Saturday, October 31, 2009

Does More Protein = More Muscle??

You need to eat lots of protein if you want to build muscle, right?  All the really BIG body builders eat massive quantities of protein, (and likely wash it down with a fair bit of "juice") so it must work...  Well, the answer is yes...and no.  While protein is definitely key in muscle synthesis, a recent study shows that the body can only use the first 30 grams of protein ingested at a meal to actually build muscle.  Thirty grams is the amount in about 4 ounces of meat.  So, what happens when you eat more than 4 ounces?  The excess is broken down and used for energy or converted to glucose and/or fat.  Here's a link to a summary of the research: and the original research article abstract:

So the takeaway message is this, more than 30 grams of protein at any one meal does not equal more muscle.  Don't concentrate your daily protein into one or two meals, rather spread it out.  Try 30 grams each at breakfast, lunch and dinner and an additional 5-20 grams for your snacks.  A Paleo/Zone type eating pattern will help keep meals balanced, providing not too little or too much at any one eating occassion.  To get the maximal muscle building "bang for your protein buck" at every meal follow these rules: Have a "Palm" of protein (serving size the palm of your hand), 2 "Fists" of non-startchy vegetables, 1 "Fist" of fruit (unless you are trying to really lean out and going very low carb) and then add a good portion of fat (olive oil, almond butter, tree nuts, avocado, etc.) depending on your caloric needs and diet/performance goals.  This plan is guaranteed to "PUMP YOU UP"!!


  1. Would an individuals lean body weight allow them to use more protein per meal? Would you be able to use more protein post workout?

    I ask because I like to get 150-200g of protein a day (I weigh 200). At 30-20-30-20-30 for five meals, that only would get me to 130 grams.

  2. Ryan,
    The study looked at 17 elderly and 17 young adults and the results show that there was no increase in muscle synthesis beyond the 30 gram serving. This is not to say that your body may respond differently, but I would venture to guess that regardless of lean body mass the amount of protein the body can process at any one time would not be changed. If you are aiming for 150-200 grams you may try adding an additional snack, and/or up your protein to 30 grams at all of your snacks. There is no guarantee that all the protein that you are eating is being converted to muscle, but it is fairly safe to say that if you are maintaining your weight and lean body mass percentage, you are not over consuming any of the macronutrients and are not gaining fat. I hope this helps!

  3. Thanks, Ill give it a try and see how I respond.