How Much Protein Can You Actually Absorb in One Meal?

Written by James C., M.S.(C), PT

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Fact Checked

Broscientists around the world like to debate just how much protein your body can absorb at one time.

There are a lot of myths around the issue – the most common of which is the 30 grams myth.

Essentially it states that your body can only absorb 30g of protein in one meal so anything more than that is essentially wasted.

Now, if you are going for 200g+ per day this is obviously a concern because you would essentially need to take 7 meals to hit your goal.

As a result you end up scrambling to get your 30g dose every 2-3 hours to make sure you don’t go catabolic.

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In fact, we know some guys who actually set their alarm clock to go off in the middle of the night so they can get up and get some protein in their systems.

They claim that if they don’t their bodies will go catabolic while they sleep.

Is there any truth to this myth?

Check out our article below to find out!


Protein Absorption

The source of the 30g myth is a study that was done years ago.

It studied the rate of protein absorption for both whey and casein protein.

The study showed us that whey protein could be fully digested in 3-4 hours while casein took closer to 7.

This is why people take whey protein after working out – it absorbs fast and feeds the muscles.

Similarly, casein protein is taken before bed since it will keep your muscles supplied with valuable amino acids for longer.

One thing people don’t know about this study is that the subjects got their protein after a morning fast and took it without any other food.

When taken with food, protein tends to absorb much more slowly.

However, because of the results of this study people felt that they needed to consume protein every 3 hours to make sure they didn’t go catabolic and start breaking down their own muscle tissue.

Obviously something was lost in translation because the outcome doesn’t make much sense.

However, it’s always the most uninformed, illogical guys that feel the need to give their advice the most so this myth spread quickly.

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What is interesting is the fact that casein protein took 7 hours to absorb on its own.

That means that if taken with other food it could take 10+ hours to absorb potentially!

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That would leave your body well satisfied throughout the night.

The Truth

Most guys don’t realize that the human body is a lot smarter than we think.

If it needs to your body will take the time to digest all the nutrients from a particularly meal.

After eating a meal, the food enters your stomach and then into the small intestine.

It is through the walls of the small intestine that the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

This process can be very quick or lengthy – it really depends on how much time your body needs.

It determines the speed of the process and makes sure there is plenty of time to absorb those important nutrients.

Small meals tend to have short digestion time.

Large meals on the other hand tend to take longer.

Now let’s tie this in with the protein adsorption myth.

If you consume a meal that has a a lot of protein such as a large steak your body will slow down the digesting process so that it can fully absorb all the nutrients (protein) from the food.

There are a number of studies that support this claim.

One study took two groups of people and gave them 54 grams of protein either in one meal or in several smaller meals.

After two weeks the groups experienced the same results.

Another piece of evidence that dispels this myth is intermittent fasting.

One study on intermittent fasting took two groups – one that consumed all their protein in a small window and another that consumed their protein throughout the day.

The study showed that there was no difference in muscle maintenance between the two groups.

That means the group that was consuming their protein over a 4 hour span was getting just as many nutrients as the group spreading it over throughout the day.

Testosterone Levels and Protein Absorption

One important factor in determining just how much protein your body absorbs is your testosterone levels.

This is why so many bodybuilders out there inject themselves with synthetic versions of this hormone – it leads to faster muscle growth.

We aren’t recommending that you go out and inject yourself with steroids – that’s dangerous and actually illegal in most countries without a prescription.

There are however a number of ways you can naturally and safely increase your testosterone levels.

These include doing resistance training, eating a clean diet, getting plenty of sleep and taking a testosterone booster.

It hasn’t been until recently that testosterone boosters have caught on.

Whereas in the past supplement companies sold mediocre products that didn’t work well (and refused to reveal the ingredients) now things are different.

There are testosterone boosters hitting the market now that contain natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to boost testosterone levels.

These obviously cost more but if it results in higher testosterone levels and ultimately more muscle growth then we feel they are well worth the price.

See our guide on the best testosterone boosting supplements on the market here.

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> Boost energy levels – Helps you train hard through busy times in your life

> Boost sex drive – Good for the older guys that are experiencing bad sex life

If you’re a guy with many responsibilities yet want to achieve amazing results in and out of the gym – you simply need a high-quality testo booster like TestoFIERCE to ensure you get there faster.


If you want to know everything there is to know about Protein Shakes, check out the Ultimate Protein Powder guide by

Getting back to the main point of this article, there really isn’t a maximum amount of protein you can consume in a single meal.

Having said that, don’t consume 180g of protein in a single sitting as that will probably make you feel sick.

Aim to split your macros up throughout the day but if some meals are going to be higher than the 30g mark you don’t have to worry about wasting that protein.

Remember, your body is smarter than you think. It will speed up or slow down certain processes as needed.

In the case of consuming a high-protein meal your body will slow things down to make sure it gets those much-needed nutrients.

This is particularly true after a tough resistance training session.

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