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Can your body only take in 1 1/2 grams of protein per pound, and is this the magic number?

Here is the truth about protein—and actually this holds true for everything that has to do with bodybuilding—everyone is different! Some people may be able to gain on 1 1/2 grams of protein intake per pound of body weight, while others will need less, and yet others will need much more. In most cases, it is my belief that the body does function better at a higher level of protein—but because of the way the body breaks down proteins and how much protein is actually used by the body, more likely than not the body could stand a bit more than 1 1/2 grams per pound of body weight. Again, the key is making certain your body utilizes all the protein you give it during a meal so there isn’t excess in your system when it’s time for you to eat again. For instance, if you average 30 grams of protein per meal, if it takes about an hour and  a half for your body to make use of this, and if you eat every three hours, you may need to increase that amount a bit. Or if your system is slower and it takes you longer to utilize that amount, 30 grams may be right for you. It’s important to keep in mind that efficiency means everything.

Eating more than the amount of protein your body requires will not only cause your digestive process to slow down, but it will also hinder your muscle-building process because it will constantly try to play catch-up by ridding itself of the excess. The same goes for the fip side: If you don’t take in enough protein and your body functions at a higher rate, you’ll never gain the size you want as you will not feed the muscles enough— not just when you are training, but also during the post-training rest and recovery periods.

Chad, do I really need to eat every two to three hours to gain muscle? With my work schedule, there is no way that I can do this.

Let’s get real—most people in the tangible world don’t have the schedule or luxury to drop everything and eat a meal every two to three hours like a professional bodybuilder would. The truth is that your body does not need to be fed every two to three hours. The key to promoting muscle growth and reaching the valid gains you crave is making certain your body runs efficiently. This includes knowing how your system utilizes the food you take in and making sure your meals are spread out evenly throughout the day. How the body uses the nutrients you feed it is extremely important. You need to know if, in two to three hours, you still have food from your prior meal sitting in your system, i.e., whether you still feel full. Are you extremely hungry? If you’re at work during the day, more than likely—unless you’re in the extreme-physique profession—you aren’t going to be hungry at that two- to three-hour point. In reality, unless you have a freaky metabolism, your body will not make use of everything in two or three hours. Eating too often can actually slow your gains because the body is never allowed to burn everything and “catch up” to itself, which can slow protein synthesis and actually hinder your progress.

Everyone says the last meal of the day can’t contain carbs. I’m on the second shift, am really hungry when I get home from work, and don’t know if I should eat carbs. Help!

It really depends on how you assimilate carbohydrates. If you eat more frequently throughout the day (six to seven meals)—it will take you longer to deplete your body’s glycogen level than a person eating only a few times a day (four to five meals daily)—24 hours on average. Therefore, you won’t need carbs at night and can withstand going through your sleep phase without carbs. However, if you take in fewer carbs during the day because you are take in fewer meals daily and your body runs much more efficiently that way, I recommend ingesting a moderate amount of carbs consistently throughout the day, including at the last meal of the day. Again, it just depends on what works best for you. – FLEX