Friday, February 19, 2010

Curb my protein enthusiasm: single factor thinking fails again

Yesterday i wrote a piece reviewing an article that showed that 30g of whole protein was all that could be synthesized by resting muscle, so we can all just chill about how much protein we take in at a feeding. And indeed, there's one more reason to spread out one's protein intake over the course of a day. One more reason (not the only reason) Mutliple feedings rock!

I have just finished revising that article to be far more restrained in its celebration. I think it's a much better/fairer piece now, anyway. Dam it. Because now while more accurate, it's far less conclusive.

This revision fervour first started with some interesting conflations i was hearing between absorption and synthesis - how are these related, and conflations between some folks saying one MUST take on 30g of protein every few hours vs what the article suggested - that's the MAX one could utilize - if one is 80kg or thereabouts, not what one *should* take on. Minimums aren't established; only maxs. And only for acute uptake. With the interesting finding that this result seems age and gender independent.

Then i went back to my minute with Mike about the Protein Window and how that doesn't really close in a day - so why would protein only be usable to that max amount in that 3hr window of the study?

Then i checked a few references looking at lean mass over time with one meal vs three meals (no grazing just 1 or 3), and lean muscle maintenance (see revised post for the details)

And then to cap it all off Chris Highcock of conditioning research kindly pointed me at Eat STop Eat Brad Pilons How Much Protein, and well, what's the take away if you don't feel like going back to look at the study (where all the refs to the following points are):
  • Acute responses to muscle protein synthesis are not necessarily the same as lean mass maintenance or growth over time
  • If one's thinking mass building thoughts the exercise and creatine may be more critical than protein
  • Protein timing may not be an issue for muscle mass. The pluses of nutrient timing may be elsewhere found - like glucose and other hormone regulation/performance.

What *is* reinforced in the related work with the study presented is that more likely than not LESS is more - whether at rest or working out. That the 70-120 g range may be just as productive at mass building as any higher amounts, and that if one goes for higher protein amounts (like 160 grams if 80kg), while one's system can safely absorb that, it mayn't be using it for muscle building.

Once again, single factor thinking dun't work - well. Creatine in the mix does. Precision Nutrition (very multi-factor) does; Chris Highcock does. Mike T. Nelson does. Georgie Fear does and so it seems does Brad Pilon. and i'd like to, too, though it may take me a few tries.


Mike T Nelson said...

We need to keep in mind that while more than 20-30 gram of protein for a synthetic response may not be beneficial, it does not appear to be harmful!

Yes, it may be oxidized, but the body is designed to handle it.

While there are not tons of studies on high amounts of protein in athletes, it does not appear to be harmful.

Rock on
Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

dr. m.c. said...

yup totally agreed Mike: not considered harmful - until getting about at least in normals the 2.5g/kg. As you say, athletes may be higher.

i'm intrigued by the protein not being the big Masser but creatine perhaps is - i guess that makes a certain ancesteral sense if we were meat eaters

that and big mass is not really efficient from a survival point - so why would big bouts of a natural element make us "huge" ?? nope.

thanks for stopping by



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