Hit the gym, smash a steak, chug a shake, and gain size. That’s basically how it works, right? Well, no, sadly it’s not exactly that simple. In fact, there’s actually a limit to how much protein your body can absorb in one sitting.
According to dietician and Nike long distance runner, Linden Hall, that upper limit of protein absorption is around 30 grams in one sitting for a full-grown man. Anything above this amount heads to other areas of the body, or passes straight through and into the toilet.
When talking to Men's Health at Nike's Zoom Camp, Hall gave us an exact idea of exactly what 30 grams of protein looked like; 1 cup of Greek yoghurt with nuts, a palm sized piece of chicken, or one scoop of whey protein. Yep, any product offering you a protein hit above this is pure marketing gimmick. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
“Skeletal muscle protein synthesis is maximized by 25 to 35 grams of high-quality protein during a meal,” confirms Dr. Doug Paddon-Jones, a professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch, when talking to Men’s Health US.
When you exercise, tiny tears occur in the muscles, and protein helps fill these tears, repairing the muscle and putting on size. And while there’s no doubt to the benefits of protein post-workout, by eating too much you risk causing more damage that good, inhibiting your nutrient uptake from other foods.
So if there’s a limit to the uptake of protein within your body, how the heck are you meant to get swole? Hit the carbs mate!
Carbohydrates get a really bad wrap, but as your body’s first source of energy, you really shouldn’t be avoiding them, especially if you’re looking to put on some size. Without sufficient carbohydrate intake, you risk entering a catabolic state of muscle soreness, poor recovery, and limited progress. Whilst protein is the obvious go-to when body building, it’s role is to repair damaged muscle tissue, while carbohydrates are converted to glycogen, energy stored in the muscles, giving them essential extra size and strength.