Protein intake to maximise muscle gain

How much and when should you consume protein to maximise your muscle gains? We explain it all!

1) Total protein intake

Your daily protein intake should be at least 1.6 g/kg/day, which is a reference value for improving protein synthesis.

If you are an elderly or trained person aiming for maximum muscle growth, you should aim for the upper range of 2.2 g/kg/day or more.

2) Breakfast 

It's true that at your first meal of the day, your capacity to absorb protein is generally higher. We therefore recommend a protein intake of 30 grams (depending on your size).

Even if the difference was not huge. One study showed that a high-protein breakfast group
gained more total lean body mass and had a greater percentage change in strength than the low protein breakfast group. 

(30 grams of protein for the high-protein group)

(20 grams of protein for the low protein group)

3) Spreading your protein intake over the day

Avoiding unbalanced protein distribution such as 0.1 g/kg, 0.4 g/kg, 0.6 g/kg, 0.5 g/kg per meal is crucial.

To determine your protein requirements per meal, divide your total daily protein intake by the number of meals. For example, if your target is 1.6 g/kg/day, you could aim for 0.4 g/kg/meal over four meals or 0.32 g/kg/meal over five meals. 

For most individuals, 0.4 g/kg/meal is sufficient to optimise adaptations to resistance training. However, older or trained individuals may benefit from a slightly higher intake of around 0.5 to 0.6 g/kg/meal. 


4) Anabolic window  

True or false? You've probably heard all about the famous post-training snack.

Answer: It depends! Do you train on an empty stomach? When was your last protein meal? How long have you been training?

If you're training on an empty stomach or if you haven't taken protein for more than 3 hours before your training session, it's recommended that you eat a high-protein snack or meal within an hour. 

5) Protein before bed 

We advise you to have a protein-rich snack before bedtime to help maximise your protein synthesis during this long period without nutrient intake.

A study shows thatngesting protein before sleep increased myofibrillar protein synthesis by 28 % and mitochondrial protein synthesis by 30 %, compared with placebo.

There was no difference between the ingestion of whey or casein protein before sleep in terms of increased myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis, even though whey induced higher plasma levels of leucine.

Plasma amino acid levels were higher 60 to 90 minutes after ingestion of whey protein compared with casein protein. On the other hand, amino acid levels on awakening were higher after ingestion of casein protein.

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