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How much protein can your body actually use in one sitting? Is there an upper limit to muscle protein synthesis? Does protein timing really matter? 

If you’re serious about gaining muscle, you’ve likely asked these questions and many more like them.

To help answer these questions, I interviewed Dr. Stuart Phillips, a world-renowned protein researcher who has published more than 450 peer-reviewed articles. He’s a bonafide protein metabolism expert.

In this episode, we discuss the findings of a recent groundbreaking study that challenged the common belief that there’s a limit to how much protein your body can use in one meal.

Dr. Phillips breaks down the study’s surprising results and shares his insights on optimal protein intake for muscle growth. He also delves into other fascinating topics like the role of protein as you age, the anabolic window, and the “first meal effect.”

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or simply looking to optimize your fitness, this episode will provide you with cutting-edge and practical information to help you reach your goals.

In this podcast, you’ll learn about . . .

  • The upper limit of protein absorption in a single meal and the effects of consuming a massive dose of protein
  • Protein timing and the duration of the “anabolic window” post-workout
  • Why protein overfeeding might not be the answer to enhanced muscle gain
  • The potential differences between protein supplements and whole-food protein sources
  • How aging affects muscle protein synthesis and anabolic resistance
  • Protein quality and its role in overall health and muscle development.
  • Practical strategies to optimize your daily protein intake
  • The role of exercise versus nutrition in muscle growth and health
  • And more . . .

So, click play and get evidence-based recommendations for optimizing your protein intake for health, longevity, and muscle gain.


(0:00) Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!

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(8:14) How much protein can your body absorb and use in one meal?

(13:10) How do results compare when splitting up 100g of protein into smaller doses?

(17:32) Are multiple protein feedings throughout the day superior for muscle gain?

(21:40) Could consuming mixed meals with whole foods affect protein absorption differently than supplements?

(24:40) What novel insights did this study provide about muscle protein synthesis?

(28:06) Is the muscle-building response to protein impacted by workout timing or training in general?

(29:32) Please share the podcast with a friend!

(30:08) Is there an “anabolic window” where your body is more responsive to protein post-workout?

(32:14) Should you increase your protein intake on days you train?

(35:15) Is there a benefit to consuming a massive amount of protein post-workout?

(38:58) How does the muscle-building response to protein change as you age?

(41:50) Should you eat more protein as you get older?

(44:04) Why is it important to start your day with a high-protein meal?

(46:52) What is the “first meal effect” and its significance?

(48:24) Is “protein quality” a concern for muscle growth?


Mentioned on the Show:

The study:

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Stuart Phillips’s Instagram

Stuart Phillips’s Twitter

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Stu: They had conditions where they gave people no protein, 25 grams of protein or a hundred grams of protein, which is an, you know, pretty substantial amount of protein. And they found that actually the hundred gram response was higher in terms of what it did for muscle than the 25 gram response. And it was sustained over a very long period of time.

So You know, that sort of bucks the answer that we would have given, I would have given prior to that paper.

Mike: Hello there and welcome to Muscle for Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode on the topic of protein intake. And this is a perennial topic, one that will probably always be a matter of curiosity and contention in the 10 years or so that I’ve been in the fitness industry.

I’ve been regularly asked the same handful of questions all the way up until today, like how much protein should I be eating to maximize muscle growth? Is it 0. 8 grams per pound of body weight per day? Is it 1 gram? Is it more than 1 gram? How much protein can the body digest and absorb? In one sitting, and if you eat more than that, is the excess protein disposed of, or is it stored for later use, or does something else happen?

Is there an upper limit on muscle protein synthesis? Maybe the limit is not digestion and absorption, but it is the rate at which the body’s muscle building machinery can work. And does a certain amount of protein maximally stimulate that? And if you eat more protein than that amount, is the excess again disposed of, stored, something else?

Protein timing, that’s another common question. Does it really matter when you eat protein? How often you eat protein, how you break up your total daily protein intake into separate meals. For example, can you eat just one or two large servings of protein every day and gain just as much muscle and strength as five smaller servings throughout the day? Well, in today’s episode, we are going to explore those questions and get evidence based answers, and you are going to be hearing mostly from my guest, Dr. Stuart Phillips, who is a world renowned protein researcher with more than 450 published peer review articles. Dr. Phillips really is a bonafide protein metabolism guru. And in this episode he is going to talk about how much protein your body can use in one meal. He’s going to comment specifically on a new study that a lot of people have been talking about that is challenging the common belief that there is a limit to how much protein your body can use in one meal.

And then Dr. Phillips is going to talk about the role of protein as you age, he talks about the anabolic window, the first meal effect, and more.

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Hey, Stu, it’s nice to meet you.

Stu: Thanks for having me on the show, Mike. I appreciate it.

Mike: Absolutely. Thank you for taking the time to, to talk to us about protein metabolism, which sounds maybe a little bit boring to some listeners, but it’s going to be informative and it’s going to be practical and just to tee it up.

So most of the listeners, they know that it’s important to eat a fair amount of protein, to eat a high protein diet to maximize muscle and strength gain, or even just to support. Body composition. They understand that. And most people listening probably understand that the most important factor in protein intake is just total protein intake.

They know that first and foremost, you just have to make sure you eat enough every day. On average, you can have some days higher, some days lower, but on average, eat enough regardless of how you get there and you’re going to do fine. However, many people. Ask things like, well, I heard that you can only absorb so much protein in one meal.

I remember, I mean, 10 years ago when I got into the fitness racket that was a matter of controversy then, and it still is now. And from what I’ve seen, the discussion has, so I remember about 10 years ago, a lot of people thought seemed to be kind of generally accepted that you can’t absorb more than sometimes the number was as low as 20.

Sometimes it was as high as 50 grams of protein in a meal. And so therefore, if you eat more than that in one meal, it’s just going to be turned into glucose and it’s just going to be eliminated. That’s it. And then it seemed to shift maybe after a couple of years of the evidence based fitness space gaining traction there was a shift to, well, you can absorb more than that.

We don’t really know how much. So don’t worry about it too much. And then more recently, and now I’m going to shut up. What I’ve seen is that it’s maybe more generally acknowledged that absorption limits are high. Don’t even worry about that. However, if you want to optimize your results and that’s a word that is kind of fuzzy.

It’s vague but if you want to optimize your results, it’s best to eat four to five servings of about the same amount of protein, call it 30 to 50 grams of protein throughout the day, spaced out by a few hours. And there are different reasons for that. And I’ve even. I’ve told people that based on my understanding of different literature.

And so I just wanted to give that as some context for this discussion, because I know that’s where a lot of listeners are at. Sure. So I’m going to pass the torch.

Stu: Sure. Yeah. So I mean, I think, you know, you’ve given it there’s that kind of the brief history of protein, probably not as brief, maybe that’s about 15.

Years worth of understanding. I think there’s a few points that sort of hit on first to your point around how much can we absorb. And that was the question a lot of people asked with maybe the misunderstanding that you can absorb a lot of protein and by a lot, you know, hundreds of grams. That’s really not the rate limiting step in any of this, particularly if you’re young and healthy.

The key question is how much can your body use of what you absorb? And I think that’s the 20 to 30 grams, you know, that per meal. And a lot of that comes from work that, that our lab has done and others. Kind of showing that the response of, say, protein synthesis and muscle, which is, you know, the making of new muscle plateaus at a certain point.

It’s what we call dose saturable or whatever. And so then people were like, well, you can only digest it. I’m like no, back up. You can digest a lot. It’s how much you can use. And that’s obviously a nuanced answer to, you know, the point that the GERD people could probably store more and use more protein than smaller people.

So it’s not an absolute amount. I mean, every protein requirement we always give is divided by per kilogram of body weight. Or per pound of body weight. Let’s just say you know, with regards to your statement, yeah, I agree. Daily protein intake is the number one variable. Twice the RDA, so 1.

6 grams per kilo or about 0. 7 grams per pound. Yeah, you’re going to get a lot of the benefit that’s definitely, you know, a lot more than the minimum, which is the RDA or a 0. 8 or about 0. 3 grams per pound. And that’s number one. And the subtlety is, you know, how much should I sit down and eat a meal?

And I’d have been one of the people that would have told you, just like you said you know, 30 grams, maybe 40 each meal, first meal of the day, pretty important, second meal of the day, probably okay last meal of the day, depending on how close it is to bedtime, maybe that’s a pretty big meal as well.

And you can probably squeeze in one more, I call it feeding occasion. So let’s say, you know, a snack, mid afternoon snack, late night snack, something like that. And then there was things like, you know, maybe eat something closer to the time you go to bed. And then you know, things changed quite drastically recently with that, you know, it was a good friend of mine Jorn Trommelin.

I was actually Jorn’s external examiner for his PhD. So I guess I’m partially responsible for unleashing him on the world. He he works with a good friend of mine, Luke Van Loon over in the Netherlands. And he just published a study that I think caused a lot of people to go, Oh, hold on. This is different than we, we’ve heard and we’ve understood.

You know, without, you know, diving too deep into the details, let’s just say that they had conditions where they gave people no protein, 25 grams of protein, or 100 grams of protein, which is a pretty substantial amount of protein. And they found that actually the 100 gram response was higher in terms of what it did for muscle than the 25 gram response.

And it was sustained over a very long period of time. You know, that sort of bucks the I guess, answer that we would have given, I would have given prior to that paper that it’s kind of capped at around 25, 30 grams and that you can definitely digest, takes a long time, longer and use more protein.

Mike: I would love to get into some of the details of this paper that I think will help people Understand what you just said it and put it into context of other things, especially people who spend a bit of time doing desk research themselves. They’re probably thinking to some of the research we’ve alluded to some of the research on intermittent fasting that has indicated that yes, you can absolutely gain muscle and strength.

If you restrict yourself to just maybe two feedings of protein per day but if you’re trying to maximize muscle and strength gain, so let’s say you’re a natural weightlifter, you’re an experienced weightlifter, it’s already hard enough to gain muscle and strength as it is, and you’re trying to gain every little edge you can, that IF is probably not going to be the best choice for you that more frequent feedings.

And in this study, so we had this hundred gram feeding of protein. How did those results compare? It’s probably not surprising in some respects that it beat out 25 grams, but you mentioned that it takes longer to digest. So are we looking at a cumulative effect over time and what are your thoughts on how that might compare to taking that hundred grams of protein and splitting it up into a few different feedings?

Stu: Yeah, I mean, so first I think the biggest thing is that paper, one takeaway is that we can digest a hundred grams. So to the point of, you know, you can digest a lot, that’s a pretty big I think thing that people go, Oh wow, I never knew, you know, but that’s, we knew that for some time.

So the digestion is not an issue. It does take longer. Definitely the smaller dose is eat much more easily digested. I need to be clear on a couple of things. It’s not real food. It was just milk protein. So it’s a contrived sort of, you know, circumstance, but, you know, we’ll gloss over that for now.

Let’s just say that you know, dividing it up would have been how I would recommend things. And, you know, but when you divide the doses, still the hundred grams begins to come out on top. The differences are small, I would call them. And I definitely think what people need to take away is that, you know, the primary driver of, you know, accumulating new muscle is definitely the weightlifting.

That’s, let’s be clear on that. And the protein is the glaze on the cake, or the icing on the cake, or the sprinkles on the icing, I’m not really sure what, but it adds, I’ll call it the finishing touch, if you like. From that standpoint then it really does appear, to your point, that this sort of intermittent fasting, or OMAD, like one meal a day type eating, is not as, I’ll call it, you know, detrimental for your gains as we once thought.

And I would have been one person who would have said, you know, if you had to pick I’m not opposed to intermittent fasting, if that’s your thing, and definitely very good for body composition. I just said I, but I don’t know that it’s the right way to optimize muscle mass gains. This paper has changed my mind on that.

And I think that, you know, a lot of people go, Oh, you were wrong. And I was like, I’ve been wrong a lot in my career as a scientist, but that’s how science works, right? You have a theory and you have some data until something comes along and supersedes it.

Mike: Let lest you turn into David Lustig or other people.

Stu: Well, you or other people.

Yeah. No, it’s a good example, but I said it not yet. Yeah. Yeah. No fair. But yeah, that’s like dogmatic belief is fine. But in the face of evidence to the contrary. You can’t, I don’t think anyway, call yourself a scientist and say, I just don’t believe that. I’m like, you know what? You know, you just have to and to try and integrate it.

You know, I think that there’s a one big lesson that came and it’s that, you know, this sort of meal timing that I’ve talked about, and lots of others have talked about throughout the day. It’s probably less important than we once said for, you know, conditioning and gaining muscle. It’s a short term study.

It was a study that’s done over hours, like basically a day. Not the sort of time frame that it takes to gain muscle. So that’s where I say to people, incest amazing study. I don’t know that there’s another lab in the world that could pull this off, and they, these guys did it. Just take it for what it is.

It’s a, it’s an acute response, which, you know, we’ve done lots of as well. So I’m not dismissing it, but take it for what it is. It’s, There’s sometimes a disconnect between that type of study and what actually happens to muscle in the long run. But I’m one that’s a little bit more comfortable saying that people say, Oh, I eat one meal a day.

That’s what I do. And I’m like, okay, you know, and to your point empirically, we know that those people can get stronger. They can gain muscle. They can certainly they get very lean if they’re adhering to it. So yeah that’s the good news, but take away from that study for sure.

Mike: And so if I’m hearing you correctly this study may not overturn the, it’s a small body of evidence, but it still is a body of evidence, nonetheless, that does suggest that or at least that has supported it. The position that multiple feedings throughout the day is probably best for optimizing muscle and strength gain it.

Am I? Am I right? Or not? Or are you even rethinking you know, actually? Maybe that’s not the case and if that’s the case, I’d love to hear maybe just some of your thoughts as to why that has been suggested that there are there is evidence to support that in at least there are a handful of papers I can think of that I read that, you know, seem to make a good case for that.

Stu: Yeah, well, I mean, a lot of it to do with the protein is that I mean, you know, everything has evolved. If you’re a fish or a bird or a mammal, you always have a mechanism to take nitrogen off of an amino acid and turn it into something. If you’re a fish, you make ammonia, you make uric acid. If you’re a bird and we make urea and every, you know, organism has a mechanism for that.

So we’ve always said you’ve got to use the amino acids, the protein when it’s ingested. Or it’s useless or used less. And I, you know, I would still think that’s partially true anyway. But this, what this paper showed is that Even if you took a huge meal, so 100 grams of protein and again, it’s milk protein.

So it’s a little different than food an egg or meat or chicken or something like that. So we still don’t know the answer to the question if it’s a meal. But I would say that the. Small meals still fit within the scheme. I think what this adds is that it doesn’t need to be small meals.

It can be one big meal and there probably is far less of a difference between those than we once thought. So I’m not saying that the multiple feedings per day is bad or I don’t think it’s worse than, even though statistically in the study they showed it was slightly lower. I don’t think that those differences are overly meaningful.

But it’s, you know, maybe, so maybe you can worry less about, Oh, I, I missed my feed at this time. I didn’t have the, this. You know, can I make up for it at a subsequent meal and then I’m like, oh, I’m pressed for time. Actually I’ve really got this one meal that I’m going to make count and this paper would say, you know what, it’s probably far less of an issue than we once thought in that one meal is, it’s going to do the job.

Mike: Another practical use case here is vacation or if you’re traveling. And you’re not going to eat four to six, 20, 30 gram servings of protein per day. It’s not going to happen. No. And so if you can only get in, I mean, I’m 190 pounds. So if I could, if I mean, if it’s only a few days, if I could just get one meal of a hundred grams of protein, I mean, I’m fine for if I were to do that every day on average and train really hard and not quite optimal, but it’s nice to know.

That again, a vacation is another is just a perfect example where I tend to not eat much in the mornings and because I know there’s always going to be dinners and so maybe lunch is just that kind of protein meal. Get that out of the way so I can just enjoy dinner. And that’s feasible.

And that, as you said just in day to day living, we get busy and okay. You missed a meal. It’s not a big deal. Oh, you missed two meals. Even it’s not a big deal. You can make it up. But I wanted to ask about this food point. You’ve added that caveat a couple of times. People might be wondering why might that change things?

Why might a mixed meal, which is typically how people are eating most of their protein. Why might that produce a different outcome?

Stu: Yeah. So first I mean, I think the important point with saying about milk protein is milk is a mixture of two proteins, whey, which I think most people have heard of because it’s the supplement that they take and casein.

Casein is a slowly, what we call slowly digested protein. That is 80 percent of the milk protein that these guys fed in this study. And so it’s this sort of. And the classic is that whey gives up its amino acids fast and then it sort of slowly trickles off. Whereas casein is a slow digested protein and it’s, you know, just the amino acids appear slower.

I think that’s an important point, is that you’re eating 100 grams so 80 grams of that meal is a slow digested protein, that’s casein. Meals when you eat them and you have, you know, generally, let’s say a sandwich. So there’s two pieces of, you know, if you’re okay eating carbohydrates, it’s there’s two pieces of, I always have to, I never used to think about it that people go, I just don’t eat carbs.

So I’m like, okay, well. So we’re going to go with the traditional.

Mike: That’s a big life mistake, but okay.

Yeah, well, you know, it’s, I was like, whatever. I was like, well, we’re going to go with what we usually call a sandwich. So there’s two pieces of bread or maybe two pieces of lettuce. Yeah, not the lettuce or two patties and a chicken breast in the middle.

Stu: That’s not a sandwich. That’s just a triple decker in my big, you know, so two pieces of bread in the, you know, the meat in between. Those are also digested slowly, but the rates of appearance of the amino acids are sort of far less predictable. They sort of do this kind of thing and then they peak and they come down that’s what mixed meals look like.

And so that’s a different rate of appearance of the building blocks of muscle and other protein containing tissues, which could change the answer to the question. So I think that it’s just important to appreciate that. Still awesome research, but it’s milk protein. That’s a pretty specific type of protein.

And it may be a little bit different with meals. I have no reason to suspect that it’s wildly different. Sure. But I can’t give you the exact answer. In my heart of hearts, I want to say is that they’re probably not overly dissimilar. But and look, you know, a year or two from now I would fully expect that some of these questions might be answered. But you’ll have to stay tuned on that one.

Mike: At least some people listening probably have heard that your body’s muscle building machinery, so to speak, can only can, it only can work so to, so quickly, there’s only, it only has so much capacity for muscle protein synthesis. And they’ve probably heard that somewhere around and I know it might seem like I’m moving backward here but I’m not I’ll get to the new question.

They’ve probably heard that 50 ish grams or so seems to bring it to, you know, max RPMs, so to speak that, that appears to Elevate muscle protein synthesis rates as high as they’re going to go. And then they’ve probably also heard that muscle protein synthesis rates only remain elevated for so long in response to one feeding.

And so these are some of the points that kind of some of the building blocks of that argument for more frequent feedings. And so what in this study was revelatory in terms of that model, because for this study’s findings to be true, then there, there was something mechanistically that was missing or there was a misunderstanding of some kind.

Stu: Yeah. I think the biggest thing is that, you know, previously, and I think this is pretty well established that when you eat food, amino acids go up in your bloodstream and protein synthesis goes up, but then protein synthesis shuts off. And You know, to your point is that even in the face of sustained amino acids we just don’t continue to make more and more protein.

When you perform resistance exercise, your muscle is sensitized to the effects of protein being around. It just becomes much more sort of, I call it much more sponge like in sort of taking out protein. I think the biggest thing that this study shows is that actually that, that shut off mechanism is kind of removed.

It’s so that the response is still long lasting and in concordance then with elevated amino acids as well. So it doesn’t shut off. It just keeps going. I mean, one of the things that I do point out when I say to people they’re like, wow, so More and more protein begets more. And the title of the paper, which I think was a bit of an overstatement, there is no upper limit to anabolism, is incorrect.

I mean, It makes for good headlines. It’s great. It’s great headline. Yeah, absolutely. But I mean, if that were true, then eating more and more would make you more and bigger.

Mike: I wish. Yeah. We would just eat 500 grams of protein a day and we would cut our weightlifting in half and we would just, that’s all you gotta do.

Stu: Hook myself up to an intravenous feed and eat and just like I grow forever. And so clearly the mechanisms to be able to. deaminate amino acids and get rid of the stuff that you’re eating would upregulate or we’d die. But we just don’t keep putting on muscle add infinitum based on how much protein we eat.

That’s the, that, that’s the practical part of it. But that shut off mechanism in response to amino acids is clearly overridden by the exercise itself. So I think that’s an important message that came out of the paper for sure.

Mike: And for people wondering specifically, are you referring to post workout, which is also something I wanted to get to, so maybe that’s a good segue, or are you just referring to somebody who just generally resistance trains, or is this a, is this more of a timing thing?

Stu: Yeah, so one thing that we do know is that if you’re untrained, you’re fairly novice, you do a resistance bout, and that sort of, that big sensitization, that anabolic window, we call it, or people call it, is open for a long time, probably like a couple of days. The more trained you get, the window gets a little bit shorter.

It’s still, you know, if you’re doing a pretty intense resistance workout, it’s probably 12 hours or so. So it’s not, you don’t have to have the protein immediately post workout. So we say, you know, somewhere around the workout when you’ve got amino acids there your muscle’s going to make use of them. I still favor post exercise because I mean, personally, I’d just say that’s just it.

I mean, I’m much more receptive to drinking and having something in my stomach after than before. Yep. Same. So that, that’s the time when we talk about, you know, reconditioning and repairing and remodeling and all of the things that go along with protein. So I’ll just say it’s generic to sort of generally working out, but the post exercise period is what we’re talking here.

You know, elevated amino acids, proteins just keeps hammering on.

Mike: Hey there, if you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a

friend or a loved one or a not so loved one, even who might want to learn something new. Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. And just to point up this this anabolic window, which that concept used to imply that.

If you wait too long, the window closes and it’s too late. And of course that’s not true. But to your point, even in a, in an experienced weightlifter, you’re still, I think you said 12 hours or so you’re still looking at a 12 hour window where your body has a heightened response to. to protein.

And for, I mean, practically speaking that’s the entire day’s worth of protein. Probably if somebody’s training first thing in the morning, you know.

Stu: You would hope so. I mean, 12 hours is a long time. And it’s again, it’s sort of, you know, like I still see and it’s predominantly the guys with a shaker in the gym and it’s you know, slam at it.

And I’m not saying that’s a poor practice because that hurts BCAAs. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, it’s sort of like that’s water on top of a bucket of water, but whatever. Tasty water. What do you mean? Yeah, sure. Go for it. But the, you know, the bottom line to me is, you know, if you can’t, if you don’t have that, or if you’re like, gosh, I’ve got to do this.

I’ve got to run. Don’t sweat it. Like you’re still going to be able to make use of it. And I don’t know if it’s 12 hours. Like it could be 16. You know, but it’s not one or 30 minutes. It’s not like the window opens and then three hours later it’s like shut and you’ve done it. You’ve missed the opportunity, you know, that, that window is I got to find the right, I talk about this so much.

There’s a paper out there that some colleagues and friends of mine have written and they talk about the post exercise. Garage door like it’s wide, it’s long, you know, it’s big. And that’s probably a more apt analogy than the window that’s transiently open that shuts. That’s, it’s not how things are working.

Mike: And just just to make it clear for listeners, I haven’t heard anything that suggests that. Eating a large amount of protein after training most people, I mean, I think it just becomes kind of a habit where you’re going to, you’re going to probably eat a meal within a couple of hours of working out.

Typically, that’s how it is for most people that changing that from, let’s say currently that meal is 30 grams of protein, or maybe it’s 50 that making it 100 grams is not going to be better. Or worse, there’s, there isn’t a, there isn’t a particular reason it sounds like to rejigger your meal plan to provide a hundred grams of protein after training rather than maybe 30 and then a few hours later, another 30 and so forth.

Stu: Yeah I mean, you know, to be absolutely, you know, crystal clear on this point, within the paper itself, there was a statistically significantly greater anabolic response with the large meal. You know, I don’t want to dismiss statistical significance, which, you know, sometimes, you know, I live and die by.

The point again is to say that’s the acute effect. And I’m going to gloss over that and say that’s far less important than I need to get a hundred versus I’m going to do the multiple smaller meals, which I still think is fine. And yes, so to your, you know, the short answer to your question is it’s not an issue.

So if you want to eat like that, no problem, but certainly don’t go, oh, like this 30, 40 gram meal or whatever, that’s just useless now. I need to get a hundred. That, that’s, it’s not a good idea. Yeah. In my opinion, unless that’s what you want to do, because everybody goes, actually, I have no issues with that.

That’s what I do. You know, at least two or three days a week, and I get it, timing, convenience, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t think you’re giving anything up is the big deal in doing that. So that’s one thing that, you know, we, to come back to it is that we’ve learned from this study is this, that not to worry so much about, Oh, I’m like, I’m missing the opportunity.

I didn’t have my, you know, slam the protein shake, if that’s what you’ve got or get a big meal or, you know, and you’re going to be okay, like it’s still, you’re turning the gears and you’re getting the benefit back for sure.

Mike: Some people might diet hackers, maybe might think this makes me think of there was a trend of very low fat dieting with the thought of, well, the novel epigenesis it occurs.

You know, you have to eat so much carbohydrate really to gain fat. So why don’t I bring my dietary fat down to nothing and eat nothing but protein and carbs? And it didn’t work. And so some people might, I mean, I think it’s actually a valid question to ask. Say, okay so I train and I have a period of heightened sensitivity.

To protein and that off switch is jammed. There’s just, it’s just on basically. And so would it not be beneficial? So let’s say currently I train and then by the time that garage door closes, I’ve eaten my final, that’s my final hundred grams of protein for the day, or maybe it’s my final 75 or something like that.

Should I? Play around with my meal plan so I can eat a lot of protein in the let’s just even say in the six hours or maybe 10 hours that follows training. Should I try to eat 200 grams of protein or 300 grams of protein?

Stu: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: I could see somebody thinking like, wow, I mean, sir, if I’m just going to, if I can just maximize muscle proteins, this is my body doesn’t know how to stop.

What if I protein overfeed after I train?

Stu: Yeah. Well, I think one, one thing is like there, there’s, there probably is an upper limit to digestion. We may not have found it. Clearly, a hundred grams is I’ll just drink away. I’m gonna drink yeah. I’m just gonna hold the bottle.

At some point, I think you’re gonna find that doesn’t happen, is you can’t absorb it all. But let’s say you could. Like I said you know, practically speaking, you’ve only got so much muscle. And if, even if the off switch is jammed and it’s I’m just gonna keep making. You keep doing that, your body will upregulate all of the systems to to make urea to oxidize amino acids.

Again, it’s just, it’s an impossible scenario to sustain. What happens, and we’ve known this for probably about 60 years, is that in some pretty well done experiments to say, if you gave people big meals, then on the other side when they weren’t eating, they went into a big catabolic state. They basically compensated on the other side.

Then people say, Oh, I just keep eating. And so that was the sort of, that’s where the BCAs come in. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You just never stop. Right. Then all you do is that everything that disposes of amino acids, all of those mechanisms get massively upregulated and then you’re just you’re a metabolic burner and disposer of amino acids par excellence, or, you know, you’d run into health issues.

L let’s just say that. You can try it. I doubt that it’ll give you more than what you’re getting. And to take people back to, I like to use the bake the cake analogy, right? Listing the weights and doing it regularly bakes the cake. You wanna ice the cake, that’s the protein. You could put a thick layer of icing on when you’re a novice.

And the more trained you get, the icing gets thinner. So just remember where we’re playing when we’re talking about some of these variables. Is that people believe it’s an unlock to, to, to muscle gains beyond. And I’m like, ah, that’s, you’re doing that by lifting the weights. The protein is the glaze on top or the cream on the glaze or something like that.

It’s not that, it’s not the be all and end all. Going to the gym, doing it regularly. caloric surplus, probably if you want to gain and then the protein and then all of the other nuances are underneath that. And when I say protein, I mean like daily protein intake.

Mike: Absolutely. Does any of this change any of the stuff we’ve been discussing with age as we get older?

Stu: Yeah. Yeah. Well, as I’ve gotten older, I could tell you no personally, but yes, probably it does. You know, it’s one thing that we know as you get older, the capacity to. B anabolic is diminished. We call it anabolic resistance. Share some parallels, I’m sure, with insulin resistance. You just don’t you’re not as sensitive to the stimulus of insulin.

In this case, you’re not as sensitive to the stimulus of lifting weights, for starters. Protein number two. And then the two combined, you just don’t do as great a job as you did when you were in the younger version of you everybody wants to know where it starts. I’d like to be able to tell you it starts at around age 57.

That’s just a personal observation, but I have no idea. I don’t do as much, I don’t lift as heavy. 20. So maybe that’s probably part of it. because it hurts. You know, all bets are off when we talk about aging, but you know, the dial eventually is getting turned down and the only thing you can do is to choose to age sort of in this slow gradual fashion as opposed to this and weightlifting, resistance exercise, any higher, Protein diet are the two, I think two key parts of trying to sustain that, but yeah, you’re never going to get back and look, be able to do all the things you, you did in your twenties.

Right. I got, I just. Ridiculous amount of time in the gym. I was in my twenties.

Mike: What

Stu: else? What else was going to do? I don’t know. I don’t know. And you thought when you did it, you were like, I’m busy. And I’m like, Mike, hell yeah. But yeah. So you’ve been in the gym for three hours. I know. If I had a message from the, for my 20 year old self, it was like first, You’re not busy.

Second, you can probably get that workout done in a lot less time. And third, all the people that you thought you were meeting in the gym, you know, all those things. I mean, it’s just but yeah, no aging. I wish we could, you know, I could tell you there’s something we could turn it back.

Mike: You mean we can’t just take NMN and reverse our biological age?

Stu: Still nothing nothing in a pill. Maybe slow things down, but nothing in a pill is going to, you know, turn it back or, you know, reverse age or anything else like that. So exercises is part, you know, is number one, good diet, have some friends, you know, live well yada.

Mike: And as for protein intake, is there anything though, that.

Ideally, you would change, like you mentioned, a higher protein diet. So as we get older, should we still be thinking with, for example, 0. 7 grams per pound per day? No reason to go above that any, anything with individual feedings or distribution or.

Stu: Yeah I, again that number I think is universal.

There’s nothing that’s out there that makes me think that you’re getting lower. If you, I just don’t see the difference. And I’m like a lot of people I stick at this sort of lower end, even though it’s higher than what’s recommended. And a lot of people are like, Oh, you should go up to this. And I’m like, you know, if that’s your thing I’m not telling you not to do it, but what I am telling you is that there’s nothing, and I mean, 0.

0 evidence. That we have that 1. 6 versus 0. 7 versus 2. 2 grams per kilo or one gram per pound that this is better than this. You know, there’s no study out there that shows it. There’s a couple that have tried, no difference. You know, you make your mind up. I mean, I think that the quality of the protein may begin to matter, but if you’re still active and lifting and doing all the things that I’m telling you to do as you get older, that’s a far bigger stimulus to keep yourself anabolically sensitive than to keep trying to pour protein on top.

But it’s still, remember, it’s still two times what we’re recommending, and so there’d be another camp of people that would be looking at me like I have two heads and saying, That’s an enormous amount of protein, and, you know, I spent enough time on social media to run into those people as well, and I’m like, well, that’s the protein intake of 95 percent of college age males on campus they easily meet that, no problem you can call it enormous, and I’m like, well, I got 33, 000 undergrads about half of which are men and they’re hitting that without a thought.

So you can call it enormous. I just don’t think it is.

Mike: Even women who in my experience when they start lifting weights and start learning about this stuff. typically are eating less protein than the average guy in my experience. And so there’s a short period of adjustment where they go, wow, I’m supposed to eat 80 grams of protein per day.

I mean, I’m eating 30 right now. That’s and then, so there’s a, there’s initially it can feel like a lot, although I also have heard from many of them over the years who like how much fuller they feel and they quickly get used to and they go, oh, okay. If I just make sure that I start my day with a nice serving of protein, I don’t, it’s, that’s pretty easy.

Then I just have to get in a couple more. But if I’m only at 15 grams of protein by dinner, then that’s when it’s more difficult.

Stu: Yeah that, you know, you hit on a key point. I think it probably is, I’ll call it underappreciated. Every single study that’s been done, like the one we talked about, the Trolland paper and the ones that we’ve done and lots of other labs and you know, there’s not too many of us that do these types of studies we bring people in after an overnight fast and then we feed them.

So it’s a first meal effect in about, I’d say about 90 to 95 percent of the work that’s out there. So if that first meal is, you know, am breakfast, fair enough. But just it, that’s an important point to remember because I think that meal is you know, the most important meal of the day doesn’t have to be breakfast, but whatever your first meal is and you break your fast.

Then that needs to be a, I’ll call it a patterning meal or something that sort of sets the tone for the rest of the day. So it should be higher in protein. And to your point, Mike, I think that this is, you know, a lot of people out there, they do, you know, that’s their smallest protein meal. And so if that’s very carb rich and very high in fiber, as you know, if you’re following the heart healthy guidelines, it supposedly should be.

Then lunch is maybe sort of an edge up, and then dinner is this big meal. And sometimes it is tougher to make up, but I think so, thinking more about protein containing foods, so Greek style yogurt, skier. It’s okay to have an egg, you know, we’ve taken them off the dirt list. They’re okay for you at that first meal and to really sort of kickstart the response.

And I think that’s something that most people just sort of, you know, maybe haven’t realized with a lot of the work, but a good friend of mine, Don Wayman. He emphasizes this all the time. It’s a first meal effect. And that’s an important point. I said for your listeners, for sure.

Mike: And just to follow up on that, is that mostly just, you mentioned a patterning effect where it kind of sets the tone.

Okay. We’ve started with some protein and then now we’re already maybe one third to our goal for the day or something, or Are there some physiological reasons you say that?

Stu: Yeah, I wish I could give you some great, you know, insightful physiology answer. But all I can tell you is this, that when we look at the, all of the studies that have always been done, and it’s just a control issue to say this, that we start people fasted and then they work out and we feed them or we feed them then they work out.

It’s just a much, I’ll call it cleaner experimental model to do it that way. So that’s how we’ve done it. But when we do the subsequent feeding we do have some data that’s in process right now, which will show that it’s probably far less important than that first meal effect, if you like.

I don’t really, I can’t really explain it other than it’s the time when your muscle is sort of, you know, it’s been without food and nutrients for some period of time, and that enhances to a degree some of the sensitivity that it’s going to, you know, respond to. The second effect is like, well, you know, we’ve seen that stuff before you know, we’re not as responsive as we were working out definitely take some of the breaks off of that, but I think that first meal is key and pretty critical in the response.

Mike: Interesting. You mentioned quality of protein. Can you speak quickly to that? Just because that’s also an ongoing, I thought the incomplete protein myth finally died.

Stu: It has not it’s still very light. It has, it’s dead. It’s pretty much dead. You know, vegan versus you know, meat and everything.

And it’s just a preference issue and whatever you’re. schema for, I’m a, you know, I’m a, I’m an omnivore. So I’ll just, you know, cop to that. I see the merits in both ways of eating. You do whatever you want to do. My point is when you get to about 1. 6 grams per kilo per day, or 0. 7 grams per pound that issue becomes a completely moot point.

And lots of people on all kinds of social media platforms say, but plant proteins are deficient. No, And proteins are not deficient. They might be low or, but they’re not deficient. And when we eat, you know, complimentary proteins and we sort of, you know, eat mixed meals, which is what most people do then it becomes a non-issue very quickly.

There might be some sort of small, and when I say small, like really in the margin type stuff, sort of, you know, the statistical difference between the 100 gram and the 25 gram. And I think, and you know, that’s not something that we all need to sort of run away and say plant proteins are inferior to.

Everything that we’ve done where we compare the two of them head to head and lots of other work from not just our lab, but Luke Van Loon’s lab is another great one for doing this. The differences become very small as you get older, it might become a bigger issue. But I still think that the main driver and the thing that you can do to sort of make that kind of a non issue is to lift some weights and be physically active.

And then things become very inconsequential as far as the way that you’re going to gain muscle.

Mike: To that point of, as you get older, it may or may not matter. yeah. The way that most people eat, most people are omnivores as well. And so probably the majority of the protein is going to come from, I mean, at least 50%, it’s going to come from animal products, whether it’s.

meat or dairy or whatever. And then there’s a lot of kind of complementary or supplementary proteins, so to speak, that you can get in beans and legumes and seeds and other things. And if I’m hearing you right, then that a person who’s eating that way has no reason, regardless of age to force themselves to maybe eat even more animal protein when they actually.

They actually they like the way they’re eating right now. They don’t want to have to eat more animal products. And then also if you have somebody who’s vegetarian. The same would go for them is that’s under the assumption that they are getting to right amount of protein. And if they are doing that, they’re probably being deliberate about some of the foods they’re eating.

’cause it is kind of hard to do if you just randomly eat yummy plant foods. There’s probably some fish in there or some tofu or tempa or they’ve put some thought into it. And then for a ve for a vegan. Eater that would, that has to happen or you don’t get very far if you don’t put a little bit of thought into your meal plan to get enough protein.

Stu: Yeah, well, so you hit all the concepts that I think are important. First is the total amount of food. And I think that this is some of the harder part, I think, for, you know, as people get older, their appetite goes down, they tend not to eat as much. If you’re vegan you need to be a bit judicious about how you pick your foods.

And so you can’t just sort of, you know, think, Oh, it doesn’t, it’s inconsequential.

Mike: Yeah, I saw some woman on YouTube. She eats a hundred bananas a day.

Stu: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. But does she, are you sure? Yeah.

Mike: Or did she just say she does?

Stu: Yeah. Well, you know, I just, I don’t want to be too skeptical, but that sounds a bit of a stretch.

Yeah, I mean, you can, you know, you can it’s about, you can be a crummy omnivore and not eat the right foods, just like you can be a crummy vegetarian and a crummy vegan, right? You can, you know, a can of diet Coke and a slice of Wonder Bread is still a vegan diet, but It’s not good nutrition.

So most vegans and, or vegetarians that I have interacted with, and particularly those that are athletic, they’re very careful about how they plan their diets. Not all but most, and they have a pretty good working knowledge of what they might be quote unquote deficient in. But the arguments that I hear a lot on social media about you’re, you know, you’re eating plants, they’re poison, they’ve got poisons in them.

That’s even worse. Yeah. I hate it so much. First that’s terrible. And then they go, and it’s deficient. And I’m like, no, it’s not. They’re like, well, it’s low in. And I’m like, but, and you eat more. And they’re like, but yeah, you’re. Not getting eugen. I’m like, okay we’re done. It’s, you know.

Mike: The plants do, the plants are trying to kill you. Why would you eat them? They’re trying to kill you. .

Stu: Well, it becomes it’s I mean it takes on you know, forgive me, but almost sort of religious overtones in the way that you eat. And I think the people that are talking like that have just lost plot a little bit about. What food is all about besides the fact that it’s nutrition should also be enjoyed.

And if you enjoy eating that way, then who am I to tell you to do something different?

Mike: Well, I know we are coming up on time I don’t want to run over and that went by quickly. That was a great discussion, touched on all the key points I wanted to wanted to ask you about. Why don’t we quickly wrap up with well, first let me just ask, I know there’s a few more minutes.

So is there anything that I should have asked anything else you’d like to say that you didn’t get to say yet?

Stu: I don’t think so. I mean, I still you know, when people ask me about a lot about nutrition, I’m like and people get upset when I say this, I’m like, I think it’s a pretty, I’ll call it from a health standpoint, a distant number two to being physically active.

Once you dial the physical activity and particularly the strength training, resistance training and a lot of things fall in place, the nutrition, not that it’s unimportant. But for mere mortals, and I put myself very much in that category, and not in the sort of, I’m trying to squeeze out the last drop of juice.

But, you know, if you are in that part of the thing, then some of what I’m talking about, what we’re talking about, is a bigger deal. But for most folks Get to the gym and do it regularly. And then the eating part is the, you know, that’s discipline number two in my mind. But protein, once you get to the total amount, all the rest becomes sort of, I’ll call them sub details underneath that total amount. If you like rule.

Mike: That’s a great point on the exercise. It reminds me of just a point I’ve made, I’ve written about it. I’ve spoken about it referencing some research and basically saying, Hey, Based on my understanding here, exercise is the most important thing, and it looks if you exercise regularly and you maintain a healthy body composition, and that’s a range, you don’t have to be shredded, but maintain a healthy body composition, that will negate, it appears, a lot of the negative effects associated with a poor diet.

I’m not saying to eat a poor diet. It’s better to do it all. But to your point, first and foremost, you have to stay active. And it’s interesting having discussions with people where some people are looking for the magic pill. That’s one level of fantasy. And then there are people who are okay.

They’ve accepted there is no magic pill, but they’re looking for the magic diet, the magic food And I, in, in those discussions I’ve had, I’ve tried to explain this point of, well, we could talk about diet, but you’re not exercising at all. And really what you need to be doing is exercising. And so I actually don’t care.

Let’s not do too many things at once. Eat the way you’re eating. Let’s not change any of that. And let’s just get you exercising and there’s resistance there because that’s harder to do. Then can I just make some little inconsequential change to my, can I start eating a Brazil nut every day? Can’t that Fix all of my problems.

What do you mean? Anyway, just,

Stu: I agree a hundred percent. No you’re spot on. You’re spot on. I, yeah I’m a big believer too. You know, if you don’t have the physical activity dialed in, not that changing your eating habits is a poor idea. I just don’t think that you’re, and everybody then wants to talk about weight loss and I’m like, yeah.

But so beyond this sort of, and not to be too myopic on weight loss as the, and not just a part of healthy living, I think that being physically active is like hands down is the number one activity you can do for your health. And your, I don’t know, dare I say longevity or health span, but you know, you get my point.

I think we’re both drinking the Kool Aid.

Mike: Non negotiable. Okay. Well, anyways, this was a great discussion. Why don’t we just wrap up quickly with where people can find you, if they want to check out some of your work, some of your research, anything in particular you want them to know?

Stu: Sure. Yeah. I’m on I’m on Twitter X but whatever it is, yeah.

Yeah. I’m on Instagram. I’m on Tik TOK really on Tik TOK just to. Really pissed my son off, my youngest son who said old people ruin TikTok, so as an old person. You’re doing your part. You’re fighting a good fight, actually. I am ruining the platform for people like my son. I am MackinProf, M A C K I N P R O F.

I’m on LinkedIn and Facebook as well I think that sort of covers it. I’m really bad at TikTok. I’m okay at Instagram. I kind of do my best work on the actual thing,

Mike: I like X the most too, because it’s a text first platform, which is, I like writing stuff. So.

Stu: Yeah, and you know, I’ll be honest I’ve perused TikTok and it, I find it shocking.

Mike: It’s brain damaging. I downloaded it and then I signed up and then I I uninstalled it that I’m in the same day and I know, and that was the end of it.

Stu: I’m on it. And I’m on it basically. Cause a lot of my students that I mentor, they say, Oh, I got this off of tick tock. And I,

Mike: Yeah. All right. Well, I know you have to run, so I want to thank you again for your time.

Stu: My pleasure, Mike. Thanks very much for having me on the show. Appreciate it.

Mike: Absolutely. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people.

Who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email Mike at muscle for life. com muscle F O R life. com and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.

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