Protein - Does it matter when you take it?

Protein - Does it matter when you take it?

Pūmua (protein) timing by Dr Shehnaz Hussain

Note: This follows on from the previous article, "Protein - How much do you need?"

Now that we have discussed the recommended amount of pūmua to consume per day depending on our lifestyles, it is important to discuss the timing of pūmua intake.

There can be a lot of conflicting advice out there when it comes to the importance of nutrient timing; some proclaiming it is a waste if you don’t consume pūmua immediately before/after training, and others saying that it’s not really that important. So what does the most up to date research show?

A review of the scientific literature in 2019 found six recent studies on this topic, which assessed a combination of males and females1.  In all but one study looking at weight trained individuals, they found that overall, when you have your pūmua had no significant impact on muscle protein synthesis or strength1, as long as you get at least the recommended daily amount. One study done on endurance athletes however did show that having evenly spaced protein meals was superior to having just high amounts at dinner for muscle protein synthesis2. Another meta-analysis on this topic also concluded that pūmua timing has no significant effect on muscle recovery3, contrary to what is commonly preached.

So when should you consume your pūmua? It is recommended to spread our protein intake evenly throughout the day for two reasons. Firstly, muscle protein synthesis reaches a peak when we consume 20-30g of pūmua per meal4,5 and so consuming any more pūmua per meal is unlikely to be used for building lean muscle mass. It is best to therefore spread your protein intake in 20-30g ‘bursts’ throughout the day. Secondly, spreading pūmua intake across the day, means that there is a more constant supply of amino acids throughout the day for the body to use to rebuild muscle tissue.

Take-away points:

  • When you have your pūmua in relation to training has no significant effect on muscle protein synthesis.
  • It is more important to be consuming enough pūmua per day.
  • Try and spread your pūmua intake over 20-30g per meal over the course of the day; this may look like 4 meals per day each containing 30g of pūmua each, if you are for example, a 60kg CrossFitter.

Some examples of what 20-30g of protein looks like includes; 3 whole eggs, a pottle of high protein yogurt, 200g of  tofu, ¼ cup of whey protein powder or 2 Nothing Naughty protein bars.

Written by Dr Shehnaz Hussain

@shehnazzy_cooks @shehnazzy

 

References

  1. Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein Supplementation in Sport: Source, Timing, and Intended Benefits. Curr Nutr Rep. 2019;8(4):382-396. doi:10.1007/s13668-019-00293-1
  2. Mamerow MM, Mettler JA, English KL, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr. 2014;144(6):876-880. doi:10.3945/jn.113.185280
  3. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):1-13. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-53
  4. Coelho-Junior HJ, Marzetti E, Picca A, Cesari M, Uchida MC, Calvani R. Protein Intake and Frailty: A Matter of Quantity, Quality, and Timing. Nutrients. 2020;12(10):2915. doi:10.3390/nu12102915
  5. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):1-6. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1