Packing on Muscle: More Frequent Small Protein Doses or Bigger Serving Less Often
by: Robbie Durand
Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym. Whey protein contains an incredible range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly which make it superior to other proteins. Whey protein is the highest source of leucine in any protein powder which is the primary stimulus for increased muscle protein synthesis. Numerous studies show that whey protein can help you increase strength, gain muscle and lose significant amounts of body fat. Not only is whey protein needed for optimal increases in lean muscle, but whey protein is also one of the healthiest proteins you can consume due to its high glutathione levels. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant for those that don’t know. The newest research on protein is fascinating because you don’t need a whole lot to get the maximal benefits.
It’s been reported that 30-40 grams of whey protein stimulates maximal protein synthesis and adding more protein did not further stimulate protein synthesis. In middle-aged and older adult’s higher protein intakes in the range of ~30 to 40 grams of protein appear to be necessary to maximize the response. Although some studies have found that lower amounts of protein are needed for maximal protein synthesis, these studies used only whey protein. The co-ingestion of substantial amounts of other nutrients such as fat, carbohydrate, and fiber with the protein may affect rates of digestion and affect the rate of protein synthesis. An important consideration to remember about protein ingestion is that there is no capacity for storage of diet-derived amino acids beyond their almost immediate use in protein processes.
Researchers wanted to examine what influence frequent doses of protein on muscle mass. It has been hypothesized that for older adults evenly distributing consumption of protein at 30-40 g per meal throughout the day may result in more favorable retention of lean mass and muscular strength. To examine whether the number of times an individual consumed a minimum of 30 g of protein at a meal is associated with leg lean mass and knee extensor strength.
Data from the 1999-2002 NHANES were used, with 1081 adults (50-85 y) constituting the analytic sample. The researchers found that more frequent consumption of meals containing between 30 and 45 g protein/meal produced the greatest association with leg lean mass and strength. The researcher commented in the study, “Thus, the consumption of 1-2 daily meals with protein content from 30 to 45 g may be an important strategy for increasing and maintaining lean body mass and muscle strength with aging.”
Key Point: This study that small frequent meals with 30-45 grams of protein was associated with increased muscle mass in older adults.
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