When it comes to building muscle, protein is a key nutrient that cannot be overlooked. However, research has shown that it's not just about the total amount of protein consumed, but the distribution of protein throughout the day that can have a significant impact on muscle growth. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that evenly distributing protein intake over three meals is more effective for building muscle than a typical skewed protein intake pattern.
The study, which included 26 healthy young men, found that those who consumed a high-protein breakfast and less protein at dinner, while still achieving an adequate overall protein intake, experienced greater muscle hypertrophy compared to those with a typical skewed protein intake pattern. Specifically, the "high breakfast" group consumed a protein-enriched meal at breakfast providing 0.33 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Their protein intake at lunch and dinner provided an adequate overall daily protein intake of 1.30 grams per kilogram of body weight. In contrast, the "low breakfast" group consumed only 0.12 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight at breakfast, with their protein intake at lunch and dinner yielding the same daily protein intake as the "high breakfast" group.
Though both groups experienced increases in total lean soft tissue mass (LTM) after performing supervised resistance training three times per week for 12 weeks, the "high breakfast" group tended to have greater muscle hypertrophy than the "low breakfast" group. The study concluded that consuming a protein-enriched meal at breakfast and less protein at dinner while achieving an adequate overall protein intake is more effective for building muscle than consuming more protein at dinner.
So, what does this mean for your diet? It suggests that evenly distributing your protein intake throughout the day, with a focus on a high-protein breakfast, can lead to greater muscle growth. This may be especially important for those looking to optimize their resistance training and build muscle mass.
If you're struggling to get enough protein from whole foods alone, incorporating a high-quality, convenient protein supplement like whey protein can be a great option. Whey protein is a popular choice among athletes and bodybuilders due to its high protein content, rapid digestion, and amino acid profile that supports muscle repair and growth.
In summary, muscle growth isn't just about hitting a specific protein target - it's about properly distributing that protein throughout the day. A high protein breakfast and even distribution of protein intake over three meals can help optimize muscle growth, with the help of a high-quality protein supplement like whey protein.