Protein timing – How to distribute the amount of protein in the day?

The theory that eating more protein the moment after training improves muscle growth results is passed.

Nowadays, studies recommend spreading the amount of protein throughout the day – this is called protein timing.

This article aims to describe the basics of protein timing: a valuable method to determine when and how often to eat protein to eat during the day.

What is protein timing?

The term protein timing refers to distributing the amount of protein at different times of the day.

Contrary to the anabolic window theory, where the moment after training is the most important, The idea of protein timing indicates that the number of proteins must be distributed evenly throughout the day.

Protein timing arises because studies have confirmed that proteins can not be absorbed in more than 10 g per hour. (3,6,7)

Therefore, scientists propose distributing the amount of protein to increase muscle mass throughout the day.

How do you distribute the amount of protein in the day?

Years ago, some authors supported the theory that is eating more after training was an effective strategy for muscle development. (1,2) In these publications, the increase in the speed of the basal metabolic rate after 30 minutes of training was considered valid.

Current research makes it clear that this moment is not the most important. (3,4,5) But the best thing for muscle synthesis is to distribute the amount evenly over several meals.

The recommended amount of protein to increase muscle mass is about 1.5-2.0 grams per day. This is the equivalent of approximately 130 grams per day. This amount should be distributed throughout the day in almost four meals.

The steps to make a correct protein timing are:

  1. Calculate the amount of protein needed per day (1.5 Kg * bodyweight)
  2. Distribute proteins throughout the day (maximum of 10 g per hour)
  3. Accompany with carbohydrate foods so as not to use protein as the only energy source.
  4. Please take into account the protein source and its assimilation (vegetables vs. animals)

To make a correct protein timing, the key is to be regular. Being consistent in the amount of protein and eating 4 or 5 times a day is the best way to distribute the amount of protein.

It has been confirmed that the consumption of carbohydrates and proteins has a positive effect on the recovery processes of the muscles. (3) This fact, added to the distribution of the moments of the day when it is necessary to eat proteins, is the key to improving the processes of muscle growth.

Vegetable vs. animal protein absorption

In the theory of protein timing, it is necessary to consider the moments of the day when it is essential to eat proteins and how the body can assimilate them. As seen in the table, meats, and products rich in protein of animal origin are the foods with the highest% absorption.

Food Protein content
in 100 g
% absorption
Protein supplements 70 — 75 g 95 – 99%
Meats (beef, chicken, fish) 20 – 30 g 95 – 99%
Dairy products 10 – 30 g 90 – 99%
Eggs 12 – 15 g 95 – 99%
Nuts 10 – 25 g 65 – 70%
Cereals and pseudo-cereals 12 – 15 g 40– 60%
Fruits and vegetables 2 – 3 g 65 – 70%

Table of animal protein content vs. vegetable protein% absorption.

How to improve muscle growth?

When muscle glycogen stores are scarce (45 minutes after intense exercise), the body can use the muscles as an energy source—levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. The amino acids lysine and glycine present in the muscles begin to be used as an energy source.

One method of enhancing muscle growth is to spread protein sources throughout the day. Another effective strategy is to ensure that they are always proteins of high biological value.

In the definition stages, taking sports supplements such as the amino acids bcaa can bring improvements not only in recovery times; but in avoiding muscle oxidation generated by stress when exercising.

Protein Timing: Is It Good To Take Casein At Night?

The casein is milk protein. There are a lot of myths about casein. The best known is whether taking casein at night is better. While casein can be absorbed 10-20% slower than other proteins; consuming it doesn’t make a big difference in muscle growth.

In the theory of protein timing, it is suggested to include some protein sources before going to bed. However, it does not necessarily have to be casein.

To increase muscle volume, it is more important to keep a detailed track of the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and distribute the times of the day when you have to eat protein.


The concept of protein timing refers to the distribution of the times of the day that protein must be eaten to optimize muscle growth.

It was believed that the body could absorb a more significant amount of protein 45 – 60 minutes after training. Today it is known that this moment is not the most important.

The theory of protein timing suggests distributing the 1.5 g of protein/kg of body weight in at least four portions with a separation of 3 hours each.

Not forgetting protein for breakfast, making a correct balance of macros, and taking into account the percentages of protein absorption are helpful methods to improve the results in muscle growth.

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