Debunking myths: you can’t use more than 30g of proteins per meal

It’s said again and again, it has to be true: you can’t use more than 30 grams of protein per meal. Except, it isn’t true.

Think about this for a moment: we evolved hunting for days in the savannah, trying to catch that gazelle that we followed for days, eating little or nothing in the process; then Gnuuk was finally able to throw a rock and kill the animal, and we went back to the tribe. After roughly chopping the meat, we just eat a little bit and keep the rest for the 5 or six meals a day necessary to get the amount of protein to rebuild our muscles.

Unlikely, isn’t it?

Well, there is science to confirm it, too.

A few studies were investigating the protein anabolism in young and elderly women, dividing them in two groups: one with what’s called a pulse diet, where the main meal consisted in 80% of the total protein intake (50-65g in the main meal), the other group with the protein intake spread over four meals.

The total amount of protein fed to both group was 1.7 grams per kg of lean mass per day.

The result? For the young women, no difference in protein retention were measured, meaning that eating a big amount in one meal didn’t have any influence, but in the elderly women the group with the pulse diet actually increased significantly the protein anabolism.

Another study done on hospitalized elderly patients had the same result, and confirmed that the in the worst case, eating a large amount of proteins in a meal doesn’t modify the amino acid retention compared to smaller amounts split in more meals, but also that in older people it could even be quite beneficial in improving muscle mass and thus reducing sarcopenia.

Protein pulse feeding improves protein retention in elderly women
Protein feeding pattern does not affect protein retention in young women
Long-lasting improved amino acid bioavailability associated with protein pulse feeding in hospitalized elderly patients: a randomized controlled trial

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