Building muscle can be an extremely frustrating process. Often, people feel like they're doing everything right and still struggle to meet their goals.
It's important to realize, right away, that building muscle is a complicated procedure that involves everything from your diet to your workouts and your sleep.
There is, however, a relatively small dietary change that you can make that has been shown to help: eating protein every three hours. How does this help?
The Initial Study
The whole idea of mini-meals – eating frequent, small meals throughout the day – has been around for a long time. And, despite its popularity, has been questioned by many experts.
A 2012 study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, though, does seem to bolster the old standard. Specifically, the researchers were looking at the impact of protein timing throughout the day on muscle growth.
For the study, subjects were asked to complete a leg-extension workout and then placed on one of three protein regimes. The participants either ate 10g of protein every 1.5 hours, 20g every three hours or 40g every 6 hours. Either way, all the subjects were getting 80g of protein.
At the end of the study, the researchers compared the muscle building potential of each group – as measured by the “net protein balance.” Of the three groups, those who ate protein every three hours showed greater muscle building potential.
This study – like most studies – does have some limitations. Most importantly, the entire trial only lasted one day. Still, the protein retention was there and does demonstrate some real potential.
It's also important to realize that all three groups saw improvement. Spacing out your protein differently or not sticking to a strict schedule isn't going to ruin your muscle-building efforts.
Finally, the study used whey protein specifically. This is key since whey is a complete protein that releases quickly into your system and tends to react differently than some other available protein sources.
Those minor considerations aside, this study does clearly suggest that eating 20g of protein every three hours provides your muscles with everything that they need to grow efficiently.
Naked Nutrion's protein powders are a great choice if you're looking for a quick way to increase your intake.