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

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
meal? 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 place. A lot of it came from research that showed
that protein absorbed differently, was absorbed differently depending upon the source of the
protein. 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
well, 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 digest. 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, again, 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 smart. 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 day, 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, ok. 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 more. 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
say, 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 avoided. Having those two come in together, getting
a consistent flow of nutrients in my body. Keeping my blood sugar stable throughout the
day. 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 story. 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
progression. 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
below. 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.


  1. So is it perfectly fine for me if I eat more than 100g of protein in one meal? Or would it be better if I seperate this one meal into two meals?

  2. If you listen very carefully 2x he mentions the importance of other words..fuck the keto diet. Jeff, the only man on youtube trustworthy.

  3. Dumb question isn't excessive amount of protein hard on your kidneys though? Already had kidney stones once just wanna make sure I take care of them.

  4. Carbohydrates is not important for those who want to lose weight
    Protein is the only thing keep your cells active and give you muscle not corb

  5. In my personal experience. I don't get a better or more substantial muscle using whey protein with my normal meals. Really. I'm now losing weight because I need to. So I cut the food intake and still I grow muscles or mantain doing exercises. I mostly run right now, do abs and some weights. Think, if you catabolize a lot of muscle and protein, lots of people just die in a few days doing only diet.

  6. The best protein is plant protein. Eating animals for protein is like having a middleman for protein. Skip the middleman and you go straight to the source.

  7. I'm glad I watched this video I definitely was going by the 30 gram at a time rule I'm about to change that without going overboard

  8. I lost him after he drew that person… lol 😂… doesn’t even look like a person!! Lol 😂… Jeff, never ever ever quit your job and get into the arts lol 😂. You have confirmed with that drawing that u are where u are suppose to be. Also – as always an amazing explanation on when, where, why, who, and how much protein to eat. Thank u.

  9. Great video, actually been using Greek yogurt FAGE' instead of spending money on whey protein powder. When u add it up anyway it's roughly the same, unless u buy a nuclear holocaust size package of ISO pure or what have you. 🙂

  10. Jeff's voice is considerably higher in his older videos. But then again he probably gets testosterone shots now.

  11. Great video! I have a question for you, do you think fasting maybe every other week might have benefits? Do you see fasting beneficial in anyway?? I'm just curious on your take, I've heard different perspectives on this topic.

  12. Your drawing was a penis bro. Wtf. Thanks for the info, however. I have been making gains from studying your videos. I appreciate your passion.

  13. i cant have a normal nutrition i wake up 6 am and barely go to school on time. In school there is nothing i can eat that i either like or is fitting so i take a sandwich from home and i get home 18:00(6PM) if im training and 15:30(3.30PM) if im not and where do i go from there i have one meal left after no breakfast and a small sandwich

  14. The methodology of many small protein packed meals a day for gains helps sell protein powders, because nobody wants to go through all that extra prep. It's also the polar opposite of the way a hunter would eat, and presumably the hunters were some of the most muscular and athletic of a tribe of preindustrial humans.

  15. No lies before i found out i was intolerant to eggs, i was eating 60-68 grams of protein every morning, i’d be filled with energy even till after my gym session.

  16. "Even researchers doesn't know what they're doing" I cracked up because I thought of this earlier while reading about macros

  17. I had gastric bypass and dont pass food through the duodenum. I eat a number of small meals because my blood sugar has delayed hypoglycemia from to much sugar. Mayo clinic told me to eat smaller meals to keep it regulated better. I avoid carbs mostly except fruit. I do eat some but dont like them in my home. Temptation… a cruel master… so far all my labs are great.

  18. Your body only requires 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. The only time your body needs more or can even effectively use more is when your overtrained and taking gear 👍💪

  19. Wouldn’t you want 3-5 meals vs 1 meal a day for protein synthesis happening multiple times a day vs once a day? That would be my concern and reason for multiple meals.

  20. The brain can turn to ketones and use as energy.
    And you have a looot of glycogen reserves in Ur body.
    People are eating way too much Times a day. Intermittent Fasting is the way to go for fat loss.
    Not the best for a bulk tho

  21. I fast everyday (20:4) however, today for my second meal I consumed 125g of protein (baby back ribs), so can my body absorb every bit of the protein ?

  22. Im pissy in the mornings and I believe I conditioned myself to be hungry about 10-11am. That's when I eat my Chick-fil-A orrr something else.. nothing heavy.. and the rest of my day, up until 5 6 ish, is pretty damn good. I feel like the gym is a burden at times…

  23. IF is actually better for your brain. Sure if you are used to getting a constant stream of glucose you would struggle as your body adapted. But as you said Jeff we evolved, adapted to be able to do that. Also whether you eat all your meals in a 8 hour window or even in 4 hours, it can still take 12-16 hours before it is all digested. So for your body to even get a complete break from digestive processing you need to go without eating for substantial periods. I know myself from having blood tests that I can still have moderate blood sugar levels even 14 hours after eating.

  24. I'm on intermitent fasting 24h, and i go 1 meal = 160g protein, i know the rate of absorbtion is extremely high when i break the fast .

  25. The Institute of Medicine says that carbohydrates aren’t even an essential nutrient. The liver can produce the glucose required by the body. So it seems to me that carbohydrates being “important” despite being nonessential is an outdated myth that was based on eating primarily a low fat diet.

  26. Professor Don Layman states that the minimum protein at a meal should be 30 grams of protein.

  27. Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone and triggers sirtuins to increase energy in all the cells in your body. Scientists at Harvard have already proven that intermittent fasting also helps the health of your cells and increases your lifespan. I think your theory is flawed.

  28. Actually the brain prefers ketones to glucose. Also, blood sugar is better controlled on low carb. Here's One of many talks.:

  29. thank god you covered this. I've been trying to find this answer for a long fuckign time because that shit (30g per meal) didn't make sense. THANK YOU JEFF.

  30. what you have to understand is that your body can only absorb 4 to 6 oz at a time of meat and anyting over that will be turned into fat.

  31. Doesn’t it really come down to digestive enzymes and the type of protein? ie animal protein vs plant protein? Animal protein taking longer to digest as they are whole proteins that need to be unpacked vs plant proteins that aren’t whole? Can someone comment.

  32. You say all of these things about fasting and yet I work out fasted all of the time and go beast mode. Its definitely a viable option.

  33. excellent insight Jeff I found this very informational and confirms your thoughts.

  34. 5 years later the comic meme of the dude eating his own shit out of the toilet in fear of losing gains all makes sense now lol

  35. Does lions split their protein up 6 times a day to absorb all the protein? No. Did cavemen split up protein to get it absorbed? No. Theres your answer. Always go to evolution for answers.

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