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The Truth About Protein Absorption: How Often You Should Eat Protein to Build Muscle

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The Truth About Protein Absorption: How Often You Should Eat Protein to Build Muscle

Many people claim that the body can only absorb so much protein per meal, and that you must eat protein every few hours to build muscle. Are they right?


Many different numbers are perpetuated in this myth. Some “experts” claim you shouldn’t eat more than 40 grams of protein per meal, whereas others give lower numbers, and yet others higher.

Who’s right?

Well, as with many issues of nutrition, there’s no simple answer.

It would stand to reason that an NFL linebacker’s body deals with protein intake differently than a 120-lb weakling’s. Protein needs due to lifestyle and lean mass should influence the matter of protein metabolism, right?

Additionally, if it were true that a person can only absorb a relatively small amount of protein in one meal, then “super-dosing” daily protein needs into 2–3 meals would result in protein deficiencies. This assumption begs the question of how the human species survived the hunter-gatherer days, but the body IS incredibly adaptive.

So, how much protein can we eat and absorb in one sitting, and how often do we have to eat protein to build muscle?

The Science of Protein Absorption

In order to better evaluate the issue at hand, let’s look at what actually happens when you eat protein.

First, your stomach uses its acid and enzymes to break the protein down into its building blocks, amino acids. These amino acids are transported into the bloodstream by special cells that line the intestines and are then delivered to various parts of the body. Your body only has so many transporter cells, which limits the amount of amino acids that can be infused into your blood every hour.

This is what we’re talking about with “protein absorption”—how quickly our bodies can absorb the amino acids into our bloodstreams.

It’s widely known that the human body absorbs different proteins at different rates. According to one review, whey clocks in at 8–10 grams absorbed per hour, casein at 6.1, soy at 3.9, and egg at 1.3. These numbers aren’t completely accurate due to the complexities involved in measuring protein absorption, but they lend insight nonetheless: certain proteins are absorbed very slowly, whereas others can be quite fast.

You should also know that food substances don’t move uniformly through the digestive tract, and they don’t leave sections in the same order that they arrived in.

For instance, the presence of protein in the stomach stimulates the production of a hormone that delays “gastric emptying” (the emptying of the food from the stomach), and that slows down intestinal contractions. This causes food to move more slowly through the small intestines, where nutrients are absorbed, and this is how your body buys the time it needs to absorb the protein you eat. Carbohydrates and fats can move through and be fully absorbed while your body is still working on the protein.

The next step in protein metabolism occurs once the amino acids make it into the blood stream. Your body does various things with them, such as tissue growth and repair, and it can temporarily store (up to about 24 hours or so) excess amino acids in muscle for future needs. If there are still amino acids in the blood after doing all of the above, your body can break them down into fuel for your brain and other cells.

If that’s how your body processes proteins we eat, what’s up with the claims that it can only absorb so much in one meal?

The Problem With Fixed-Number Claims Regarding Protein Absorption

Claims that the body can only absorb so much protein in one sitting are usually based one or two things:

1. An ignorance of how food moves through the digestive system. Some people believe that all foods move through the small intestines in 2–3 hours. Thus, they believe, even if you ate even the fastest type of protein that can be absorbed at a rate of 8–10 grams per hour, you could only absorb 25–30 grams of protein in one meal. If you ate  protein that is absorbed more slowly, then you would (apparently) wind up with even fewer grams absorbed into the bloodstream.

Well, as we now know, your body is smarter than that, and regulates the speed at which protein moves through the small intestines to ensure it can absorb all of the available amino acids.

2. References to studies relating to the anabolic response to protein consumption. A study commonly cited in connection with protein absorption showed that 20 grams of post-workout protein stimulated maximum muscle protein synthesis in young men. That is, eating more than 20 grams of protein after working out did nothing more in terms of stimulating muscle growth.

The most obvious flaw in this argument is you can’t use studies on the anabolic response to protein consumption to extrapolate ideas about how much we can absorb in one sitting. Acute anabolic responses to eating protein don’t give us the whole picture. Absorption relates to the availability of amino acids over extended periods of time, which prevents muscle breakdown and provides raw materials for growth. And, as we now know, our body doesn’t just throw away all of the amino acids it can’t immediately use—it can store them for later

Further supporting this position is a study conducted by the Human Nutrition Research Center. It had 16 young women eat 79% of the day’s protein (about 54 grams) in one meal or four meals over the course of 14 days. Researchers found no difference between the groups in terms of protein synthesis or degradation. 

Furthermore, if we look at the amount of protein used in the above study relative to body weight, it comes out to about 1.17g/kg. Apply that to a man weighing 80 kilograms (176 pounds), and you get about 94 grams of protein in one sitting. While this isn’t definitive scientific proof, it’s food for thought.

Research on the style of dieting known as intermittent fasting is also relevant. This style of dieting has people fasting for extended periods, followed by anywhere from 2–8-hour “feeding windows.” One study found that eating the entire days’ worth of protein in a 4-hour window (followed by 20 hours of fasting) didn’t negatively impact muscle preservation.

Before we move on, I want to quickly address something mentioned earlier, which is the study that showed that 20 grams of post-workout protein stimulated maximum protein synthesis in young men. Don’t assume that this 20-gram number applies to everyone.

Protein metabolism is affected by several things:

  • How much muscle you have. The more you have, the more amino acids your body needs to maintain your musculature, and the more places your body can store surpluses.
  • How active you are. The more you move around, the more protein your body needs.
  • How old you are. The older you get, the more protein your body needs to maintain its muscle.
  • Your hormones. Elevated levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) stimulate muscle synthesis. If your body has high levels of these anabolic hormones, it will utilize protein better than someone that has low levels.

On the other hand, elevated levels of cortisol reduces protein synthesis and accelerates the process whereby the body breaks down amino acids into glucose (gluconeogenesis), thereby reducing the amount available for tissue generation and repair. Some people have chronically elevated cortisol levels, and this impairs protein metabolism.

So, while 20 grams of protein might be enough to stimulate maximal muscle growth in certain conditions, this won’t hold true for everyone. Some people will need more to reach the same level of synthesis, and others will be able to benefit from more protein (it will result in more protein synthesis).

The Bottom Line:
You Can Be Very Flexible With Your Protein Intake

As you can see, it’s impossible to put a cap on how much protein your body can absorb in one meal. It’s definitely a hell of a lot more than the 20–30 grams that some people claim.

You probably also noticed that protein timing isn’t as important as some people think, either. You don’t have to eat protein every 2-3 hours to maximize muscle growth or avoid going catabolic. Total intake over 24-hour periods is what really matters, not regular feedings.

While it’s smart to have a good amount of protein before and after training, break up the rest of your daily needs however you want and let your body take care of the rest.

Personally, I like to eat every few hours, but if you prefer fewer, larger meals, then don’t be afraid to load up on the protein when you eat.


What are your thoughts on protein absorption and timing? Have anything else to add? Let me know in the comments below!


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Leave a Comment!
  • Shay

    This is a very well written and extremely informative article. I have always had the question whether I was having excess protein at one sitting. The concept mentioned above should definitely go to the future editions of BLS. Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Shay! I’m really glad you liked it.

      This is actually in Muscle Myths, along with a bunch of other interesting odds and ends. :)

      • Dallas Evans

        Great article Michael. Most body builder go by the rule 2.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I’ve always believed this is a marketing ploy by muscle supplement companies to make you need to buy their products to maintain this large intake. I’ve always eaten between 140 and 180 (140 when I was around 11 stone and 180 when around 13 stone of muscle) and always made great gains. Whats your opinion on manufacturers saying 2.2 per lb of body weight ?
        Keep up the great work Michael.

        • Michael Matthews


          Yeah that’s a ridiculous amount of protein. The reason the really big guys eat that much, however, is because the drugs they’re on actually allows their bodies to use it all.

          For us natties, though, it’s just overkill.

  • Devon

    Hi Michael,
    I just stumbled onto your site and really like the way you present your information. I just got your LBS and in it you identify maximum levels of protein absorption in one sitting. Is this information that you learned and started to apply recently, or did I misread something in LBS? I understand that the industry changes quickly, and new info is coming out all the time, so when I noticed a few contradictions between the LBS book and a few of the articles I’ve had the pleasure to read on your site, I thought I’d get your take. Thanks for all the hard work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Devon!

      Yeah in BLS I give a general recommendation of not going over 80 grams of protein in one sitting simply to be on the safe side. There IS a point where your body will be wasting aminos, and the reality is eating more than that is quite uncomfortable anyway.

      Let me know if you run into anything else and I’ll clarify.

    • davort

      Thanks Devon for asking this question. I had the same dilemma since I’ve also read Mike’s advice on max amount of protein in a meal, with respect to protein absorption.

      I’m a big fan of Intermittent Fasting mostly because I find it more intuitive than eating 5-7 small meals a day (a meal every 2-3 hours).

      That being said, and having in mind that I’m a 240-lb guy, my meals often contain around 80-100 grams of protein (I usually have lunch, a PWM whey shake and dinner). So, imagine my disbelief after reading that line in BLS! :)

      • Michael Matthews

        Haha yeah that should be fine. I wanted to give a simple, safe number in BLS as there is enough for someone to think with as it is.

        • davort

          Yeah, I figured that was the case ;) Thank you Mike, you’re doing a really awesome job with both inspiring and educating us! Kudos!

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks man! I really appreciate it. :)

  • Danno

    Nice article Mike. I think you also stated in one of your books, that you should try to get some protein in every meal, which is a great tip as well.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yeah it’s good general advice for hitting high protein numbers every day. Eating 60-80 grams at a time can be a chore.

  • Matt

    Great stuff! Keep it coming Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt!

  • Kasey Milligan Sanchez

    Great article my awesome crazy Floridian friend. Keep em’ coming. Very informative!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks yo! :P

  • Mark E.

    In you article where you mention how protein synthesis is affected by several things, how do you know which factors are having the most impact? This question was specifically raised in my mind when I saw the hormone factor. (Quote)

    “Elevated levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) stimulate muscle synthesis. If your body has high levels of these anabolic hormones, it will utilize protein better than someone that has low levels.

    It would be good to know how to understand my body in these areas so as to adequately eat the proper portions. Can you elaborate more on these areas by chance?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question.

      The reality is you don’t have to worry about this as variations in levels of anabolic hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, etc. don’t make a difference until you get above and beyond physiological normal (i.e., take steroids).

      The bottom line is if you’re lifting regularly, you want to get around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

      • Mark E.

        Oh, I understand now. Keep up the great work!

        • Michael Matthews

          Great, thanks!

  • Mark E.

    our hormones. Elevated levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) stimulate muscle synthesis. If your body has high levels of these anabolic hormones, it will utilize protein better than someone that has low levels.

    The question was raised in my head. How do I know my IGF-1 levels and insulin to better understand my protein intake? As well as the other factors you had mentioned as playing a part in protein synthesis. This one stood out the most. How do I better understand my body in these areas?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry for the late reply. I missed this somehow.

      You can get your hormones tested but changes within the physiological normal won’t make a difference in the end.

      To really affect protein synthesis in a way that you would see in the gym and mirror, you need to exceed the normal physiological ranges, and that’s only accomplished with steroids.

      • anon

        or peptidessss. Available at the local Walmart (BEWARE!)

        • Michael Matthews

          Nah, GH or peptides without T is pointless.

  • Eric

    As always, great article!! Congrats!!!

    One thing that’s not very clear to me yet is that I’ve always heard out that if we eat too much protein, what the body doesn’t absorb in aminos (after that 24-hour period ‘in stock’) turns into fat storage. I didn’t find that in your article (correct me if I’m wrong). So is that fake someway? The protein will never turns into fat storage in the process?

    Thanks :>

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Eric!

      The energy cost of turning ingested protein into body fat is VERY high. It’s a non-issue.

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  • Harriet

    Thanks for a nice article.

    “whey clocks in at 8–10 grams absorbed per hour, casein at 6.1, soy at 3.9, and egg at 1.3″ ?

    Is the missing unit here an hour? Meaning 8-10 g casein absorbs in 6.1 hours, or 6.1 grams of casein absorbs per one hour?

    Can you give a list/table of different proteins and absorbing times? I am interested also in hemp, bean and rice (I cannot use anything made of milk).

    • Michael Matthews

      The body can absorb about 8-10 grams of whey protein per hour, 6.1 grams of soy protein per hour, and 1.3 grams of egg protein per hour.

      Regarding the vegan sources of protein, check out this article to learn more:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-protein-powder-for-women/

  • David Tripp

    What about complete versus incomplete proteins (those that contain all the essential amino acids versus those that don’t)? What percentage of complete proteins in your daily total protein intake is optimal for building muscle? And would timing be important there too?

    • Michael Matthews

      This is a myth. All forms of protein are “complete.” Some just have higher or lower amounts of specific amino acids.

      You can read more about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-protein-powder-for-women/

      • David Tripp

        Thanks, Mike, very interesting. So let me ask a slightly different question… We all know the best whole foods for supplying your daily protein are lean beef, chicken, turkey, fish, dairy and eggs, right? But when you’re counting your protein intake in grams for each day, are you including the smaller amounts of protein found in other whole foods including fruits and veggies (and legumes and grains)? Or are you counting only the protein from the best sources such as the whole foods listed above and quality protein supplements?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yes, those are great sources of protein.

          Yup, I do count protein in other sources, but honestly 95% of my protein is coming from animal sources so the plant proteins are just incidental, really.

      • nucleon

        While I agree with a lot of what you say, i’d like to point out that all forms of protein are most definitely not “complete”. There are 20 different amino acids that make up all proteins, in different combinations. 9 of the 20 are referred to as “essential”. This means that the body cannot synthesise them and so they have consumed from one’s diet. The other 11 are non-essential, because our bodies can make them. Some proteins contain some amount of all 9 essential amino acids. This applies to almost all proteins from animal sources. Other proteins, often from plant sources, do NOT contain all 9 essential amino acids, and are thus referred to as “incomplete”. If your diet contains only incomplete protein sources, you MAY end up with deficiencies of certain amino acids. The result is that your body may be unable to make those proteins that contain the amino acid or acids that you’re not eating enough of.

        There’s a way around this , however. If you eat 2 different incomplete protein sources, whereby one lacks amino acid A while the other lacks amino acid B, then a combination of the 2 proteins will still yield all amino acids. A combination of 2 such proteins is called “complementary”. It’s the reason why vegetarians don’t necessarily have protein deficiencies. It’s standard advice given to parents of children in poorer countries where meat is expensive, so that kids can still get all essential amino acids, from cheaper, plant sources. A typical example is a cereal-legume combination eg rice and beans.

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks for the comment!

          The “complete” and “incomplete” protein myth was debunked by MIT years ago but it still persists. I recommend you read their study:


          It’s been 100% disproven that certain plant proteins are “incomplete” and must be combined to form “complete” proteins.

          What IS true is that certain types of proteins have better amino acid profiles than others–are higher in essential amino acids–than others, but none are completely without.

          • Dr. Protease

            Hi Mike,

            Great article, but you misinterpreted it. The article states quite clearly that combinations of “complementary proteins” are necessary to prevent malnutrition. Their remarkable finding was that these complements don’t need to be eaten at the same time. That was the myth.

            So, it’s a myth that you need to eat rice with beans together. However, it’s still true that a diet of just rice with no legumes or animal proteins will cause malnutrition. Rice may have some lysiene, like you said, but not enough. So it’s not 100% “incomplete,” but it’s still insufficient to live off of, which is what matters.

            Of course, anyone reading this probably doesn’t have to worry about incomplete proteins because they aren’t in a developing nation where kids may actually be at risk of eating one type of food only.

            So I wouldn’t say this MIT study “debunks” incompleteness, it just means the terms shouldn’t be taken literally (and that “incomplete” proteins can be spread across a day’s meals, which probably is of interest to readers).

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks for the comment!

            I think the more salient point is the requisite amino acids are present–they’re not completely missing. Or am I missing something?

          • Adam VanWert

            Michael, I absolutely agree with you. I’m a professor of physiology and pharmacology, and plants and animals have the full spectrum of amino acids, they may vary in ratios but that’s all. All amino acids are used in important cellular functions and therefore it is very unlikely to find a source that is absolutely missing one of them. By the way, your article is absolutely spot on! It’s rare to find someone soo in touch with the real science. Everyone should follow your advice. Does your book have preview pages online somewhere to look at before purchasing?

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks Adam!

            Yup Amazon gives previews and I also give away free chapters here on my site. You can find the opt-ins on the book pages themselves.


      check the B.V. Of the protein product. There are better proteins than others. Beware of “proprietary blends”

      • Michael Matthews

        Very true

  • Mike

    Cheers Mike! Good stuff, you’re dynamite!
    -Mike from Finland

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks MIke! :)

  • Fahim Khan.

    Michael, thank you for clearing about Protein intake per meal. I was confused over this for past few months. Now I understand it much better. :)

    • Michael Matthews

      YW! I’m glad I could help!

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  • Derrek

    What’s your take on intermittent fasting to lose weight? Thanks!

    • Derrek

      Sorry, I just found your article on it. Thanks!

      • Michael Matthews

        No worries!

  • Douglas Proud

    Mike, I’ve asked before but it looks like here that you’re telling me that I can only get bigger by taking steroids??? As I said in my earlier posts,,,,,,,,,,I lift 3-4 x a week but I can;t seem to gain more size. I’m doing the protein and vits but is this it!!???

    • Michael Matthews

      Lol what? I never recommend that someone take steroids.

      If you’re not gaining weight/muscle, it’s simply because you’re training and/or eating incorrectly…

  • Douglas Proud

    Quick response…………I’ve gone to less reps, heavier weights and less time in between. Upped my protein intake and working until I can’t lift. Think that’ll do it???

    • Michael Matthews

      Work in the 4-6 rep range, take 2-3 minutes of rest in between sets, and make sure you eat enough and you will make gains.

      You should also check out my book Bigger Leaner Stronger. It goes over everything you need to know really…

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  • António Alves

    Hey Mike,

    here you said like you do many times that it is hard to train with intensity. What about having a low carb diet but eating some carbohydrates before and after your workout?

    And if yes, how much would you think is ok?
    Right now I have a low carb diet due to some health issues, but the doctor does allow me to eat some carbs during the day.
    Do you think that 1 or 2 small bananas plus the usual protein shake after the workout and some whole wheat crackers before the workout is a good option?

    • Michael Matthews


      Good question. Low-carb diets result in chronically low glycogen levels, so unfortunately just having some carbs before and after training won’t cut it.

      If you’re going low-carb for health reasons, stick with it and I would recommend having about 30 grams before training, and pretty much all the rest after training.

  • http://www.facebook.com/timthepierce Tim Pierce

    so… to some up, just eat all the protein you want as you want and roughly your body will do the rest.

    Thanks F for that

    • Michael Matthews

      Basically. :)

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  • noorbindra

    can i have protein intake about 50 grams along with other micro nutrients found in like oats, peanut butter, nuts, almonds blended all together with milk powder?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, sounds delicious.

  • Alan

    Mike, can you clarify one thing for me. If after a workout I take only protein (whey powder) without any carbs or fat, how can I be sure that the body will use the protein as the source for building/repairing the muscles, and not as an energy source? After the workout the body is starving to get energy…

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I wouldn’t necessarily say the body is starving for energy after a workout, and amino acids are used preferentially for tissue repair before they are used to create glucose.

      The bottom line is having just protein after working out is totally fine.

  • chris1234

    Have you done any articles with in depth look at cortisol? I know sleep and not overtraining help keep cortisol from interfering. Any color you could add or direct to a link with more??
    Thanks for what you do.

    • Michael Matthews

      No I haven’t, but I’m going to do one on cortisol and weight loss soon.

      Yes, getting enough sleep and not overtraining are the two major ways to keep your cortisol in a healthy range. There are some natural substances that can help as well, which I will be including in my multivitamin.

  • Diunte

    If I want to increase my muscle size, do I lift heavy 6-10 reps or 4 to 8 reps?

  • Nachelov

    Mike, in your “15 Recipes” book on your newsletter, you talk about how we should eat protein every 3-5 hours. Guess the book was written before the researches found in this article? ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha yep! Thanks for bringing that up–I will fix it!

  • Syed Own

    Short concise and well presented, and perfect article; thank you mate.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Syed!

      • tigerfire

        So I’m pretty new to weight training and protein and just wanted to know if I’m on the right track. After my morning workout I eat a serving of Kashi go lean (13g protein) with a serving of whey protein powder (30g) in one serving of soy milk (8g). I’m 6’1 215lb male. is this a good start to my day?

  • Pingback: MFL Podcast #5: Best protein powder, signs of overtraining, laws for happy living, and more… | Muscle For Life()

  • Sergio

    great article, very goo presentation of the idea Michael !

    • Michael Matthews


  • Sergio

    and thank you !

    • Michael Matthews


  • PlainTalkToronto

    Great article but left me with one question …… does this in anyway undermine the BV value of different proteins? I am assuming that the BV values still remain true of various protein sources.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! BV isn’t really an issue unless you rely primarily on plant-based proteins.

  • simon turay

    You’re the man Mike! I really like how you present your material. Everything is referenced and in a logical order.

    I also like the way you acknowledged Nachelov’s comment – it shows great pragmatism and character.

    Keep up the good work

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I really appreciate it. :)

  • Marcia Thomas Howard

    What about Hydrolyzed Collagen?

    • Michael Matthews

      Haven’t looked into it. My guess is overhyped BS. :P It’s really expensive, heh.

      • Marcia Thomas Howard

        I’m taking it and I love it. I have fibromyalgia and it is actually helping me with that pain. I can lift weights again. Before taking Hydrolyzed Collagen I would wake up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain after lifting weights (due to the Fibro). Now I just have the normal after lifting muscle disconfort…the good pain.

        • Michael Matthews

          Wow, interesting! I haven’t looked into it. I’ll have to see what kind of research is out there…

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  • AM

    Thanks for this article, great job!

    • Michael Matthews


  • Pingback: MFL Podcast #5: Best protein powder, signs of overtraining, laws for happy living, and more… | Muscle For Life()

  • vijay

    Sir.last one year i am doing weight traning but i am not geting result still my mesuerment same

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  • Kyle Saikaley

    FYI, you’ve used the fallacy “begs the question” incorrectly. You would be better off changing it to “raises the question”.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question#Modern_usage

    • Michael Matthews

      Not referring to the logical fallacy, just the dictionary definition:

      beg the question

      1.(of a fact or action) raise a question or point that has not been dealt with; invite an obvious question.

  • Ayush K Singh

    Why consider on a 24 hour daily basis and not on a Weekly Basis ? Our body does not count days or weeks..does it?

    • Michael Matthews

      When talking calories yes you can work in longer blocks of time if you’d like (24-hour blocks are easier though) but when we’re looking at protein research the time periods used in studies matter.

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  • Tuuta

    Hey Mike freaking love the article. Makes a lot of sense. Just a quick question, I’ve been on IF for about a month and i was wondering if you think it’s healthy to get all my protein (200 grams) in the span of about 6 hours. Sometimes I’ll eat a big meals which contain 100 grams of protein in one sitting. I’ve read some articles that eating so much protein in one sitting is very bad for my kidneys. Any thoughts or ideas?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! 100 grams in one sitting is probably fine. Personally I would cap it there though. Some people stuff in 150+ grams per meal and that might be a bit much.

  • Cory Krigbaum

    “First, your stomach uses its acid and enzymes to break the protein down into its building blocks,amino acids. These amino acids are transported into the bloodstream by special cells that line the intestines and are then delivered to various parts of the body. ”

    I read an article where it said something very similar to what you’re saying… enzymes break down protein. Because of that, I started taking Enzymes as a supplement as directed.

    However, they didn’t mention anything about “special cells”. Did I waste my money on enzymes? (When taking it, I did notice I was hungrier faster– maybe it was a placebo effect). Will enzymes help the absorption of protein?


    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly I haven’t looked much into supplementation with digestive enzymes so I can’t really advise one way or another.

      I’ll add it to my “to research” list. :)

  • fadster

    There is a lady claiming the opposite but she doesn’t cite the research!


    “Turns out that it takes 1.5 hours for viscous liquids (e.g. a whey protein shake) to pass through the section of the gut that can actually absorb it. But that’s not the breaking news. Here’s the big story. The maximum rate that whey protein can be absorbed is about 8-10 grams per hour.”

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s what I say in this article and cite a study?

      • Isa

        Thanks for that great article Michael…

        Then why some supplement companies uses high protein than 30g ?

        For example: a very famous supplement like ProComplex from Optimum Nutrition has got 60g of protein, saying that the body will observe maximum protein of 30g only will make the other 50% is just waste of money!

        Another famous supplement company that makes high protein I have observed people buying its products is Ultimate Nutrition…Muscle juice is cotaining around 56g of protein!


        Why on earth these top selling supplement companies make this high protein value while the body will maximum absorb 30g only?



        • Michael Matthews

          Because your body is able to “hold onto” protein the small intestines for quite some time to absorb it all. It doesn’t waste everything over 30 g.

  • Saib

    If i wake up at night, is takin a protein shake benefitial in any way to recovery, or will it slow down fat loss due to leaving a fasted state?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nah I would just have some slow-digesting protein before bed.

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  • EFJONE .

    Lets say 100g of breast chicken we get the amount of 30g of protein. So, in my macros i should count 30g? Or my body synthesizes just 70% per example? Thanks for your time!

    • Michael Matthews

      Count 30g

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    Unless your using P.E.D. Your not going to eat like an IFBB pro.
    Ive been training now for 25years and your body is an individualized machine. Only you know how your genetic predisposition to micro intake and training differs from others. Do you have 6-pack of abs without doing cardio? Your sum total of all chemical processes in your body “metabolism” processes a buffet meal different than an obese person. Be honest with yourself on how hard your workout with free weights and eat protein until you start passing more stool than usual then you reached your threshold. FAT floats and proteins sink,yes its a bit gross but you can tell how efficient your body is by following a low glycemic diet with high protein and watch your stool change and use ketosis strips. Follow a REAL NATURAL bodybuilders program who is closest to your body type:ENDO,ECTO,MESOMORPH,and height/ideal weight.
    If you want to have a great,healthy body you need help from someone who hasnt used anabolics of H.G.H,H.C.G.,IGF-1,insulin,ETC
    Get into the gym…ITS YOUR SET!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment!

  • KC Claussen

    Hi Mike,

    This may be a little off topic but reading the other comments, I’m not the only one off topic. This is regarding the triggering of insulin release post-workout. I’ve read that insulin triggers fat storage except immediately after a workout when it works to cram glucose and nutrients into muscle cells to replace diminished/depleted glycogen. I’ve seen lots of recommendations for gummy bears or pixie stix to trigger the insulin release post workout. So, my question is this, if it takes 1.5 hours for your post-workout shake to hit the small intestine where absorption begins, what’s the point of triggering the insulin release if the nutrients are not even absorbed yet, and what is the best time to have a dose of glucose to trigger it’s release?

    Thanks for sharing your time, experience and knowledge.


    • Michael Matthews
      • KC Claussen

        Thank you for your reply. Two excellent articles! Perhaps I should have given some background information along with my question. I’m 64 y/o, I’ve been back into weight training for 5 months and while there have been positive changes, (better definition, less body fat, increased strength, all on the list of goals when I began) However, another of my goals was to also gain weight and increase mass, that simply has not happened and I’m searching for answers. Of course I can gain weight. When I do, it’s as fat. As I lose the weight, my muscle mass decreases as much or more than my body fat. Simply put, I’m stuck and have been for a couple months and it’s frustrating. I know I’m an old fart and can’t expect the results I got 20 years ago when I was doing this, but come on. My workouts are intense, 2hrs daily including a cardio session after lifting, maybe even too intense for my age. I feel my diet and supplementation are sound, I aim to ingest about 200gms of protein daily, some days more, some days less. This article


        tells me my old muscle cells are more resistant to the anabolic effects of insulin and I was thinking if I could trigger the release of a higher level it may overcome the resistance. It also tells me that carbs blunt protein synthesis in the elderly (sheesh, I’m in denial, it hurts to admit that’s where I am), tells me I need more leucine and BCAA’s and as you mentioned in your excellent articles, more protein than the average guy.

        I’m taking a two week break next week, one trainer suggested that may be just what I need. When I get back, I’m going to change things up again and try just 3 workouts a week to see if longer recovery makes a difference for me. I WILL achieve my goals!!!

  • gabriel

    Hi, thanks for the article
    I have a question , maybe you could help. I currently weight 252 pounds and trying to reach 190 pounds. I’m doing weights 4 times a week and cardio twice a day 20 minutes am and pm. How much protein should i consume a day???
    Thanks, hope you can help me out

    • Michael Matthews

      YW! Great on what you’re doing. Check this out:


      • gabriel

        Thanks, im getting your book!!!!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks! LMK what you think!

          • gabriel,azul1981

            Im back lol
            I just got your book on the playstore, im kind of confuse, english is not my first language so i think i got something wrong , on the fatloss part , i did my calculations from the article and i should be eating. 2300 cal a day after subtracting the 500 then you said after every 15 pounds to take 200 off, but this would have me eating less then 1700 cal after losing 45 pounds and still having to lose 25 more pounds. Isn’t this to low??
            My stats are
            5. 11 height and 33 age
            255 pounds(i already lost 12 i was267)
            30% bodyfat( i was 33% im using those machines lol i just order the calibers)
            My polar loop says im burning 3500 cal a day walking 15000 steps

          • Michael Matthews

            Hey! Check this out:


            It will be simpler for you!

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  • Abbas khan

    hello mike i have a simple question dear that for how long should i use protien ??? i mean can i use it for example 5 years or 10 years or protein usage has its limit period of time

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! It has to go bad at some point I’d think. Check the expiration date?

  • BD

    No ones muscles have the capacity to store amino acids- where are you getting your information???

  • Veronica

    Thank you for this, I prefer fewer and larger meals. I have a guy in the gym full of his bro science try and tell me that I should only take in 27g every 3 hours and I usually debate w him, but i didn’t really have any studies to back me up. I could only talk common sense about those that practice IF and cultures or time eras where people ate when there was an abundance of food/ proteins (arctic climates) -Veronica

    • Michael Matthews

      Lol yeah that’s a common misconception.

      Ironically separating your daily protein intake into several smaller meals IS better for keeping protein synthesis rates elevated but we aren’t sure how much this actually affects net muscle gain over time…

  • Adam

    Mike you’re the man bro! Just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work and for those of you reading this that are contemplating getting Mikes book Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, I read it and I highly recommend it. In fact it was so informative, I lent it to my friend and he loved it, and then he lent it to another 1 of our friends and he loved it, and now I can’t even get it back! Lol! Keep up the hard work my dude we all appreciate it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man I really appreciate it! You rock. :) Let me know how everything goes!

      • Adam

        Was wondering something… Do you agree with the study showing that your body is at maximum protein synthesis 24 hours after an intense workout? Was just curious what your thoughts were on the matter.

  • Darien

    As we all can tell, he isnt using the right stuff, the whey that he claims is “made from hormone free cows” has made his abs completely offset.he has like 4 and 1/2 abs and they arent even worked properly. if you guys want something worth your time and money check out Herbalife. Branched chain amino acids that make it easier for your body to absorb them. I’m living proof of the products, and my abs are chiseled, and aligned correctly.

  • Liahnnah

    If this article is right, then casein has no use…

    But then again… in your answer to what Saib posted 4 months ago you said “Nah I would just have some slow-digesting protein before bed.”

    That answer is a bit confusing after reading your article, since, from what I understood, If I eat my daily recommended amount of protein in my through-out-the-day-meals then I have all the protein I need to prevent catabolism during the night. If that’s so, then why everybody (even scientific articles on muscle growth) recommend casein before bed?

    • Lhiannah

      Correction: I didn’t mean “the recommended amount of protein”. I meant a little bit more than that (in order for the excess to be stored for 24h like you said), so… if in the middle of my sleep my muscles were to begin “digesting themselves”, those extra amino acids that were supposedly stored for backup would do their job. Right? In that case… Casein only makes sense if you think that the amount of protein intake during the day was not enough to garantee that some of it was stocked for later use.

      Sorry for the big posts… Thanks!

      • Michael Matthews

        Casein has a use. It’s a good source of protein and it’s slow-burning, which is why it’s a common pre-sleep protein. I prefer food for this though (low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt).

        You won’t lose muscle in your sleep. Growth and recovery can’t occur without aminos though.

        Casein can be used for any protein needs though.

        • Dawn Iamnottelling

          Yeah I heard about that Casein good stuff..Helps keep you full too…

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah it does.

  • Mr. O

    Speaking about protein and timing, I have a question:
    In his book “The 24 Hour Body”, Timothy Ferris claims that eating protein within 30 minutes of getting up helps speed up fat loss. Is there any truth in this?

    • Michael Matthews

      No. Ignore everything in that book and you’ll be better for it.

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  • Dawn Iamnottelling

    I have a couple questions? I weight 125 and I am 5’8 I workout 5 days a week doing weight training..I want to add more protein to my diet..One can I eat the protein in stead of doing the shakes? Or do the shakes absorb better then the food? and how much protein should I eat a day…I been told my almost my weight I been told 50 grams..I am so confused and also with the protein.I been told I don’t need to do the shakes if I eat the amount of protein..I heard the protein shakes help with building the muscles and help with soreness..That’s why I am wondering if I should start doing the protein shakes..Thanks…

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing.

      Yeah you can eat food instead of using powders.

      Check this out on how much protein to eat:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Dawn Iamnottelling

        Thanks Michael so much..It was trying me crazy lol…I wanted to try to get a little bigger ( just arms and shoulders) but the guys said at the gym I had to gain weight so forget that.. :-) I want to be lean and tone.So I am happy just to maintain now but just want to make sure I am feeding my muscles while I am tearing them when I am lifting..I will check the site out.. yes talk soon!!!

        • Dawn Iamnottelling

          So wow I thought it was just weight its got to do with how much I work out to..Well I am off to the gym now I will have to figure it out later…I work out 5 days a week about 2 to 3 hours..I have to get my calculator out..lol

          • Michael Matthews

            Great! Let me know how it goes!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha no problem. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

          • Dawn Iamnottelling

            hehe I am silly…My arms don’t look to bad… I don’t think anyway lol Now another question I want to do the Casein but I am lactose and gluten free I can’t find a powder in that form do you know any?

          • Dawn Iamnottelling


          • Michael Matthews

            Ah yeah you look great. Hmm I would recommend egg protein instead.

          • Dawn Iamnottelling

            Thanks I will look into that now..lol I am laughing cause you don’t know what I been going through..I did shoulders yesterday and today gonna do arms and I will do some of them close-grip benching, and barbell curling,..I am always mixing things up…Thanks again…

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha cool. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

          • Dawn Iamnottelling
          • Michael Matthews

            Yup! Get chocolate though. Vanilla tastes like soap.

          • Dawn Iamnottelling

            Finally!!!!! Soap..oh cool then I get drink my protein and blow bubbles..haha Sorry I am a silly girl :-P I will get the chocolate thanks again..

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha np :)

          • Alba


          • Guest

            I want to stay that size but big up my shoulders and arms…

          • Dawn Iamnottelling

            I want to stay this size but not sure if I can without gaining weight to gain what I want to gain which is bigger arms and shoulders (just a little) and was wondering if protein will help with that (without gaining weight) and help with the soreness…But I can’t find one that is lactose free and gluten free and don’t have artificial sweeteners and low in calories…sorry for being a pain..I been driving everyone crazy hehe

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah if you ate around maintenance and worked on some heavy military pressing, close-grip benching, and barbell curling, you could add size while staying lean.


          • Dawn Iamnottelling

            great!!! thanks yes I been doing them!!! Thanks a million!!!! your awesome!! :-)

          • Michael Matthews

            Great! Thanks! Keep it up!

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  • jimmie

    A quick question, mike. I have heard that i should eat protein just as soon as i wake to keep my muscles in an anabolic state. Since my muscles store amino acids for an extended peroid of time (up to 24 hours, i believe) can i just eat a good protein meal an hour or two before bed and not have to worry about eating just as soon as i wake, even if i sleep for 8 to 10 hours? Won’t there be plenty of amino acids for my muscles to use in repairing themselves while i sleep? Also, i’ll make sure to eat plenty of protein during the day as well, not just at night. Thanks.

  • ElizaHaisy

    Every cell and organ in your body needs protein, but taking in too much of it can cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. You could also develop more serious problems, as excessive protein leads to a buildup of amino acids, insulin or ammonia in your blood stream, according to Australian researchers who published a review paper in “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” in 2006. For optimal health, get only the recommended amount of protein from nutritious, low-fat, low-cholesterol food sources.

    Your body can only use a certain amount of protein each day. If you take in too much protein, you may gain weight. Each gram of protein has 4 calories. If you take in 100 grams of protein, but your body can only use 50 grams of it, your body will store the extra 200 calories’ worth of protein as fat. Doing this daily can cause you to take in 1,400 extra calories per week, resulting in a weight gain of almost 2 pounds per month.

    An excessive protein intake can be harmful to your liver, brain and nervous system. When you eat protein, your body produces ammonia, a toxin that your liver makes harmless, according to Medline Plus. Eating too much protein over a long period of time can cause your liver to become overworked, allowing ammonia and other toxic substances to build up in your bloodstream. This can lead to hepatic encephalopathy, a condition marked by a decline in brain and nervous system function.

    Many high-protein foods, particularly from animal sources, contain an abundance of cholesterol, which contributes to the development of hardened arteries that can lead to serious medical conditions, such as heart attack and stroke. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends limiting your cholesterol intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, but a 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak has 126 milligrams of cholesterol and half a roasted chicken breast has 83 milligrams of cholesterol. Eating too much animal protein can cause you to exceed the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s guidelines, putting you at risk for dangerous conditions.

    The Institute of Medicine recommends that protein-rich foods represent 10 to 35 percent of the calories you take in. The average woman should get about 46 grams of protein a day and men should get about 56 grams of protein daily. Active people need more protein than sedentary people, so if you engage in moderate to vigorous exercise on a regular basis, talk to your doctor to see if you should increase your protein intake.

  • bud knowitall

    this comment is very late so if you would get back to me that would be great, i have always been a lil confused if i consume 180 grams of protein a day via whole grains,complex carbs, fruits, veggies, protein shakes, and whole meat and diary products do i actually consume all 180 grams i have seen some videos saying for example if i consume a 50 gram protein shake, i may be only getting 27 grams or something to that affect. your thoughts? also do you agree i gram per lbm to gain size and strenth, obviously in a caloric surplus as well

    • Michael Matthews

      The quality of protein does matter but you’re eating high-quality stuff, so you’re fine.

      Your body can handle a lot more than 50 grams at a time.

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Guest

    I have a question. I bought your book for women on thinner leaner and stronger. Great book btw. I’m having trouble meeting my macro numbers. I’m eating too much protein. I’m 105 lbs and my heigh is 5’2″. I find that because of the whey shake before the workout and after working out plus casein before bed, my numbers are sometimes 50 grams above what I should be taking. My overall calories are still within the numbers I should be consuming so that’s not the problem. I’m just worried it might not be healthy for me. Your book states 1.2grams per pound. I sometimes workout at night after work, say 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Should I take a whey shake before or skip it and only take it after. What about casein?

    thank you.

    • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Hmm it sounds like you need to do a little meal planning:


      If I were you I would do a scoop of whey before and after and then 20 g protein with lunch, 20 g with dinner, and 20g before bed.


  • Z

    Nice article buddy.

    • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews


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