While scientists in the past have theorized that protein utilization in the body depends significantly on the timing of consumption and speed of digestion, new research shows that it doesn’t matter how you distribute your protein intake over the course of the day—as long as you hit your daily target.

In the study, published earlier this year in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers divided subjects into two groups that were each given the same amount of either casein or whey protein over four evenly spaced meals each day. The casein and whey groups were further divided in half, with one half consuming their day’s protein quota using a spread distribution (25/25/25/25), and the other using a pulse distribution (8/80/4/8).

At the end of the six-week study, the researchers were unable to find any difference between the four groups in terms of body composition, perception of hunger, nitrogen balance, fat metabolism, or whole-body protein synthesis.

What the study didn’t address is that, while it’s irrelevant how you distribute your protein over a day’s meals, the 30-minute post- workout window remains a critical time for shuttling nutrients to your muscles. This is still the best time to hit your muscles hard with a blast of high-quality, fast- digesting protein.


Reference: S. Adechian et al., Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab., 2012 Aug 14.