Scott Connelly - How Much Protein Is Ideal to Consume to Maximize Muscle Gains
QUESTION: In an off-season scenario, in a 24 hour period...how many grams of protein per pound of bodyweight do you think is required to
gain the maximum amount of muscle?
Dr. Connelly said you need a 30 gram dose of animal protein every 3 to 4 hours to get your 3 grams of leucine.
DR SCOTT CONNELLY's RESPONSE:
The optimal averaged 24 hour intake of dietary protein to maximize lean body mass gains induced by RT is not precisely known. The best sophisticated data comes from a study in which daily protein intake was varied from 1-3 grams per kilogram of body weight and stable isotope methodology was used to assess protein "turnover" (composite rates of synthesis vs breakdown).
This study was significant in that:
* Rates of both synthesis and breakdown (hence total turnover) increased linearly with increasing protein dose.
* Increases in synthesis and breakdown when plotted produced virtually super-imposable graphics, thus suggesting that the two metrics of protein balance literally cancelled one another out.
* Despite the above, increases in lean body mass gain basically doubled with every increment in protein intake.
What this suggests is that the relationship between total 24 hour intake of protein and muscle gain with effective RT protocols is essentially linear (at least within the range of this study, i.e. 3 gr/kg/day).
The subjects in the study struggled to get to 3 gr/kg/day and thus no data was collected beyond this point.
Another important point is that the protein that was ingested was usual and customary whole food cooked protein sources which reliably produced superior nitrogen retention than do proteins with very rapid digestion and assimilation characteristics and thus cannot be extrapolated to elemental protein diets (free form aminos or hydrolysates) or rapidly assimilated proteins such as whey and soy.
Whey is useful in one context in particular and that is the post workout period (from immediately after training up to 3 hours later) in which the exercise induced increment in fractional rates of muscle protein synthesis can be synergistic-ally augmented by the ingestion of a rapidly assimilated complete protein source (with a PDCAAS of > 1.0 or greater) that delivers net 3 grams of leucine. The duration of this threshold dose of whey lasts only about 3 hours in humans, so it is more efficient to use the whey post workout and then load up on more slowly assimilated proteins during the rest of the day to optimize whole body protein metabolism and nitrogen retention.