When it comes to building muscle mass, we all know the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of protein in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and prompt protein synthesis; but did you know that over-consuming protein with each meal won’t help to build more muscle mass?

According to researchers, consuming more than 45g of protein per meal does not produce better results than consuming 30-45g of protein per meal. With that said, the researchers do state that consuming more frequent meals with 30-45g of protein will boost lean muscle gains.

For their study, researchers utilised data that had been gathered for the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES]. The survey was conducted on 1081 healthy adults ranging from 50 to 85 years of age.

From the survey the researchers could ascertain each participant’s diet, number of meals per day, and the amount of protein they consumed. The survey also showed the amount of strength the participants were capable of developing on the leg-extension machine and the amount of muscle mass the participants had in their upper legs. What the researchers found in their analysis of the survey was that there was a relationship of protein intake and the number of meals to muscle mass and strength gains. What they noticed was that the participants who only consumed protein at one meal in the day showed optimal muscle mass and strength at an intake of 30g protein per meal. The participants who consumed protein at two meals each day had more muscle mass and strength than the single meal group. Their optimal muscle mass and strength was at an intake of 45 g protein per meal. Unfortunately, the researchers were unable to work out the effect of eating three meals a day containing 30-45 g protein from the data they had.

The researchers concluded, “Currently, the recommended daily amount for protein makes no recommendation on the per-meal distribution of dietary protein throughout the day. We propose that in a national sample of U.S. adults eating protein more frequently within the day may be an important strategy for increasing and/or maintaining lean body mass and muscle strength.”

“Further, a threshold of 30-45g of dietary protein per meal seems to produce the greatest association with lean body mass and strength when consuming more than one meal at that specific intake.”

“Consuming dietary protein at more than one meal may be of importance for individuals seeking to optimize muscle mass and strength, but may also be a particularly important strategy among individuals vulnerable to muscle mass loss including older adults and obese individuals undergoing energy-restricted diets.”

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