How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb In One Hour?
There has been a lot of speculation on the topic of how much protein can your body absorb in one hour.
The most common myth circulating this question is “your body can only absorb 30 grams of protein in one hour”.
Any extra protein you take in is not absorbed and essentially wasted.
This is not true.
Most bodybuilders will typically eat 7 meals a day and space them out between every 2-3 hours.
This is so they can get an equal amount of protein absorption throughout each hour of the day.
Some bodybuilders even set an alarm to wake them up throughout the night so they can eat.
They feel that if they don’t keep eating they will become catabolic and lose muscle mass.
How Does Protein Absorption Work?
Protein absorption is taken place in the small intestine.
A enzyme called pepsin is use by the body to break down the peptide bonds in protein.
This breakdown continues until the peptides are broken down into amino acids.
Once the peptides become amino acids they are small enough to be absorbed by the small intestine and than into the blood stream.
Where Did The 30 Grams Of Protein Myth Come From?
The 30 grams of protein myth originated from a study done years ago.
This study used both casein protein and whey protein to measure the absorption rate in the body.
What they found was that whey protein being a faster digesting protein took 4 hours to digest while casein a slower digesting protein took 7 hours to digest.
- Whey protein is better taken after a workout because of its faster absorption.
- Casein protein is better taken before bed as it absorbs more slower keeping the body in a longer state to build muscle.
The subjects in this study consumed these two variations of protein in the morning one fasted stomach.
Because of the results from this study people took into account that they needed to consume a protein source every 3 hours in order to keep their body in an anabolic state for building muscle.
What people failed to take into account was that consuming protein with food takes longer for the protein to be absorbed.
So consuming casein protein with a food source will extend the length of time it takes to digest and absorb the protein.
Casien protein already digests and absorbs at a rate of 7 hours so with food it is above 10 hours.
That’s a long time…
What Is The Truth Behind Protein Absorption?
The body is a smart mechanism and it only absorbs what is needs.
If you workout hard in the gym and break down muscle fibers than the body will need more protein to recover and grow.
Meal sizes play a role in how long protein absorption takes.
Small meals will gave a short digestion time.
While larger meals take longer for your body to digest and absorb.
A great example of this is:
Lets say you consume a meal that has a large steak and some white rice. Your body will slow down the digestion process so that it can absorb all of the nutrient from those two foods.
Some studies the support the example above are:
Two groups of people took part in a study and were given 54 grams of protein.
One group received the 54 grams in a single meal.
While the other group received the 54 grams of protein in several smaller meals.
The study concluded that after two weeks both groups had experienced the same results and nothing was different regarding absorption rate.
Another great study that completely puts the protein absorption myth to shame is intermittent fasting.
For those of you who don’t know what intermittent fasting is, in short it is eating your daily amount of nutrients or food in a small time window throughout the day.
The rest is fasted.
For the study taken on intermittent fasting:
Two groups were participated in this study.
One group consumed all of their protein in a small window while the other groups consumed it throughout the day.
The study concluded that again their was no difference.
Again this shows that changing when you eat protein does not change how much is absorbed.