How Much Protein Can You Absorb At One Time?
The biggest protein myth is that you can only digest 30 grams of protein at one time. Find out what's wrong with this belief and just how much protein you need. This is a common question. I also get variations such as, how much protein can you digest at one time?
There are two ways to answer this, because there really two questions being asked.
1) How much protein can the digestive system physically absorb into the bloodstream from a meal?
And the MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION...
2) How much protein can you body actually utilize?
1) About 95% and higher, unless you have some type of digestive system malfunction.
So if you get convinced by supplement companies to drink a 42g protein shake in 5 minutes, you'll still probably absorb at 38 or more grams of that protein.
Your muscle growth is not limited by the amount of protein you can DIGEST or ABSORB.
Your muscle growth IS LIMITED by the amount of protein that your body can utilize for protein synthesis.
So the answer to #2...
2) A lot less than you think.
You really don't need 40, or 30, or probably even 20g of protein per meal to keep your protein synthesis humming along. See Nutrition Help Expert Brad Pilon's post on "How Much Protein Do We Really Need"
Any protein that your body can't use for growth will be shuttled into a process where it is broken down (de-aminated: meaning the nitrogen is removed from the molecule and it becomes a carbon skeleton) to be used in energy pathways.
Now, there are benefits for eating extra protein (in my opinion) when dieting, mainly that it helps to suppress appetite.
But the bottom line to the question I am asked almost everyday is...
a) Your body can digest and absorb almost all of the protein you eat without problem.
b) Your muscles can only do so much with protein...the muscle growth process is RARELY, if ever limited by the amount of protein we consume. Almost all of us can easily get enough protein for maximum muscle growth without the need for eating 50g of protein 6 times per day. Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, and Gunter Schlerkcamp excluded, of course.
Overall, I'd think twice about the need to slam down a 40-50g protein shake...just think of the children and puppies you'll save by not gassing them out with protein farts.
Real food should cover all your protein needs.
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training for Fat Loss Nutrition Guidelines have helped thousands of men and women with weight loss and fat burning in less than 45 minutes three times per week. More nutrition help and fat loss workouts show you how to burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment. Craig's bodyweight for abs exercises help you lose fat without any equipment at all.