How Much Protein Can You Digest Per Meal? (ABSORPTION MYTH)

What’s up guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.COM.
Today I want to talk to you guys about Protein
Absorption and this controversy that was sparked
by the video I did about my 61 gram meal of
protein in the morning,
with lots of people saying, but Jeff, isn’t
it true that only 30 grams of protein is the
max amount that you can absorb in a single
That is a bodybuilding myth that had been
perpetuated for far too long and I felt like
it deserved it’s own video to try to break
it down
as easily as we could to show you that it’s
simply not true. There is no magic 30 gram
limit. Matter of fact it could be much, much
higher than that.
So the first thing that we have to understand
is where did this all come about in the first
A lot of it came from research that showed
that protein absorbed differently, was absorbed
differently depending upon the source of the
So some of the research showed, believe it
or not, that at the high end here, there was
a Pork mixture that got absorbed at about
10 grams per hour, ok.
And that Whey Protein, which we know is a
highly absorbable form of protein, came in
in the 7 to 9 grams or so, per hour rate.
Then we had our Chicken that was somewhere
in the 5 grams per hour rate, ok.
And then we know that we had Egg protein that
was only being absorbed at 1.2 grams per hour.
Right, the next piece of information that
we know is that the average transit between
the stomach through the small intestines is
about 6 hours.
So what the researchers did who came up with
this magic number, God knows how long ago,
is they basically took an average,
knowing that protein transit rate is somewhere
between 1 and 10 grams an hour with an average
being around 5,
and a total transit distance or length in
time of 6 hours. You’ve got 6 x 5 that’s 30.
So basically at 30 grams you can no longer
absorb any of this.
And you can no longer digest that other remaining
extra protein.
Well there’s a couple of problems with this
guys, first of all. Right here these numbers
were widely varied because the methods that
they collected this information were varied.
Basically you’ve got some studies that were
doing this through a direct infusion into
the blood of these protein sources versus
some with oral ingestion.
We know that that can dramatically change
the outcome of these studies.
So, first of all, this might all be flawed
in the first place. And then secondly, we
know that transit time can really vary as
based on even the training state and when
you’re ingesting your food. A lot of flawed
information here.
And another thing you can do, just with your
own critical eye is, say to yourself, hold
on a second, if egg protein is only 1.2 grams
per hour,
does that mean that if you have 24 grams of
protein from eggs which is not all that much
as I showed you in the video the other day,
that’s only about 6 or 7 egg whites, that
that’s going to take you over 24 hours to
See right off the bat you start to think,
there’s something wrong here.
So number 2, we have to make sure that we
clarify a major difference between the words
protein absorption and protein utilization.
Absorption is the ability of your body to
take it into the bloodstream and start using
it somewhere, somehow, someway.
Utilization is actually using it for the purposes
that we’re looking at here and that’s utilized
towards new muscle growth, new protein synthesis.
That’s really, if you’re a guy lifting weights
probably your primary concern.
Well, let’s take a look at quick little drawing
here. Here is a guy, ok that’s me with my
big nose, here, ok.
He’s got his esophagus down into the stomach,
ok and then off of the stomach into the small
intestine, ok.
The beginning part of the small intestine
that’s the duodenum, that’s where a lot of
our absorption occurs.
But in the digestive process, you eat some
protein, your saliva starts to break things
down, a little bit.
It goes down into the stomach, here is where
the action starts. We have our hydrochloric
acid that’s going to break our protein down
into it’s constituent, amino acids,
some, little bit of larger chains, di peptides,
tri peptides but eventually they start to
flow into the duodenum here
and that’s where a lot of our absorption is
going to occur. And as I said, absorption
is a much different concept than utilization.
We’re going to absorb almost all of the protein
that we bring in our bodies because we’re
not stupid.
It leads us into our next point, our humans
have survived for a long time for a reason.
Our bodies are adaptive, they’re not stupid.
You’re going to absorb almost all of it. If
you didn’t, if you thought that if you had
an 80 gram meal that you could only absorb
about 30,
you’re basically passing 50 grams right through
and out the other way. You got a 50 gram mini
steaks coming out your ass if you think that’s
what’s going to actually occur.
So in actuality when we’re talking about absorption,
we do get a high rate of absorption,
because what happens are these di-tri peptides
and their constituent amino acids do get taken
up into the bloodstream,
but something happens right there. We have
a first pass metabolism, it takes that through,
just the absorption through the small intestine,
the small intestine uses a lot of those amino
acids for itself and it’s own protein synthesis.
As does the liver, it also uses it for it’s
own protein synthesis. So what you’re left
with is not what you brought in.
30 grams are not coming all the way through
to be utilized by the muscles.
You’re left with a lot smaller percentage
of what your initial intake was to actually
be utilized by the muscles.
So that’s one concept. Now the next thing
we have to talk about. As I said humans are
So we, based on our forefathers, were out
there hunting and gathering in spurts. We
would take in and maybe get access to a meal
that had a 150 grams of protein,
if we were so lucky back as a caveman, to
eat that and then allow maybe 24-48 hours
before we ever found another meal again.
If you think that we only digested 30 grams
of that and the rest was gone, we never would
have lived this long.
So studies now show and support that, very
interestingly, if you have 150 grams of protein
in one meal, ok one meal, versus 30 grams
of protein in 5 meals, spread throughout the
the overall nitrogen excretion, which would
be a measure of the waste of the protein and
also protein synthesis, stayed the same.
It’s the same between the two, in one meal
versus in 5 meals.
So it kind of threw that whole myth about
a maximum amount being necessary for you to
realize any gains and benefits from it.
But we have to understand, muscle growth is
not all about protein guys, it should never
all be about protein.
And when you think, because this might support
those that believe Intermittent Fasting is
the way to go because they’ll say,
well I’ll just get all my food in, in one
shot or at least in a very consolidated window
and then I won’t have to worry about eating
for all those other hours of the day,
versus the guy that says he wants to eat 5
or 6 times a day. People will say that, that
is support for that not being the ideal way
to eat.
Doing so ignores an entirely different concept
here guys and that is blood sugar stability,
The stability of your blood sugar is paramount,
I believe, to realizing long term muscle gains
by looking at the big picture, ok.
If we look at just protein in isolation, we
know that that really doesn’t have an impact
on our blood sugar.
But that’s not how we eat. We don’t ever really
eat protein in isolation and if you are, I
can tell you’re having a pretty boring and
bland diet
that likely you’re not going to be able to
stick to for very long. We usually eat foods
in combination.
Proteins and carbohydrates together are going
to have an impact on our blood sugar and the
way we feel.
So if you go and you feel that you’re going
to eat all of your meals in one consolidated
time frame because from a protein standpoint,
it’s not going have a difference.
It is going to have a major difference on
how your brain perceives that type of approach
to eating.
And I’m not talking about here, any impact
on metabolism. That’s long ago been a myth
that has been dispelled.
We’re not talking about a metabolism boosting
effects of a stable blood sugar.
We’re talking about the delivery of blood
glucose to your brain and it’s ability to
keep you functioning at your best,
and how that will relate to your workouts
in a long term.
Because your brain thrives on having a consistent
delivery of glucose, it’s primary fuel to
operate at it’s best.
And when your brain is not operating at it’s
best you can feel fatigue, you can feel irritable,
you can feel even dizzy, right, low energy.
How are you going to attack your workouts
with your best intensity if you’re brain is
low on blood sugar.
If your brain is suffering for the primary
fuel it craves, you’re not going to. So think
about the long term implications of that on
your training.
So guys, all in all, I feel as if sometimes,
we put the cart before the horse.
If you are concentrating so much on the minutiae
of , oh I can’t eat 35 grams of protein or
Or 30 grams of protein or my God if I eat
65 grams of protein I’m going to basically
turn into an onion or something. Something
weird is going to happen to me.
A lot of times I find guys putting the complicated
things, the minutiae, in front of the big
picture because it makes avoiding the big
picture a lot easier.
If I can focus on the things that are going
to take a lot more work, it confuses the matter
and it makes it a lot easier for me to just
well you know what I just can’t really do
it because it’s so confusing even the researchers
don’t know what they’re doing.
That’s not how it goes guys. For me in particular,
I have found that a boost of protein, eating
60 grams of protein or so in the morning has
worked well for me.
Again this is going to vary. Even the upper
range of protein, there is a daily range most
likely, to what you can take in, in a day.
But it is so varies depending upon the size
of the individual, their experience weight
training, when they’re taking in their protein.
There’s a lot of factors that come in to why
the body responds a certain way to it.
But for me I find that getting a consistent
delivery of protein, having carbohydrates.
I believe carbohydrates are a very important
part of our daily diets, they should not be
Having those two come in together, getting
a consistent flow of nutrients in my body.
Keeping my blood sugar stable throughout the
Keeping my energy level stable so that I can
attack my workouts with intensity.
Relying on higher protein options like my
RX Supplements that allow me to get my protein
a little bit easier.
And sort of having a whole simplified approach
to eating. For me it’s simple. For me it’s
very easy for me to do.
I find that that’s been effective for me.
What happens with you is a much different
But as I always say here guys, if you want
a simplified approach, if you want to follow
a plan that breaks it down, literally I give
you exactly what I do,
meal by meal, exactly what I eat. That video
was just a sneak peak into what I do. But
there’s other, I don’t eat the same thing
every single day,
so there’s other meal options and things of
how I utilize my proteins and how I combine
things together. And exactly how I supplement.
All of the information I put in our ATHLEANX
Training Program, if you want to get a day
by day, step by step approach to nutrition
to finally start making it simple,
then you can do that at ATHLEANX.COM. Just
grab my 90 day training program.
I always say it’s mine because it really is
based off of what I do and what I’ve done
with my athletes that I know works.
And again, you can focus on trying to rely
on old dogma or old myths to make it a lot
more confusing and to slow down your ultimate
But I don’t think we have to make it that
complicated guys.
So here you go, there you have it. Hopefully
this video was helpful. If you found it helpful,
make sure you leave a thumbs up and some comments
In the meantime, I’ll be back here again in
just a couple days with more videos.
Let me know what you want to see and I’ll
make sure that I bring them to you.
Thanks guys.

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