How Many Grams of Protein Can Your Body Absorb in One Sitting?

Roasted rib eye steak with green asparagus
How Many Grams of Protein Can Your Body Absorb in One Sitting? (Image: AlexRaths/iStock/GettyImages)

The optimum amount of protein per meal for muscle building — about 30 grams, according to one study — is sometimes quoted as the maximum amount you can absorb, but the two are not related. Rapidly absorbed protein boosts muscle protein synthesis after exercise, but one way or another, one protein is in your body, protein will be mostly absorbed.

Dietary Protein Absorption

Before your body can absorb proteins, digestive enzymes in your stomach and small intestine break them apart into amino acids. As amino acids come into contact with the lining of your small intestine, transporters carry them through the intestinal lining, where two things can happen: They can gain access to your bloodstream or they can be used by tissues in your gut. Whichever path they take, proteins are now successfully absorbed. More than 90 percent of all the protein you consume is absorbed, reports the European Food Information Council.

Protein Absorption Rate

Amino acids are absorbed at the rate of 1.3 grams to 10 grams an hour, according to a report published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. A large percentage is absorbed because partially digested food is in the small intestine for hours. In addition to your overall health, several factors influence the absorption rate. Protein drinks are absorbed more rapidly than protein consumed with fiber-containing foods because fiber slows down nutrient absorption. Protein hydrolysates, which are proteins broken into smaller pieces of amino acids, are absorbed more quickly than whole proteins. Protein absorption is fast-paced for whey protein, while casein is digested at a moderate rate.

Body Protein for Muscles

When researchers studied the effect of protein-rich meals on muscle protein synthesis, they found that eating 113 grams of lean beef boosted muscle protein synthesis by 50 percent. A larger portion of beef failed to increase protein production in muscles. Your muscles won't use more than 30 grams of protein consumed at one meal, according to the researcher's report in an issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology concluded that 35 grams of whey protein at one meal resulted in greater protein absorption and muscle protein synthesis than portions of 10 grams or 20 grams.

Daily Recommendations for Protein Intake

Your daily protein needs depend on your health and activity level. Women should consume 46 grams of protein daily, and men need 56 grams, as long as they’re not involved in athletic activities. For power and endurance athletes, protein recommendations range from 84 grams to 119 grams daily for men and 66 grams to 94 grams for women, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you’re trying to build muscles, you’ll stimulate 24-hour muscle protein synthesis by consuming your protein at several meals throughout the day, reports a study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition in June 2014.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.