Is it best to take a larger feeding of protein in one go, or for optimal results, should we take a small amount of protein (say a few grams) every 20-30 minutes?

Putting the practicality of such an approach aside, let’s look at the science on the subject.

After all, if it does yield superior results, it might be something you want to consider.

Sports scientists at McMaster University in Canada also wanted to find out [1].

They had 8 healthy male students train their legs and then administered proteins.

  • 1 group was given 1 dose containing 25g whey [BOLUS].
  • The other group was given a micro-shake of 2.5g of whey every 20 minutes [PULSE]. 10 doses were given over 3 hours (2.5g x 10 = 25g).

Amino acid levels in the students’ blood were measured, as well as muscle protein synthesis levels over the 3 hours.

BOLUS increased blood essential amino acid (EAA) concentrations above those of PULSE (162% compared with 53%) 60 minutes after exercise.

The PULSE group had a slower and more sustained increase over the 3 hours. The total EAA concentrations were roughly the same for both groups.

But what about muscle protein synthesis (MPS)?

MPS was elevated to a greater extent with BOLUS than with PULSE .

  • 1-3 hrs: 95% [BOLUS] compared with 42% [PULSE] and,
  • 3-5 hrs: 193% [BOLUS] compared with 121% [PULSE]

The researchers concluded:

“Rapid aminoacidemia [BOLUS] in the postexercise period enhances MPS and anabolic signaling to a greater extent than an identical amount of protein fed in small pulses that mimic a more slowly digested protein. A pronounced peak aminoacidemia after exercise enhances protein synthesis.”

Message: Stick to that large post-workout shake instead of the massively impractical plan of small feeds every 20 minutes.

You may also want to check out my other article How Much Protein Can The Body Absorb In 1 Sitting, to find out about even higher amounts of protein ingestion in 1 feeding.

Train With Intensity!

Mark

[1] Rapid aminoacidemia enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic intramuscular signaling responses after resistance exercise. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):795-803. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.013722. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

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