‘’We can only absorb 30g of protein per sitting.’’
Where has this claim originated from?
This has been something that has circulated the health and fitness word for years now and has become somewhat a part of gym folklore. The amount we normally hear is that the body cannot absorb more than 30g of protein at a time. The claims have originated from the fact that for us to maximise muscle protein synthesis (the process of building new muscle tissue) a dose of protein around 20-40g is required in a single sitting.
Is it true?
Simply put, no. Just because 20-40g of protein seems to be the maximum amount used by our muscle at a given time it does not mean this is the maximum amount we can absorb. In fact we know we have pretty much an unlimited capacity to store amino acids from the protein we consume. Dependent on the protein source you are consuming, you will likely absorb almost all the protein you ingest. As an example meat has a protein digestibility percentage of around 94%, so if you consume 200g chicken breast (roughly containing 54g of protein), you will pretty much absorb all that protein. Your body likes to adapt to stresses and is pretty good at doing so, it can cope with far more protein than the 30g quoted. All your body is going to do is adapt by slowing down the digestion process during larger feeds.
Is the protein not used by our muscle therefore stored as fat?
It’s simply not that black and white. Unlike carbohydrates and fat that are mainly used for energy, protein has a predominant role in a whole host of structures in our body including muscle, bone, organs, cells and enzyme function to name a few. So unlike carbohydrates and fat that can be stored in abundence, your body will tend to use the protein you ingest to support these structures. Now that’s not to say protein cannot be stored as fat but it’s an extensive and costly process to the body. All in all, it’s not something you need to be concerned about.
Is consuming 30g of protein per sitting therefore bad advice?
No, not at all. I myself feel 20-40g per meal over around 3-6 meals is a good dietary habit to introduce. This will not only help in achieving your goal of 1.6-2.2g per kg of bodyweight a day, it should also help with keeping hunger to a minimum, due to how filling protein is.
In summary, 30g of protein is not the maximum amount we can absorb in one sitting. Moreover, consuming more than 30g will not result in that additional protein being instantly stored as fat in the absence of calorie over consumption.
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