Infinite_labs, Whey protein
Infinite_labs, Whey protein

Protein Frequency: 4 or 6 Meals a Day for Growth

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Protein Frequency: Is More Often Better?

Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym. Whey protein contains an incredible range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly which make it superior to other proteins. Numerous studies show that whey protein can help you increase strength, gain muscle and lose significant amounts of body fat. Not only is whey protein needed for optimal increases in lean muscle, whey protein is one of the healthiest proteins you can consume due to its high glutathione levels.

If you have read previous articles on Infinite Labs website, its been reported that 20-30 grams of whey protein stimulates maximal protein synthesis and adding more protein did not further stimulate protein synthesis. So doubling up your whey protein is not going to double protein synthesis rates. For years, bodybuilders and athletes have been told to eat six to eight meals a day to maximize muscle gains, but according to new research, as long as sufficient amounts of high quality protein are consumed, increasing protein intake from 4 meals to 6 meals does not lead to further improvements in muscle mass.

According to the International Society for Sports Nutrition position stand on meal frequency, a reduced meal frequency doesn’t appear to compromise lean body mass under hypocaloric conditions in the presence of a sufficient protein intake. So if you not a big eater, as long as your getting the right amount of protein, it does not matter if you eating six mini meals a day, as opposed to three larger meals a day. The latest study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism reports that increasing protein consumption from 4 to 6 meals a day did not lead to further increases in lean muscle mass.


muscular man drinking protein shake
There was no clear effect of increasing protein distribution from approximately 4 to 6 eating occasions on changes in lean mass during a rugby preseason.

Increasing the frequency of protein consumption is recommended to stimulate muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise. Researchers manipulated dietary protein distribution to assess the effect on gains in lean mass during a rugby preseason. 24 developing elite rugby athletes were instructed to consume high biological value protein at their main meals and immediately after resistance exercise while limiting protein intake between meals. To manipulate protein intake frequency, the athletes consumed 3 liquid protein supplements (22 g protein) either with main meals or between meals for 6 weeks. At the end of six weeks, the dietary manipulation successfully altered the protein distribution score (average number of eating occasions containing > 20 g of protein) to 4 to 6 but there was no difference in gains in lean mass between conditions.

There was no clear effect of increasing protein distribution from approximately 4 to 6 eating occasions on changes in lean mass during a rugby preseason. However other dietary factors may have augmented adaptation. So the morale of the story is that you need protein for optimal gains in muscle mass but increasing the amount of protein you consume at each meal is not going to further augment gains in lean muscle mass. There seems to be a ceiling effect with protein consumption, once you have reached an optimal dose of protein saturation in your body, further increases in protein are not going to be beneficial.

MacKenzie-Shalders KL, King NA, Byrne NM, Slater GJ. Increasing Protein Distribution has no Effect on Changes in Lean Mass During a Rugby Preseason. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Jul 1.


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