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  • Writer's pictureChris

Optimizing Protein

Let's talk protein!

After total daily calories, the next most important thing we can focus on in our diet is protein, and much like calories, the total number is going to be the primary area of focus. However, with protein, some other considerations have a large enough impact on how well our bodies use the protein that they warrant some focus.

Total amount - There are a few factors that go into how much protein you should be eating; the type of activity you're doing, your body composition, if you are male or female, your age, and if you are in a caloric deficit. The more female you are, the older you are, and if you are in a caloric deficit the higher your protein needs are per meal will be. Once you consider the source of protein and the number of daily meals you will eat you will be able to find an optimal daily protein number.

Source - protein from animal sources will have a better amino acid profile and have higher levels of the amino acid leucine. This amino acid appears to a direct driver of muscle protein synthesis but there is a minimum threshold of roughly 3-4 grams of leucine required to ignite MPS. To reach this leucine number you would need 30-40 grams of protein from meat and a significantly higher amount from a non-animal source. This is important when you are limited in your daily calories, the better the source (measured by leucine content, amino acid profile, and bioavailability) the less you will have to eat to reach the same result.

Timing - As mentioned above, we want to get the most of our protein by igniting muscle protein synthesis. However, once we spur MPS, there is a "cooling off" period where any additional leucine won't create anymore MPS. This period is 3-5 hours post digestion. The size of the meal and the content of the meal will impact the rate of digestion so larger meals that contain a lot of fat will be on the outside range of time and smaller meals will be on the lower end of the range. After the refractory period, we want to have another protein feeding that will ignite MPS. When you consider the above we are looking at 3-6 meals per day that realistically can contribute to muscle growth and recovery.

If you follow these guidelines your protein intake will be somewhere in the area of 185-225 grams per day spread throughout 3-5 meals a day with the focus on eating protein from animal sources. Total calories will reflect what you want your body weight to be doing.

Get those gains!!


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