, more maintenance activities. That's what's happening. That's what I was just talking about. So the protein synthesis was increased, but how long is it elevated?

Because it's no different than if you put alcohol in your bloodstream, right? You put a little bit of alcohol in your bloodstream, your blood alcohol content goes up. But, if you put a lot of alcohol in your bloodstream, yeah, the amount goes up, but alcohol content, but it also takes longer, right? And I don't know why I'm giving an alcohol example.

I just feel like it might work in people's brains a little bit better with, yeah, people know more about alcohol. Anyway, so if you had one drink, Your body, it doesn't go up a lot and your body clears that an hour, right? With alcohol. If you have seven drinks, your blood alcohol content is going to shoot way up.

And it's also going to last if it's like that one drink per hour, it's going to last seven hours, right? So now that's what I'm talking about, so the elevation of protein synthesis. How long is it? What's the difference between 25 grams and 100 grams? Well, for 25 grams of protein, whole body protein synthesis rates returned to baseline approximately 360 minutes or 6 hours after ingestion.

So, 25 grams of protein. Muscle protein synthesis shoots up, and then it just trickles down, trickles down over that six hours, six hour time frame, and then right around the six hours, you're just back to baseline with 25 grams. So you have about a six hour window. You have, you take those 25 grams of protein in your muscle protein synthesis elevates and it stays elevated, slowly ticking off each hour for six hours.

Now, how about for 100 grams of protein? Well, the rates remained elevated for about 720 minutes or 12 hours. And some, and would go longer, didn't like just go back to baseline. Like it actually would continue a little bit longer. So going back to the biggest takeaway, more is more like twice as much. So if you had a hundred grams of protein, which is four times much protein, but it lasts for twice as long.

So your muscle muscle protein synthesis is elevated for a very long time, 12 hours. So just think about your day. If you needed to have, let's call it 150 grams of protein in a day. And you're just, you're not a person who wants to eat four to six times a day. That old, like in that old, inadequate, outdated way, people think that that diet should work.

What if you just want to eat twice a day and you want to have 75 grams of protein in each sitting? That would be perfect. It would be fine, like your muscle protein synthesis would be constantly elevated throughout the day. You'd always be building, you'd always be maintaining, and you'd always be in this anabolic state that we want.

So again, more is more when it comes to protein. Now I want to talk a little bit more about how much protein you should be getting because I don't want to, um, I want to talk a little bit more about tactical takeaways from this information, because that's, that kind of concludes the study, but the biggest thing that I've seen in the literature too, is making sure that you have enough total, total protein.

And so in a, in a given day, making sure you just have enough protein each and every single day is one of the most, if not. The most important thing. So let's talk about how much protein you actually need. And this is the baseline I give for people. So if I say, get enough protein, what do I mean by that specific thing?

Well, my kind of baseline is to have one gram per pound of lean body mass. Again, enough protein would be one gram per pound of lean body mass. So let's just give a fictitious example of a 200 pound person who is 15 percent body fat. I just want to help you calculate this so there's no ambiguity. You know exactly what you're doing when you go to sit down and calculate this for yourself.

You do have to know your body fat. You can estimate it. I think an estimation is fine. You can go get a DEXA. Uh, you can get some calipers and, or go get a personal trainer at the gym to do it for you. Something like that. Ultimately fictitious example, 200 pound person, 15 percent body fat. Well, that's 30 pounds of fat.

So what we're simple multiplication, we're taking 15 percent of 200 and that's 30 pounds. Okay, so if I subtract that, say 200 minus 30, that means I have 170 pounds of lean body mass. So that's going to be this person's baseline for protein. We've got 170 grams. And some people say one gram per pound of body weight.

And so I, I'm okay with that one. I think that can be a little bit higher and tougher to hit. I think it's fine though. Like it's, it's a fun, I don't normally recommend people go above that, but I think if you're doing what we're doing, concurrent training, lifting training, you know, what, four to six days per week, I think that it's, that's a great range.

So given that range of. One gram per pound of lean body mass to one gram per pound of body weight. That would put this person in shooting for a hundred and seventy to two hundred grams of protein per day. That's if they really wanted to make sure that their muscle protein synthesis was, was Maximize, they're in that anabolic state and no muscle waste staying, no catabolic state.

So that's how you should calculate. That's how you should start thinking about, okay, how much protein do I need each and every single day? Now, when it comes down to, okay, how should I break up that protein? Well, old ideas would be that you should have 25 to 30 grams of protein per sitting, and then you would just need to Divide that up, right?

So if you were to have 170 and you're divided by 30, that means you should be eating a little over five and a half meals per day. But what if you don't want to do that? We've talked about there are other factors to eating, like an insulin response. I'm assuming you're eating something with your protein, right?

So you might have this insulin response or you don't necessarily want to be spiking your insulin, in my opinion. Every couple of hours, I tend to lean more towards this, that this. There, there is a factor with insulin that I think is being overlooked a lot in the industry right now. So, the, some of the low carb people are more on board with it, but the people who believe it's only calories in calories out are not really for that.

My two senses, I think there, there is a significant factor there. So, if you want to get this 170 grams of protein somehow You could do it, you could just have 85 grams of protein in two different settings and that's going to be okay. Could you have 170 grams of protein once? So if you're doing the one meal a day diet that some people do.

I think that ultimately, yeah, you would be fine. They didn't necessarily find an upper limit here. So this should give you a lot of peace in the amount of leeway that you have to be able to hit your goals without having to adhere to strict timing of calories. And you can absolutely make up for it. So say you were not paying attention to your protein most of the day, and you only had 30 grams of protein.

You just weren't paying attention to things. And you only had 30. And then at the end of the day, you had to get 140 grams of protein. Granted, that would be very hard and probably a little bit difficult on your digestive system. Could you do it? Yes, so I think that's my last point is that is the only factor I think that could probably limit the amount of protein.

So say you were trying to get 200 grams of protein in a day, and you were doing the one meal a day diet. That's a lot. Like getting 200 grams of protein all in one pop, like that's just gonna be difficult to do. You're eating a ton of meat. And probably washing the meat down with a protein shake with some, some eggs.

And that's just a lot of protein to consume all at once. So my recommendation would to be not to do that because it's going, it will be tough just in your digestive system. If you want to do the one meal a day thing, go for it. But ultimately, you have a lot of leeway. You have a lot of flexibility. Just getting the total amount of protein.

So go through that equation first. Be like, okay, here's how much I need to get. It's somewhere between one gram per pound of lean body mass and one gram per pound of body weight. And now that's kind of like, okay, here's where I should be. Now you get to decide how you want to break that up. Personally, I like eating fewer meals throughout the day.

I don't like eating five, six meals throughout the day. If I could get my protein in two to three meals a day, Perfect. It's exactly what I want. Having a lot of protein in a meal like that too, also helps, um, you know, balance out blood, blood sugar levels, not having huge spikes of insulin. So I think, I think that's a great way to do it.

And that's pretty much it. That's what you need to pay attention to protein. Stay up to date with the science. Hopefully you've learned something here. You learned that there really is not necessarily an upper limit for protein consumption. There definitely is a lower limit as we've seen here. If you only had five or 10 grams of protein in a meal.

That's probably not enough to do much. It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis as protein does, but it might not be enough to throw you in the anabolic state. So I would say within this range, keeping within 25 grams to a hundred grams per meal is going to be great until you get to the amount of, uh, total protein that you need throughout the day.

That's how you should be shooting for protein. But that's it for this one. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to the Garage Gym Athlete podcast. If you want to be a part of our training, head over to garagegymathlete. com. Sign up for a free trial. We would love to have you in the programming.

And for anybody else who's looking to get started and do this kind of training, this is a great place to be. It's just a great place to be. We have a lot of new programs, a lot of tracks, a lot of ways to get involved with garage gym, athlete training, and for all of our athletes out there crushing it every single day.

Really do appreciate you, but that's it for this one. Remember if you don't kill comfort, comfort will kill you.

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