|Image 1: There could be a reason that your favorite protein powder comes with a scoop and a suggested serving size of 25-30g protein (max.)|
"Only 1.2 - 1.6 protein per kg/day!?" - Calm down! The total amount is not all that counts
According to the latest installment of the "A to Z of Nutritional Supplements" series in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (the part on protein was - you may already have guessed it - co-authored by no one else but Stuart Phillips) the "current scientific evidence" suggests that
- daily intakes higher than the RDA, to be precise, 1.2-1.6g/kg body weight,
- an emphasis on leucine-rich protein sources (I suggest dairy, alternatively pea protein),
- multiple servings of 20-25g of protein / protein-rich foods spread equally across the day,
- an additional protein shake immediately after your workout
Quality, Consistency and frequency over gluttony
For an 80kg athlete this would translate into a total protein intake of 96-128g of protein per day. Sounds pretty sparse, right? Well, if we just count proteins from meats, eggs, fish, dairy and dietary supplements and discard the protein from other sources, this would leave our 80kg athlete with max. 4-5 meals at which he would easily achieve the "threshold" limit of 25g; five opportunities to monetize on the dietary induced increase in protein synthesis; and five potentially protein anabolic spikes in plasma amino acid concentrations.
Remember: In the slowly abating hoopla around leucine people tend to overlook that despite its ability to set the protein synthetic machinery into gear, leucine needs the other EAAs and conditionally essential amino acids to get its muscle building job done.And though the actual data does not provide any revolutionary new insights into the "ideal" amount of protein, a recently published study from Kevin D. Tiptons group at the University of Birmingham provides further evidence that everyone who strives to maximize skeletal muscle protein synthesis should be primarily concerned about the consistent and frequent (3) ingestion of quality (2) protein (Jackman. 2012).
|Figure 1: Urea production (µmol/h/kg * 4h) and fractional myofibrillar protein synthesis (per hour) in the 4-hour recovery period after an intense leg workout and supplementation with either 20g or 40g of whey protein (data based on Jackman. 2012)|
Diminishing returns with large vs. multiple bolus ingestions
Contrary to previous studies investigating the differential response to different amounts of dietary protein in the vicinity of a strength workout (cf. "Protein Synthesis Beyond the 20g Limit"), in which the subjects often trained in a fasted state, the Jackman study also confirms that the profound beneficial effects of immediate protein supplementation are retained, even if the last "protein rich meal" was consumed "only" 3h before the workout.
|Figure 2: Experimental protocol of the Jackman study (based on Jackman. 2012)|
|Image 2: The results Adelfo saw from the consistent intake of a perfectly timed mixture of fast and slow digesting proteins speak for themselves - intermittent fasting or not, consistency and frequency are key!|