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When to Take Protein

Timing protein intake throughout the day is essential to maximizing muscle gains, reducing muscle breakdown, and keeping nitrogen levels positive. I will quickly summarize the logic behind the regimen before presenting the regimen itself.

First, we need to understand how to suppress protein breakdown, and how to increase protein synthesis. Keep in mind, this timing assumes you are getting plenty of fat and carbs in all of your meals, at all the right times, unless otherwise stated. To reduce breakdown of muscle tissue, we need a slow digesting protein. Casein is the first thing that probably comes to mind, but I will soon explain why it is not a good choice. We are going to use whole-food. After all, you can’t survive on shakes alone. Starting with breakfast, consume whatever amount of protein from whole food you need at that meal (varies depending on muscle-mass, diet, and exercise protocol). This will cause a slow, sustained release of amino acids over a long period of time (hours). This suppresses protein breakdown. Now, to increase protein synthesis, we need to use a fast acting protein. Whey is probably the first thing to come to mind, and you are right. This is also why we could not use casein for the meal. Listen up.

We need to consume whey protein no sooner than 5 minutes after the meal, and no later than 30 minutes afterwards. This will cause a spike of amino acids in the blood. This is the only, I repeat, ONLY way to increase protein synthesis above normal levels. A slow, sustained slightly raised level will not significantly raise synthesis rates. A large spike is needed. Even if the meal contained a fast acting protein that spiked levels of aminos in the blood (in addition to the slow acting protein), another spike will further increase levels of synthesis, as long as the second spike is larger than the first. Get it? More is better when it comes to increasing synthesis rates. This is why we don’t want to use casein before the whey. Casein will coagulate in the stomach and increase digestion time. Whole food will itself digest slowly, but won’t influence the digestion of other foods as much. 

After this process, repeat three hours later. DO NOT WAIT MORE THAN 3 HOURS EVER!!! ALWAYS GET PROTEIN EVERY THREE HOURS!!!!! You can only retain nitrogen (and thus be in an anabolic state) for three hours before you need more protein. There is no way to store amino acids in the body as a reserve, except when you build muscle. So when you run out, your only source is muscle tissue. 

Your optimal protein protocol:

00:00 Whole food meal

00:10 Whey protein shake (at least one 20-30 gram scoop)

03:00 Whole food meal

03:10 Whey protein shake


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