Does Protein Timing Matter?
Updated: May 11, 2019
Hello All! I've seen an interesting trend of posts on the internet claiming various things in relation to protein ingestion and the timing and how it relates to muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle growth. One of the more popular claims I've been seeing is that "It doesn't matter when you consume protein, just make sure you hit your macros!" Conducting less than 5 minutes of research might indicate otherwise.
Because not all proteins are the same, everything digests in the body differently. This means that there are a lot of variables to account for with regards to muscle recovery and growth. One thing stands for certain, protein intake timing MATTERS! That being said, if an individual is struggling to consume the adequate quantity of protein in their daily intake, Nutrition professionals are not likely to focus on the timing of their protein intake, but rather focus on the quantity and quality of proteins they consume.
You may or may not have heard that there is a limit to how much protein your body can handle at any given time, and that is actually true. While the limit to how much protein your muscles uptake at any given moment is evident, it changes based on a list of environmental factors (i.e. your anthropometric measurements, sleep, level of activity, the bioavailability of proteins, digestibility of proteins etc.). A 2013 paper from the journal of physiology showed that when comparing protein intake patterns, (10g of protein at a time; 20g of protein at a time; 40g protein at a time) consuming 20g of protein every couple of hours is the most effective way of increasing MPS or myofibrillar (muscle) protein synthesis. Therefore proving that timing does play a role in body composition, specifically muscle growth and maintenance. If you're really busy, you may not have the time or the desire to worry about making sure you're consuming 20g of protein each meal over the course of many meals throughout the day. The same research paper showed that while 20g of protein per meal elicits the best results in terms of MPS, it's not the only method that brings results. In fact, as long as the protein quantity remains adequate, the individual would still produce reasonable results.
Understanding the digestibility of your proteins is important in perfecting the timing of your meal consumption. For starters you should understand that while mixed meals and wholesome foods are always the best option in terms of a "healthy" diet, protein powders have their place. I.e. a bolus of whey protein is ideal for post workout consumption along with some carbohydrates in order to quickly stimulate MPS. Whey protein is the purest, fasted digesting complete protein. While it's ideal for post workout, it isn't always the best protein to consume for every meal. Partially due to lack of nutrients otherwise found in other protein sources, and also due to the fast digestibility. One common example where whey protein is not the best option is when there are long bouts of fasting, (i.e. when you're sleeping) you want to make sure that your body is constantly fueled properly with protein on board. If protein powders are the most ideal for the individual, due to convenience, considering supplementation by means of vegetable protein powders, or casein protein to increase slow acting proteins could be the best fit.
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Additionally, just going to give a special shout out to my client Samuel Rayner, for getting his blog published on Sergetti.com. He's a professional young lad from Pershore, UK with a promising future in sport (tennis) and he has quite the inspirational story, link below! Check it out!
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