It’s another protein-related question we get asked a lot here at Neat: how much protein can your body really absorb at one time?
There is a lot of speculation that we can only process a certain amount of protein per meal, but in reality, there is no magic number and your body doesn’t suddenly stop digesting when it reaches its optimal level. If you eat more than 30g of protein, you’ll still digest it, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better protein synthesis.
When it comes to post-workout nutrition: “Research suggests 20g of protein taken within two hours after exercise is the most effective amount for optimal recovery (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009). 'And ideally you want that in a 1:2 ratio of protein to quality carbs to replenish energy, decrease protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis as your muscles start to break down,' says London-based GP Dr Nick Ambatzis, who specialises in sport and exercise medicine”.
As always, it’s all about balance, and just because your body can digest it, doesn’t mean you need to be consuming extremely high levels of protein in one sitting. Remember, once you turn on protein synthesis, it’s already on - you can’t turn it on more! Protein is important, but so are other macro and micronutrients – don’t forget about all the vital nutrients found in veggies, fruits and whole grains that help to support your overall health, as well as muscle recovery and weight loss.
What works for one person might not work for another, but we recommend eating about 20-35g of protein at regular intervals throughout the day, ideally making sure one of these meals is post-workout. By focusing on your intake over the course of the day, you’ll still be getting more than enough protein to build muscle and recover well, but you won’t need to eat steak after steak as you try to cram in 50+ grams in one meal!