If you have been asking yourself, does it matter when you eat protein, you are now in the right place. Too many people think that if they time all of their meals perfectly, they are going to magically turn into a beast.
That is simply not the case, and there is way more to building muscle than timing your protein intake.
In this article we are going to discuss the most important aspects of muscle building and nutrition.
Before we get started, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). You will find multiple FREE workout plans to help you on your journey.
The amount of protein is more important than the timing
It has been proven time and time again that in order to build muscle, you need to eat .5-.8 grams of protein for every pound in body weight per day.
So for someone that is 200 pounds, you should be eating 100 – 160 grams of protein per day. That doesn’t seem that difficult does it? In fact, my 1000 calorie protein shake recipe contains 73 grams of protein alone!
It seems that a lot of people think that in order to get in good shape, you need to only eat boiled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and brown rice.
Do not fall victim to this mentality. Learn to understand your body and make sure that you are hitting all of your calorie goals.
Overall calorie intake matters more than protein intake
This is where most people mess up. They think that as long as they are eating .8 grams of protein for their body weight, they are good to go. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, you will find that total calories matters significantly more than your protein take. Why? Because if you are not eating enough calories, your muscles are not going to be fed.
Let me explain how this works in the simplest form. In order to build muscle, you have to eat at a caloric surplus. Even if you hit your protein goals, you could still be at maintenance, or even at a caloric deficit.
The best thing to do is learn how to calculate your maintenance calories. From here, we can start to ensure that we hit our calorie goals AND our protein goals. The tactics are simple. If you want to build muscle, eat at a caloric surplus. If you want to lose fat, eat at a caloric deficit.
Once you have your maintenance calorie number down, you will be in a way better position to hit your goals.
You are going to need an app like MyFitnessPal to track every calorie that you consume. I understand that there is a negative connotation with tracking your calories. But once you learn how to do it, it will come a lot easier.
So, back to our question, does it matter when you eat protein? In this context, it really doesn’t matter how much protein you eat if you aren’t hitting your total calorie goals. Remember, you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit. This is true no matter how much protein you eat.
Hit your protein goals, then ensure you hit your total calorie goals. Don’t make the mistake of just coasting at maintenance, or being at a deficit. If you want to build muscle, you must be at a surplus.
If you must time your protein intake
Bro science will tell us that if you don’t eat or consume a protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing a workout, then you aren’t going to build muscle. Not only is this misleading, but it is quite sad that people believe this.
I personally believed this for more years than I would like to admit. The bro science theory suggests that your muscles are the most “open” for nutrients directly after a workout.
Even if that were true, which it is not, your body would still need to digest the food and distribute the calories throughout your body, which takes hours.
The truth here is that the best way to ensure that you are building muscle is to be in a constant state of caloric surplus. That means that everyday you need to be eating at a caloric surplus.
The only way to know that you are in a caloric surplus everyday is to understand your maintenance calorie number. From there, you can start by eating 500 calories per day over that number. See? That is a caloric surplus.
If you are not gaining weight with your 500 calorie surplus, then add another 250 per day. Do that every week until you are gaining around a pound per week.
Timing your protein intake is unnecessary, but if you must time it, eating or drinking a protein shake directly after a workout is your best bet. And it is not because your muscles are “open.”
It is because your body is prepared most to consume and digest calories. Working out increases blood flood and ramps up digestion. Does it matter when you eat protein? Not really, just remember to be in a caloric surplus AND hit your daily protein goals. This combination will set you over the top.
Main Point: Does it matter when you eat protein?
By now, you should have been able to figure out the answer to our question, does it matter when you eat protein? The truth of the matter is that there is no magic time to eat protein.
What matters most is overall protein intake. Remember, if you want to build muscle, you absolutely have to be in a caloric surplus. This is the opposite for those who want to lose fat. People who want to lose fat must be in a caloric deficit.
Maybe you are happy where your body is. Just make sure you eat your maintenance calories everyday.
We know that in order to ensure muscle growth, you should be eating .5 – .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Don’t fall victim to the idea that once you hit your protein goal, you are good to go.
I understand that tracking your calories is one of the most dreaded things that someone can tell you to do. But as someone who does it, I can tell you that the learning curve is worth it.
If I never started tracking my calories, I would have not gained 70 pounds in 3 years.
The truth of the matter is that the majority of the U.S. population is overweight. And there isn’t much information out there for people who want to put on weight and build muscle. Most people are shocked when I tell them that I put on 70 pounds in 3 years.
Especially considering that they would be happy losing just 20 pounds. If there is one thing to take away from this article, it is that eating at a caloric surplus is what builds muscle. This is of course assuming you are doing weight training 3-4 days per week.
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