Friday, January 31, 2014

It Does Matter How You Spread Your Protein Intake - 30% Higher 24h Protein Synthesis with 30g+ Protein per Meal

Today's SuppVersity News will provide you with "confirmation" rather than "innovation", I suppose
With my recent article on the non-existance of protein-related osteoporosis (read more) and the short news post about the unique satiating effects of protein snacks (read more), there's been quite some protein lovin' here at the SuppVersity as of late. Usually, I would try to avoid having yet another "protein article" in the same week, but for the most recent study on "Dietary Protein Distribution", I will make an exception and I bet, you won't mind! Why? Well, what about what follows the "Dietary Protein Distribution" in the title of said paper?

"...Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults"

By now, you may feel reminded of a recent review by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld (Aragon. 2013), the results of which (learn more) are not refuted by the results of the study at hand.
Avoid protein wasting post workout.
Why do I even mention the Aragon + Schoenfeld study? The reason is that I already read how people were going on about how this "stupid review" got it all wrong on Facebook. And though I know that SuppVersity readers are not as ignorant as the average gymbro (watch what I am talking about, here) I wanted to make sure that (a) this study is not about the post-workout anabolic window Aragon & Schoenfeld wrote about and that (b) the tow actually argued that spreading your protein intake across the day instead of placing it in the "anabolic window", should yield superior results.
What the study does tell us, is simple: "The consumption of a moderate amount of protein at each meal stimulated 24-h muscle protein synthesis more effectively than skewing protein intake toward the evening meal." (Mamerow. 2014)

In other words: Don't cram all your protein into one meal!

I guess in view of past articles on related topics (e.g. "2x40g, 4x20g or 8x10g of Whey? Which Feeding Strategy Yields the Greatest Net Protein Retention?" | read more; or "Protein Timing Reloaded: A Reminder on the Importance of Repeated 20g Pulses for Optimal Protein Synthesis" | read more), this insight is not really going to surprise you.
Figure 1: Fractional protein synthesis at breakfast (left), when the difference was most pronounced (+30%) and rel. calculated 24h fractional protein synthesis (right) with EVEN vs. SKEWED protein distribution (Mamerow. 2014)
What may surprise you, though is the simple fact that this study, which was a joint venture of scienfitsts from the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, and Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana (Mamerow. 2014) is the first study to conclusively show that spreading a relatively high protein intake (1.2g/kg body weight) across the day is superior to the large steak the average intermittent faster may be washing down with a triple protein shake in the evening.

With an average age of 37 years the 8 healthy, normal-weight adult men and women who participated in the study at hand were neither rodents, nor elderly individuals, and - contrary to what you may expect if you look at the italicized names of the Institutions the scientists who were involved in this study are working at - they were not in need of rehabilitation after an injury - they were average Joes (n = 5) and Janes (n= 3).

This is not about rodents, elderly people or injured athletes

As you can see in the overview in Table 1, the subjects consumed three square meals, i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner in the course of the 7-day study period. The previous reference to intermittent fasting is thus obsolete - eating a minimal amount of protein in the morning and at noon is after all very different from eating nothing at all. 

Table 1: Seven-day mean energy and macronutrient intake in healthy adults consuming diets with an EVEN or SKEW protein distribution (Mamerow. 2014)
As the scientists point out, the total 24-h protein, carbohydrate, and fat consumption in the SKEW and EVEN conditions was not different.
"Both diets exceeded the RDA for protein [0.8 g/(kg d)] by ~50%. The SKEW diet met the RDA for protein during the evening meal alone. In all versions of the EVEN and SKEW menus used in this study, the animal-to-vegetable protein ratio was ~2:1." (Mamerow. 2014)
By using a 7-d crossover feeding design with a 30-d washout period, the scientists were thus able to measure the influence of protein timing, on the changes in muscle protein synthesis.

The latter was measured thrice, i.e. after each of the three meals, and used to calculate the twenty-four-hour mixed muscle protein fractional synthesis rates on days 1 and 7 after the ingestion of EVEN-ly or SKEW-edly distributed protein diets.
"Fat Loss Principles That Work: 10g+ of EAA W/ Every Meal" | read more
Bottom line: You have already seen the outcome of the three FSR measurement in Figure 1 and there is actually not much to add to what you're seeing there already.

In view of the fact that I gather that you'd expected a result like this, I don't feel inclined to repeat that I have been suggesting for years to consume 30g+ of quality protein ("quality" = 10g+ of EAAs per 30g serving) with every meal.

If you stick to this simple principle, it's going to help you build muscle and lose fat (see "Fat Loss Principles That Work: 10g+ of EAA W/ Every Meal" | read more).
  • Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. "Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 5.
  • Mamerow, Madonna M., et al. "Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults". J. Nutr. January 29, 2014 jn.113.185280 [ahead of print].