Absorption vs Utilization
Pro-fans, there has been a great amount of debate on how much protein you should take in one sitting. I think it’s important to understand the absorption rate and utilization on certain proteins from food or protein shakes.
Let’s start with protein shakes.
Many of you know that whey (isolate) is the fastest way to absorb protein, but the efficacy of taking 30 grams or so of protein depends on how your body will utilize it in your digestive system. With protein shakes, you can absorb about 10 grams of protein per hour, while with whole foods your body can absorb 2-5 grams per hour. But this can also vary depending on how your body breaks it down through your digestive tract. (This is where your body breaks it down and takes the Essential Amino Acids your body needs to grow.) This is different for everyone, we are all in different shapes and sizes, so saying your body will use 40-50-60 grams of protein in one sitting can be a matter of debate. But one thing we know is that everyone is different and we have to calculate the amount of protein we need to take.
I get asked all the time, how much should I take?
My answer is start slowly in increasing the protein. This is how you will know how much your body can and will absorb. If you find yourself running to the bathroom, this can be an indicator that your body is not utilizing it. The rule still stands with 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight to grow, but this also means you have to do this GRADUALLY, you have to train your body to take a certain amount to acquire the utilization. Think of it this way: Would someone who is starting the gym for the first time, hit the gym 5 days a week and do what an advanced person would do? NO! My point is to be smart about it.
Now the protein that we don’t absorb and utilize towards building muscle for recovery is used as energy. Yes, protein can be used as an energy, just like fat. But this can be a Catch-22 when you have people that want to burn fat! Too much protein can then be stored as fat depending on the sugar blood level. So knowing this can really help someone understand that taking too much protein in one sitting can help but also hurt them depending on the goal you are trying to achieve. This is where you have to understand your body.
I am big on “understanding your body.” You must know your goals and medical condition. Some people can’t take too much protein because of health issues such as gout or liver and/or kidney damage. So when I hear someone say, “Hey take this,” it amazes me to think how quick we are to give answers. At ProSource.net, I have learned not to just be quick to say what people want to hear because it’s the easy way out. I try to simply give the facts to the best of my knowledge and experience in bodybuilding and nutrition.
The amount of protein your body can take in is dependent upon your physical health and how your digestive system breaks down the protein. What may be right for one person might not be right for another person.