Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

about us





Eating more than 45 g protein per meal won't get you more muscle - but eating more protein-rich meals per day will

The results of the study that sports scientists at the University of Mississippi published in Clinical Nutrition may seem obvious to regular readers of this webzine, but for the sake of completeness we're posting them here. According to the researchers, even if you don't do weight training, you'll build up more muscle and more strength by eating several meals a day that contain 30-45 g protein. Adding more protein to the meal seems to produce few results - but eating more meals with protein does help.

Protein shake
The researchers used data that had been gathered for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES]. The survey looked at 1081 healthy adults aged 50-85.

The researchers had information on the participants' diet, and knew how many meals they ate each day, and how many grams of protein they consumed per day. In addition, the original researchers had measured the amount of strength the participants were capable of developing on a leg-extension machine. They could also measure the amount of muscle mass the participants had in their upper legs by looking at scans.

The figure below shows the relationship between protein intake from 1 or 2 meals and muscle mass and strength in the upper leg.

The participants who only consumed protein at one meal in the day showed optimal muscle mass and strength at an intake of 30 g protein per meal.

The participants that consumed protein at two meals each day had more muscle mass and strength. Their optimal muscle mass and strength was at an intake of 45 g protein per meal.

Eating more than 45 g protein per meal won't get you more muscle – but eating more protein-rich meals per day will

The researchers were unable to work out the effect of eating three meals a day containing 30-45 g protein from the data they had.

"Currently, the recommended daily amount for protein makes no recommendation on the per-meal distribution of dietary protein throughout the day", the researchers concluded. "We propose that in a national sample of U.S. adults eating protein more frequently within the day may be an important strategy for increasing and/or maintaining lean body mass and muscle strength."

"Further, a threshold of 30-45 g of dietary protein per meal seems to produce the greatest association with lean body mass and strength when consuming more than one meal at that specific intake."

"Consuming dietary protein at more than one meal may be of importance for individuals seeking to optimize muscle mass and strength, but may be a particularly important strategy among individuals vulnerable to muscle mass loss including older adults and obese individuals undergoing energy-restricted diets."

Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr 7. pii: S0261-5614(16)30018-8.

Same amount of protein at every meal gives optimal muscle synthesis 11.06.2014
Portion of protein every three hours is best for muscle building 16.05.2013
Post workout: your muscles benefit more from one large portion of whey than ten small ones 17.04.2013