How Much Protein Does Your Body Absorb?

Protein absorption is a key process in an athlete's body. But each person is different and their diet as well as physical activity affect how much protein their bodies absorb.
How Much Protein Does Your Body Absorb?

Last update: 09 May, 2019

It’s a common question among athletes and new dieters who want to get fit: how much protein can my body synthesize? What’s there to know about it?

The people who ask this question are usually shrinking their appetite while gaining muscle mass. While the body takes in any kind of protein, not all of them are highly efficient.

In order to eat right, you need to know how absorption works as well as how your body uses proteins. There are recommended levels of protein intake for men and women but they’re not  absolute. The right levels depend on what kind of diet a person follows as well as the physical activity that he or she partakes in.

Age, overall health condition, lifestyle, kinds of proteins are all factors. However, the key lies in knowing that excess doesn’t hold negative consequences.

The body can differentiate and manage everything that it takes in. It absorbs and uses what it needs while discarding the rest or conserving it for future use.

How does the body absorb protein?

The intestines and digestive enzymes separate proteins they find in amino acids. After, they transport them through the tract lining to two possible destinations. Some of the proteins go into blood flow while others are used in intestinal tissue. In any case, the body absorbs more than 90 percent of these nutrients.

The body absorbs protein at a rate of around 1.3 to 10 grams an hour. Several factors directly impact these protein absorption levels. Examples include general health condition, the way a protein is absorbed and the quality of the protein itself are all important factors.

On another note, ingesting protein-rich foods and drinks can raise protein synthesis up by 50 percent. But this increase doesn’t directly impact muscle production. If the body receives an excessive amount of proteins, it doesn’t necessarily translate into more muscle mass.

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Fast and slow digesting proteins

The body uses amino acids in different ways according to the type and quality of the ingested protein. Fast digesting proteins boost amino-acid levels in the blood flow. Slow proteins raise levels, in lower amounts, over time.

Efficiency, however, depends on what a person eats. Everybody is different.

For the most part, slow proteins are recommendable for the elderly or those who only have one meal a day. On the other hand, people who divide their protein intake between four or six meals are better off eating fast digesting proteins.

As for protein quality, the biological value can indicate protein synthesis levels. The muscular and skeletal systems benefit from whey proteins while vegetable proteins become urea.

How much protein do you need for muscle growth?

Using an average of healthy, adult subjects, the normal ranges for population groups are as follows:

  • Women, 48 to 68 kilos: 20 to 26 grams for lower range, 27 to 37 for the higher range.
  • Female athletes: 66 to 94 grams.
  • Men, 70 to 90 kilos: 28 to 40 grams of protein for lower range, 36 to 50 for a higher range.
  • Male athletes: 84 to 119 grams.

Dividing intake between four daily meals is beneficial and also helps keep hunger at bay. These numbers, however, are general and can be adjusted for personal cases.

These ranges aim to gather enough leucine to stimulate muscle growth. Leucine regulates mTOR; keeping your leucine levels in check can optimize your results.

On a different note, remember that consuming an excess of proteins won’t harm your health. There are no dangerous side-effects.

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Additional information

To wrap up, we want to give additional information on proteins. When you don’t consume proteins, your cells start to release amino acids. On the other hand, if you take in a high amount of proteins, your intestines only absorb the maximum amount.

Another thing to consider is that having a higher muscle mass will allow you to absorb protein more efficiently. While your body can consume an almost unlimited amount of proteins, it’ll only use what it needs.

Aim to consume the number of proteins that your body requires every day. Over-consuming won’t help you, but it won’t hurt you either.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.