Protein Per Meal

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How much protein should I be eating per meal for optimal muscle protein synthesis?

Short Answer

Timing is minimally important when compared to getting total daily protein intake.

Long Answer

Protein should be evenly distributed throughout the day with 25-35g of high quality protein containing 2-3g of leucine.[1][2] Alan Aragon has suggested that 0.4g-0.5g of protein per meal will max out muscle protein synthesis.[citation needed]

In older men, a dose of up to 40g of protein may be needed.[3]

Ingesting more than 35g of protein per meal will not "waste" protein, as is commonly thought.

A 2015 study compared ingestion of 40g of protein and 70g of protein on muscle protein synthesis.[4] This study showed that while you will have a greater protein balance in the body with 70g of protein, there is no difference in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) between the two. While this does not increase MPS, protein is still needed in the body in other cells for cellular turnover (cell death and repair). This is in contrast to the previously common thought that 20g of protein was maximum. Tipton et al. showed that 40g of protein will cause greater MPS than 20g of protein.[5]

Thus we can draw from the above that 40g of high quality protein is the maximum amount needed to stimulate the maximal MPS response. However, excess protein ingested will not go to waste, as this will be used in the bodies amino acid pool to be oxidized or used for protein synthesis elsewhere in the body.

Further Reading


  1. Smith-Ryan, Abbie E.; Antonio, Jose (2013). Sports Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Learning. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-60797-339-3.