How Much Protein Per Meal?

How Much Protein Per Meal?

You eat a large meal following a workout, you can feel the gains. You watched your favorite bodybuilders/athletes consume large meals on Youtube following their strenuous workouts. Yet your friend tells you "Dude, you know you can only absorb 30g of protein per meal. You just wasted so much." You are confused, angry, and wanting to understand.

For many years the consensus and perhaps rumor has been that your body can only absorb X amount of protein per meal (X being 20-25g). Anything you consumed in excess was considered to be a waste and not utilized in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) or "muscle building" in layman's terms. The thought is that there is an upper limit to post-exercise (and any protein consumption) as it relates to amino acid utilization. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are what our body breaks protein down into to be utilized for its many processes such as MPS. The understood cap of 20-25g saw that the excess consumption led to amino acid oxidation or amino acid breakdown relative to the excess amount consumed. What are the implications of this? It severely complicates meal planning by creating a necessity of multiple smaller emails to ensure adequate protein consumption (1g per lb of body weight). Then how are guys who eat large meals gaining muscle? How are people who eat fewer meals per day still able to pack on the pounds and be lean/athletic? 

Thankfully, Trommelen et al. (2023) sought to challenge this myth in their study. One of the bases of their challenge comes from nature and specifically our ancestors. From a biological standpoint and survivability, it doesn't make sense for us to only be able to utilize a small amount of protein per meal. Many hunter-gatherer tribes and native tribes, in general, relied heavily on large hunts that varied in timing between them. We do require protein as a macronutrient for the functioning of our body, so outside of muscle building and athleticism. These tribes would sometimes go large amounts of time between high-protein animal-based meals. How then could they survive? Similarly, Predatory animals sometimes go days and weeks between large meals yet they strive on and excel at bouts of natural predatory performance. 

This study tested in vivo (in human or human trials). Utilizing two groups and one placebo. They varied in protein consumption. The first group consumed 25g of protein post-resistance training, the second consumed 100g, and the third group consumed a placebo at 0g of protein. The effects of this consumption were observed for 12 hours post. Trommelen et al. (2023) found that not only was the 100g of protein group still utilizing all of the protein but they showed cumulative benefits of its usage for longer than 12 hours. Meaning that the large amounts of protein are utilized for muscle building and repair or MPS.  Further, they found that there is no upper limit based on their study. Should one consume >100g they might find that these proteins are utilized for longer periods with no oxidation of amino acids. This was labeled as a limitation as they speculated higher cumulative results from larger amounts of protein over a longer period.

What does all this mean? Based on this study, you can consume large amounts of protein and it will be used for your gains. This allows for more freedom of maneuver in diet and meal planning. Find the plan that works best for you and ensure you're reaching your adequate daily protein intake for the day and you're good to go. The only caveat is that you are resistance training (as everyone should be at this point). 

Now next time someone gives you shit for eating large meals with large amounts of protein you can give them the run down thanks to the work of Trommelen et al. (2023).


Trommelen, J., van Lieshout, G. A. A., Nyakayiro, J., Goessens, J. P. B., Gijsen, A. P., & van Loon, L. J. C. (2023). The anabolic response to protein ingestion during recovery from exercise has no upper limit in magnitude and duration in vivo in humans. Retrieved from 

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