How Much Protein Can You Digest Per Meal? (ABSORPTION MYTH)

How Much Protein Can You Absorb In One ...

What’s up guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.COM. Today I want to talk to you guys about Protein Absorption and this controversy that was sparked by the video I did about my 61 gram meal of protein in the morning, with lots of people saying, but Jeff, isn’t it true that only 30 grams of protein is the max amount that you can absorb in a single meal? That is a bodybuilding myth that had been perpetuated for far too long and I felt like it deserved it’s own video to try to break it down as easily as we could to show you that it’s simply not true.

There is no magic 30 gram limit. Matter of fact it could be much, much higher than that. So the first thing that we have to understand is where did this all come about in the first place.

A lot of it came from research that showed that protein absorbed differently, was absorbed differently depending upon the source of the protein. So some of the research showed, believe it or not, that at the high end here, there was a Pork mixture that got absorbed at about 10 grams per hour, ok. And that Whey Protein, which we know is a highly absorbable form of protein, came in in the 7 to 9 grams or so, per hour rate. Then we had our Chicken that was somewhere in the 5 grams per hour rate, ok. And then we know that we had Egg protein that was only being absorbed at 1.2 grams per hour.

Right, the next piece of information that we know is that the average transit between the stomach through the small intestines is about 6 hours. So what the researchers did who came up with this magic number, God knows how long ago, is they basically took an average, knowing that protein transit rate is somewhere between 1 and 10 grams an hour with an average being around 5, and a total transit distance or length in time of 6 hours. You’ve got 6 x 5 that’s 30. So basically at 30 grams you can no longer absorb any of this. And you can no longer digest that other remaining extra protein.

Well there’s a couple of problems with this guys, first of all. Right here these numbers were widely varied because the methods that they collected this information were varied. Basically you’ve got some studies that were doing this through a direct infusion into the blood of these protein sources versus some with oral ingestion. We know that that can dramatically change the outcome of these studies.

So, first of all, this might all be flawed in the first place. And then secondly, we know that transit time can really vary as well, based on even the training state and when you’re ingesting your food. A lot of flawed information here.

And another thing you can do, just with your own critical eye is, say to yourself, hold on a second, if egg protein is only 1.2 grams per hour, does that mean that if you have 24 grams of protein from eggs which is not all that much as I showed you in the video the other day, that’s only about 6 or 7 egg whites, that that’s going to take you over 24 hours to digest. See right off the bat you start to think, there’s something wrong here. So number 2, we have to make sure that we clarify a major difference between the words protein absorption and protein utilization.

Absorption is the ability of your body to take it into the bloodstream and start using it somewhere, somehow, someway. Utilization is actually using it for the purposes that we’re looking at here and that’s utilized towards new muscle growth, new protein synthesis. That’s really, if you’re a guy lifting weights probably your primary concern.

Well, let’s take a look at quick little drawing here. Here is a guy, ok that’s me with my big nose, here, ok. He’s got his esophagus down into the stomach, ok and then off of the stomach into the small intestine, ok.

The beginning part of the small intestine that’s the duodenum, that’s where a lot of our absorption occurs. But in the digestive process, you eat some protein, your saliva starts to break things down, a little bit. It goes down into the stomach, here is where the action starts.

We have our hydrochloric acid that’s going to break our protein down into it’s constituent, amino acids, some, little bit of larger chains, di peptides, tri peptides but eventually they start to flow into the duodenum here and that’s where a lot of our absorption is going to occur. And as I said, absorption is a much different concept than utilization. We’re going to absorb almost all of the protein that we bring in our bodies because we’re not stupid.

It leads us into our next point, our humans have survived for a long time for a reason. Our bodies are adaptive, they’re not stupid. You’re going to absorb almost all of it. If you didn’t, if you thought that if you had an 80 gram meal that you could only absorb about 30, you’re basically passing 50 grams right through and out the other way. You got a 50 gram mini steaks coming out your ass if you think that’s what‘s going to actually occur.

So in actuality when we’re talking about absorption, we do get a high rate of absorption, because what happens are these di-tri peptides and their constituent amino acids do get taken up into the bloodstream, but something happens right there. We have a first pass metabolism, it takes that through, again, just the absorption through the small intestine, the small intestine uses a lot of those amino acids for itself and it’s own protein synthesis. As does the liver, it also uses it for it’s own protein synthesis. So what you’re left with is not what you brought in. 30 grams are not coming all the way through to be utilized by the muscles.

You’re left with a lot smaller percentage of what your initial intake was to actually be utilized by the muscles. So that’s one concept. Now the next thing we have to talk about. As I said humans are smart.

So we, based on our forefathers, were out there hunting and gathering in spurts. We would take in and maybe get access to a meal that had a 150 grams of protein, if we were so lucky back as a caveman, to eat that and then allow maybe 24-48 hours before we ever found another meal again. If you think that we only digested 30 grams of that and the rest was gone, we never would have lived this long. So studies now show and support that, very interestingly, if you have 150 grams of protein in one meal, ok one meal, versus 30 grams of protein in 5 meals, spread throughout the day, the overall nitrogen excretion, which would be a measure of the waste of the protein and also protein synthesis, stayed the same. It’s the same between the two, in one meal versus in 5 meals.

So it kind of threw that whole myth about a maximum amount being necessary for you to realize any gains and benefits from it. But we have to understand, muscle growth is not all about protein guys, it should never all be about protein. And when you think, because this might support those that believe Intermittent Fasting is the way to go because they’ll say, well I’ll just get all my food in, in one shot or at least in a very consolidated window and then I won’t have to worry about eating for all those other hours of the day, versus the guy that says he wants to eat 5 or 6 times a day. People will say that, that is support for that not being the ideal way to eat. Doing so ignores an entirely different concept here guys and that is blood sugar stability, ok.

The stability of your blood sugar is paramount, I believe, to realizing long term muscle gains by looking at the big picture, ok. If we look at just protein in isolation, we know that that really doesn’t have an impact on our blood sugar. But that’s not how we eat. We don’t ever really eat protein in isolation and if you are, I can tell you’re having a pretty boring and bland diet that likely you’re not going to be able to stick to for very long.

We usually eat foods in combination. Proteins and carbohydrates together are going to have an impact on our blood sugar and the way we feel. So if you go and you feel that you’re going to eat all of your meals in one consolidated time frame because from a protein standpoint, it’s not going have a difference. It is going to have a major difference on how your brain perceives that type of approach to eating.

And I’m not talking about here, any impact on metabolism. That’s long ago been a myth that has been dispelled. We’re not talking about a metabolism boosting effects of a stable blood sugar.

What’s up guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.COM. Today I want to talk to you guys about Protein Absorption and this controversy that was sparked by the video I did about my 61 gram meal of protein in the morning, with lots of people saying, but Jeff, isn’t it true that only 30 grams of protein is the max amount that you can absorb in a single meal? That is a bodybuilding myth that had been perpetuated for far too long and I felt like it deserved it’s own video to try to break it down as easily as we could to show you that it’s simply not true.

There is no magic 30 gram limit. Matter of fact it could be much, much higher than that. So the first thing that we have to understand is where did this all come about in the first place.

A lot of it came from research that showed that protein absorbed differently, was absorbed differently depending upon the source of the protein. So some of the research showed, believe it or not, that at the high end here, there was a Pork mixture that got absorbed at about 10 grams per hour, ok. And that Whey Protein, which we know is a highly absorbable form of protein, came in in the 7 to 9 grams or so, per hour rate. Then we had our Chicken that was somewhere in the 5 grams per hour rate, ok. And then we know that we had Egg protein that was only being absorbed at 1.2 grams per hour.

Right, the next piece of information that we know is that the average transit between the stomach through the small intestines is about 6 hours. So what the researchers did who came up with this magic number, God knows how long ago, is they basically took an average, knowing that protein transit rate is somewhere between 1 and 10 grams an hour with an average being around 5, and a total transit distance or length in time of 6 hours. You’ve got 6 x 5 that’s 30. So basically at 30 grams you can no longer absorb any of this. And you can no longer digest that other remaining extra protein.

Well there’s a couple of problems with this guys, first of all. Right here these numbers were widely varied because the methods that they collected this information were varied. Basically you’ve got some studies that were doing this through a direct infusion into the blood of these protein sources versus some with oral ingestion. We know that that can dramatically change the outcome of these studies.

So, first of all, this might all be flawed in the first place. And then secondly, we know that transit time can really vary as well, based on even the training state and when you’re ingesting your food. A lot of flawed information here.

How Much Protein Can You Digest Per ...

And another thing you can do, just with your own critical eye is, say to yourself, hold on a second, if egg protein is only 1.2 grams per hour, does that mean that if you have 24 grams of protein from eggs which is not all that much as I showed you in the video the other day, that’s only about 6 or 7 egg whites, that that’s going to take you over 24 hours to digest. See right off the bat you start to think, there’s something wrong here. So number 2, we have to make sure that we clarify a major difference between the words protein absorption and protein utilization.

Absorption is the ability of your body to take it into the bloodstream and start using it somewhere, somehow, someway. Utilization is actually using it for the purposes that we’re looking at here and that’s utilized towards new muscle growth, new protein synthesis. That’s really, if you’re a guy lifting weights probably your primary concern.

Well, let’s take a look at quick little drawing here. Here is a guy, ok that’s me with my big nose, here, ok. He’s got his esophagus down into the stomach, ok and then off of the stomach into the small intestine, ok.

The beginning part of the small intestine that’s the duodenum, that’s where a lot of our absorption occurs. But in the digestive process, you eat some protein, your saliva starts to break things down, a little bit. It goes down into the stomach, here is where the action starts.

We have our hydrochloric acid that’s going to break our protein down into it’s constituent, amino acids, some, little bit of larger chains, di peptides, tri peptides but eventually they start to flow into the duodenum here and that’s where a lot of our absorption is going to occur. And as I said, absorption is a much different concept than utilization. We’re going to absorb almost all of the protein that we bring in our bodies because we’re not stupid.

It leads us into our next point, our humans have survived for a long time for a reason. Our bodies are adaptive, they’re not stupid. You’re going to absorb almost all of it. If you didn’t, if you thought that if you had an 80 gram meal that you could only absorb about 30, you’re basically passing 50 grams right through and out the other way. You got a 50 gram mini steaks coming out your ass if you think that’s what‘s going to actually occur.

So in actuality when we’re talking about absorption, we do get a high rate of absorption, because what happens are these di-tri peptides and their constituent amino acids do get taken up into the bloodstream, but something happens right there. We have a first pass metabolism, it takes that through, again, just the absorption through the small intestine, the small intestine uses a lot of those amino acids for itself and it’s own protein synthesis. As does the liver, it also uses it for it’s own protein synthesis. So what you’re left with is not what you brought in. 30 grams are not coming all the way through to be utilized by the muscles.

You’re left with a lot smaller percentage of what your initial intake was to actually be utilized by the muscles. So that’s one concept. Now the next thing we have to talk about. As I said humans are smart.

So we, based on our forefathers, were out there hunting and gathering in spurts. We would take in and maybe get access to a meal that had a 150 grams of protein, if we were so lucky back as a caveman, to eat that and then allow maybe 24-48 hours before we ever found another meal again. If you think that we only digested 30 grams of that and the rest was gone, we never would have lived this long. So studies now show and support that, very interestingly, if you have 150 grams of protein in one meal, ok one meal, versus 30 grams of protein in 5 meals, spread throughout the day, the overall nitrogen excretion, which would be a measure of the waste of the protein and also protein synthesis, stayed the same. It’s the same between the two, in one meal versus in 5 meals.

So it kind of threw that whole myth about a maximum amount being necessary for you to realize any gains and benefits from it. But we have to understand, muscle growth is not all about protein guys, it should never all be about protein. And when you think, because this might support those that believe Intermittent Fasting is the way to go because they’ll say, well I’ll just get all my food in, in one shot or at least in a very consolidated window and then I won’t have to worry about eating for all those other hours of the day, versus the guy that says he wants to eat 5 or 6 times a day. People will say that, that is support for that not being the ideal way to eat. Doing so ignores an entirely different concept here guys and that is blood sugar stability, ok.

The stability of your blood sugar is paramount, I believe, to realizing long term muscle gains by looking at the big picture, ok. If we look at just protein in isolation, we know that that really doesn’t have an impact on our blood sugar. But that’s not how we eat. We don’t ever really eat protein in isolation and if you are, I can tell you’re having a pretty boring and bland diet that likely you’re not going to be able to stick to for very long.

We usually eat foods in combination. Proteins and carbohydrates together are going to have an impact on our blood sugar and the way we feel. So if you go and you feel that you’re going to eat all of your meals in one consolidated time frame because from a protein standpoint, it’s not going have a difference. It is going to have a major difference on how your brain perceives that type of approach to eating.

And I’m not talking about here, any impact on metabolism. That’s long ago been a myth that has been dispelled. We’re not talking about a metabolism boosting effects of a stable blood sugar.

We’re talking about the delivery of blood glucose to your brain and it’s ability to keep you functioning at your best, and how that will relate to your workouts in a long term. Because your brain thrives on having a consistent delivery of glucose, it’s primary fuel to operate at it’s best. And when your brain is not operating at it’s best you can feel fatigue, you can feel irritable, you can feel even dizzy, right, low energy. How are you going to attack your workouts with your best intensity if you’re brain is low on blood sugar.

If your brain is suffering for the primary fuel it craves, you’re not going to. So think about the long term implications of that on your training. So guys, all in all, I feel as if sometimes, we put the cart before the horse. If you are concentrating so much on the minutiae of , oh I can’t eat 35 grams of protein or more. Or 30 grams of protein or my God if I eat 65 grams of protein I’m going to basically turn into an onion or something.

Something weird is going to happen to me. A lot of times I find guys putting the complicated things, the minutiae, in front of the big picture because it makes avoiding the big picture a lot easier. If I can focus on the things that are going to take a lot more work, it confuses the matter and it makes it a lot easier for me to just say, well you know what I just can’t really do it because it’s so confusing even the researchers don’t know what they’re doing. That’s not how it goes guys.

For me in particular, I have found that a boost of protein, eating 60 grams of protein or so in the morning has worked well for me. Again this is going to vary. Even the upper range of protein, there is a daily range most likely, to what you can take in, in a day.

But it is so varies depending upon the size of the individual, their experience weight training, when they‘re taking in their protein. There‘s a lot of factors that come in to why the body responds a certain way to it. But for me I find that getting a consistent delivery of protein, having carbohydrates. I believe carbohydrates are a very important part of our daily diets, they should not be avoided. Having those two come in together, getting a consistent flow of nutrients in my body.

Keeping my blood sugar stable throughout the day. Keeping my energy level stable so that I can attack my workouts with intensity. Relying on higher protein options like my RX Supplements that allow me to get my protein a little bit easier. And sort of having a whole simplified approach to eating.

For me it’s simple. For me it’s very easy for me to do. I find that that’s been effective for me. What happens with you is a much different story. But as I always say here guys, if you want a simplified approach, if you want to follow a plan that breaks it down, literally I give you exactly what I do, meal by meal, exactly what I eat.

That video was just a sneak peak into what I do. But there’s other, I don’t eat the same thing every single day, so there’s other meal options and things of how I utilize my proteins and how I combine things together. And exactly how I supplement. All of the information I put in our ATHLEANX Training Program, if you want to get a day by day, step by step approach to nutrition to finally start making it simple, then you can do that at ATHLEANX.COM.

Just grab my 90 day training program. I always say it’s mine because it really is based off of what I do and what I’ve done with my athletes that I know works. And again, you can focus on trying to rely on old dogma or old myths to make it a lot more confusing and to slow down your ultimate progression.

But I don’t think we have to make it that complicated guys. So here you go, there you have it. Hopefully this video was helpful.

If you found it helpful, make sure you leave a thumbs up and some comments below. In the meantime, I’ll be back here again in just a couple days with more videos. Let me know what you want to see and I’ll make sure that I bring them to you.

Thanks guys.

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