How much & how often?

by Adam Ridler

So how much protein should we be eating and when?

Over the last few decades protein ingestion has been widely investigated, and for those who train regularly it is generally agreed that eating approximately 1.2g – 1.8g of protein per kilo of body weight is the way to go (check out the Nibble protein calculator).

But research is now showing that when you eat protein is almost as important as how much you consume. Evenly distributing protein intake throughout the day has been found to be optimal, instead of eating most of your protein in one meal (like dinner). This is largely down to the speed in which your body can metabolise protein because it can only process so much protein in a single sitting (and our bodies can’t store it for later use). A study by the University of Texas discovered that eating over 90g of protein at one meal provided the same benefit as eating just 30g of protein. Another study, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Sport, similarly found that protein synthesis and breakdown is higher when consumed in small amounts as compared to when eaten in larger amounts (over 20g). It found that individuals would benefit from eating moderate amounts of protein (up to 20g) at regular intervals (every 3 hours). Experts suggest you should aim to get around 20g of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, while opting for snacks that are 5-10g of protein.

No problem, right? Well, a recent study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism , found that even top athletes with expert nutritional advice struggle to spread their protein ingestion through out the day. The study followed well-trained Dutch athletes and discovered that 58% failed to consume 20g at breakfast, 36% failed at lunchtime and 8% at dinnertime.

by Adam Ridler
Chief Exercise Officer at Seven Stones, promoter of physical activity and fully addicted rower.

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