Three New Facts About Protein That You Need to Know

Recently, there’s been a flurry of research on the optimal intake of protein that I have found to be quite interesting.

To save you time, I’ve gleaned three important findings from these studies and present them here.

1) The RDA for protein may be too low.

The current RDA for protein intake in healthy people is set at 0.8 grams of high quality protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg).

So, if you weigh 150 lbs, which is 68 kg, then you would need 54 grams of protein each day (0.8 x 68 = 54).

But if you are training for an endurance event or wanting to build more muscle mass, you need more protein. Yes, we already knew that – what’s new is that the RDA may need to be even higher than what was previously thought AND it may need to be higher for older individuals.

Before we go any further, let me explain why this is important. Aside from all the cool stuff that protein does for our bodies, which you can read about here, protein plays a huge role in augmenting muscle protein synthesis (MPS), especially as we age and start experiencing sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass and function).

Our muscle mass is regulated by a balance between MPS and muscle protein breakdown (MPB). When MPS exceeds MPB for long and frequent periods of time, muscle growth or “hypertrophy” is the result. Conversely, when there is a net negative protein balance, where MPB exceeds MPS, a reduction in muscle mass occurs, also known as atrophy.

Lest you think that MPS is only important for body-builders, consider that muscle mass, strength, and function are vital to recovery from trauma, critical illness, maintaining normal glucose metabolism, resting energy expenditure, and independent mobility. Thus, protein amount, quality, and daily distribution are important for everyone.

So how much more protein do you need to maintain or build muscle mass? The studies are suggesting 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg/day as the formula for estimating your protein needs of young adults and 1.4 – 1.6 g/kg/day for older adults.

BUT you should NOT consume all or most of that protein in one meal. This brings me to the 2nd important tidbit of helpful info on protein:

2) Distribute your protein requirement into 3-4 meals and 2-3 snacks. Many people eat little or no breakfast, a small lunch, and then a big protein-filled dinner. This is not good, folks.

Protein is made up of amino acids (more on that later) and it appears that when large amounts of protein are consumed in one meal, the excess amino acids are “deaminated” (stripped of the nitrogen component in their molecular structure) and excreted. Buh-bye amino acids!

To prevent this from happening, it’s better to spread your protein out into 3 or 4 meals per day. This is because a “meal protein threshold” needs to be reached every four hours or so, to stimulate MPS and to maintain skeletal muscle mass and function.

How much do you need at each meal? Several researchers have suggested the following formulas:

0.25 g/kg/meal for younger adults (about 20 – 30 grams of protein/meal).

0.40 g/kg/meal for older adults (about 30 – 40 grams of protein/meal.

Sometimes it’s hard to get that much protein in a meal. To make it easier, some researchers are suggesting a pre-sleep protein supplement or meal. The idea is that MPB may occur over night, especially if you don’t eat for more than 12 hours, so to prevent a long period where MPS rates are low, eating a high-protein snack prior to bedtime may do the trick.

Dr. Stuart Phillips at McMaster University explains this concept nicely in this neat little promotional video for a protein product called Ascent (see below). I am NOT promoting this product (or any product) but I thought the video did a good job of explaining why it may be a good idea to have a high protein snack before bed.

You could have Greek yogurt, eggs, or a drink made with any whey, casein, or soy isolate protein powders to get the same result.

3) Proteins with a large amount of the amino acid leucine stimulate MPS more than proteins with a lower amount.

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are referred to as “the building blocks of protein”. One of these building blocks is leucine, a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA). Leucine appears to have a larger effect on muscle-building than others BCAA’s because it triggers a pathway called “mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1” (mTORC1) which is necessary for starting the MPS process.

It appears that the quantity of leucine reaching the bloodstream is important, because the mTORC1 pathway is only initiated when a critical level of leucine is reached, suggesting there might be a “leucine trigger”. However, more is not better because excess amounts of leucine are simply oxidized or deaminated and excreted.

The studies are showing that the ideal amount of leucine is 2.2 – 3.0 grams of leucine per meal.

So, what protein foods are high in leucine?  Whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, cottage and ricotta cheese, meat, and greek yogurt to name a few. However, there is a calorie cost to some leucine-containing foods.

For example, you would have to eat the following amount of food to get 2.5 grams of leucine:

Whey protein isolate – 1 ounce, 92 calories

Soy protein isolate – 1 ounce, 125 calories

Greek yogurt – 1.1 cups, 143 calories

Eggs – 4.6, 321 calories

Top Round beef – 1.3 servings, 391 calories

Raw peanuts – 5 servings, 876 calories

Whole wheat bread – 12.8 servings, 3462 calories

Should you take leucine supplements? You can but that’s s an expensive way to get leucine. The cheapest and easiest way to get leucine in your diet is via whey or soy protein isolate protein powders.

One more caveat: This only works if you are in “energy balance“, which means you are getting enough total calories each day. If you are dieting, the leucine may be used to replace the muscle that you are probably losing while dieting (more on this in a future article). Thus, protein and leucine needs are even higher for dieters.

Of course, research is ongoing and there is more to learn but for now, your best bet is to consume at least 20 grams of protein at each meal and to include leucine-containing foods as often as possible.

Have questions? Leave them in the comment box and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.

Rock on!


Wolfe RJ, Miller SL. The recommended dietary allowance of protein: a misunderstood concept. JAMA 2008;299:3891-2893.

Wolfe RR. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:475-482.

Snijders T et al. Protein ingestion before sleep increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy young men. J Nutr. 2015;145:1178-1184.

Mamerow MM et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in health adults. J Nutr. 2014:144:876-880.

Morton RW et al. Nutritional interventions to augment resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Front Physiol. 2015;6:245.

Phillips SM et al. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab.2016:41:565-572.

Deutz NE et al. Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging: recommendations from the ESPEN Expert Group. Clin Nutr. 2014;33:929-936.









  2. Edwena July 3, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Love this post! Will share with my clients 🙂

  3. Ginger Hultin July 4, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Really fascinating! Great post –

  4. Great post – I think spreading the protein out is key! Most people save it for later, and forget breakfast and snacks!

  5. Danielle Cushing July 5, 2017 at 6:29 am

    So informative! I need more protein as it is and now I need MORE?! I have work to do.

  6. Lisa Hugh July 5, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Great resource and protein is so important and sometimes misunderstood

  7. This is a great post; especially love the tips on spreading protein out. Will bookmark so I can share with my clients!

  8. hxitokhj February 4, 2021 at 8:04 am

    cialis coupon walgreens – cialis over the counter
    cialis 20mg cost walmart
    cialis samples [url=]order cialis online[/url] discount cialis

  9. frolep rotrem February 6, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Outstanding post, you have pointed out some wonderful points, I likewise believe this s a very wonderful website.

  10. hmjfiagz February 9, 2021 at 11:29 am

    when will cialis go generic – buy generic cialis online
    cialis generic best price
    cialis from canada [url=]generic cialis online[/url] canadian pharmacy cialis

  11. cfawcmkr February 11, 2021 at 5:05 am

    buy cialis online safely – buy generic cialis
    discount cialis
    canadian cialis [url=]cialis price walmart[/url] buy cials online

  12. nqmfojox February 14, 2021 at 2:54 am

    tadalafil 20 mg – cialis 20 mg
    cialis online buy
    cialis coupon walmart [url=]cialis for men[/url] cheapest cialis

  13. 카지노사이트 February 18, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    I was very happy to see everyone again. It’s always a pleasure to come here. Every body is happy to meet other students. They are very nice with me. I always keep many good memories about my trips in Rotorua.
    It will help you design your personal MBA which will teach you more than any formal setting out there. Learn to read people, master the art of communication and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you figure out what drives you, use that power to help people.”

  14. 바카라 February 18, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Write great comments on popular blogs, and your blog will grow. Why, it’s so easy even a caveman can do it!
    And it’s true — comments can be powerful. A great comment can land you on the radar of a popular blogger — the kind of super-connected influencer who can accelerate your success.

  15. 카지노사이트 February 18, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    Nobody tells you how to comment on blogs. You aren’t sure what a great comment looks like.
    Is it a comment that shovels heaps of praise onto the author? Or one that argues a persuasive alternative view? Or one that simply thanks the blogger for their insights?

  16. Lisavut March 3, 2021 at 4:59 am
  17. Lisavut March 3, 2021 at 8:13 am
  18. Amyvut March 3, 2021 at 2:13 pm
  19. Amyvut March 4, 2021 at 10:28 am
  20. Boxhmj March 5, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    buy tadalafil online safely – tadalafil buy online tadalafil 20 mg

  21. Lisavut March 6, 2021 at 4:20 am
  22. Kiavut March 6, 2021 at 4:10 pm
  23. Lisavut March 7, 2021 at 2:23 am
  24. Sharon Castaneda March 7, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Ahaa, its nice discussion concerning this post at this place at this webpage,
    I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  25. Kiavut March 7, 2021 at 11:49 pm
  26. Nancy Espinoza March 8, 2021 at 7:34 am

    I create a leave a response whenever I appreciate a post on a
    website or I have something to add to the discussion.
    Usually it is a result of the passion displayed in the post I browsed.

    And on this article The Growing Trends in Content
    Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking ?

    Lorelle on WordPress. I was moved enough to post a thought 🙂 I
    actually do have 2 questions for you if you usually do not mind.
    Could it be simply me or does it look as if like a few of the comments
    come across as if they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And,
    if you are writing on additional sites, I would like
    to follow everything fresh you have to post.

    Would you make a list the complete urls of all your communal sites like your twitter feed,
    Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  27. Karen Furtado March 8, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be
    happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest
    you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.

    I wish to read more things about it!

  28. Beverly Roberts March 9, 2021 at 2:02 am

    Hey there! I’ve been reading your web site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give
    you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep
    up the fantastic job!

  29. Alina Chandler March 9, 2021 at 3:21 am

    Wow, this paragraph is fastidious, my younger sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to let know

  30. Amyvut March 9, 2021 at 3:50 am
  31. Kiavut March 9, 2021 at 4:43 am
  32. Lisavut March 9, 2021 at 3:49 pm
  33. Fred Freeman March 10, 2021 at 1:33 am

    Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much
    about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few % to force the message home a
    little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog.
    A great read. I will definitely be back.

  34. Lisavut March 13, 2021 at 3:38 am
  35. official store skincell pro March 18, 2021 at 6:54 am

    SKincell Pro is well known by the people who utilized it
    as an excellent skin fixor. The lotion has the same ingredients
    as a lot of the various other moles removing creams on the marketplace today, yet it adds greater than a lot of them.
    The lotion likewise enhances your skin appearance as well
    as supplies even-toned skin. The ingredients,
    the item has are 100% natural ingredients which are secure for your skin.

  36. official store skincell pro March 18, 2021 at 6:55 am

    SKincell Pro is well known by the people who utilized it
    as an excellent skin fixor. The lotion has the same ingredients
    as a lot of the various other moles removing creams on the marketplace
    today, yet it adds greater than a lot of them. The lotion likewise enhances your
    skin appearance as well as supplies even-toned skin. The ingredients, the item has are
    100% natural ingredients which are secure for your skin.

Leave A Comment


About the Author: Cindy Dallow