Protein is the miracle cure of athletes: A lot of protein after training means a lot of muscle, according to general assumptions. But how much protein per serving can the body absorb at all? In general, the body can absorb as much protein per serving as you provide it. The recording itself is not the problem. But there are limits to how much protein your body uses for what in what period of time. If the body does not use the protein immediately, it is first in the intestine and stored.
how much protein per serving does the body even create
When you eat, the food comes first into the stomach. There it is pre-digested by the acid and enzymes in the gastric juices. Useful components, i.e. nutrients, carbohydrates and fats, and certain other chemical compounds, are absorbed by the body and enter the bloodstream through the mucous membrane. What cannot be used in the stomach enters the intestine. There, enzymes, but also bacteria and fungi, ensure that the food pulp is further decomposed. Useful nutrients can enter the bloodstream via the intestinal mucosa and the intestinal wall. The food pulp is pumped through the digestive tract by muscle contractions. This process is called peristalsis and may vary in speed.
Your food is already losing its shape in the stomach. The food ends up there more or less well-chewed through and is first released into an acid bath. The food porridge is called chymus and lingers in the stomach for different lengths. When it is moved into the intestine via the peristaltic movements, the food pulp’s outer layer comes into contact with the intestinal wall. The nutrients, vitamins, proteins and more are absorbed through the mucous membrane. What is indigestible is carried on. The intestine works continuously, always. Through the intestine movements, the food pulp is repeatedly mixed through so that as many nutrients as possible get into the vicinity of the receiving intestinal wall.
Proteins are absorbed in the intestine.
Food proteins, also known as amino acids, are usually absorbed in the intestines. This happens through amino acid transporters. In your gut are various amino acid transporters that take care of the protein per serving. The most common types of these transporters are sodium; these transporters can absorb both neutral and charged amino acids. Chlorine-based transporters do the same. The whole thing works on an electrochemical level.
Another difference is the size of the amino acids that are absorbed. Amino acids generally exist in peptide chains, often as di- or tripeptides. When it comes to PEPT-1 in technical texts, these transports are involved. How much protein per serving your body absorbs now depends on the composition of the transporters in your body. Depending on how many transporters of which variables are available and how fast the metabolic functions enable these transports, your body can absorb a lot of protein per serving or absorb little protein per serving.
We don’t know exactly how much protein is ingested per serving. But we can measure how much protein has been absorbed from the diet overall. What the body does not absorb, it perfectly excretes again. Normally, about 91% to 95% of the body’s protein absorbed per serving is absorbed. The exact percentage depends on the type of protein and the current intake. A normal intake is 10 g to 50 g of protein per serving, i.e. per meal. Proteins from animal sources are usually absorbed in a slightly higher percentage than proteins from plant sources. Roughly speaking, about 5 g to 10 g of protein are absorbed per hour.
Meaning: You can eat too much at once?
Amino acids and some peptides can more or less self-regulate their time in the intestine. This happens with the digestive hormone CCK. Together with the regulation of appetite and the feeling of satiety, the speed of intestinal movements also affects the digestion of protein per serving. CCK is released by the body when food protein is present. If no protein is present, the hormone is not released. If there is a lot of protein, much of the hormone is released, the feeling of satiety persists, and the intestinal movements become slower and sluggish. In the end, therefore, it is the hormones that regulate digestion and its speed. The supply of nutrients controls the hormones.
Does the small intestine receive your muscles?
That’s how you can put it. This is because normally, about 95% of protein per serving is absorbed by the body. The small intestine is an organ, and it also needs nutrients to function. Therefore, it absorbs quite a lot of protein per serving but only passes on a part to the body. The small intestine itself uses a part to survive and do its job. About half of the protein per serving uses the intestine and associated tissues’ various tissues to maintain their function and renew their cells. Especially glutamates, glutamines and branched-fatty amino acids, threonines, cysteines and arginines are needed here. These are the amino acids found mainly in the food of animal origin.
The small intestine also has a memory function. Since the intestine absorbs quite a lot of protein per serving and partly utilises it itself, it can store proteins until the body needs them. And he can recycle some amino acids, so to speak.
Due to these small intestine abilities, there is also often talk of a free pool of amino acids. The body can use here at any time. So it doesn’t matter how much protein you take per serving of your food. If the protein per portion is not sufficient to meet the body’s needs, the body partly uses the small intestine. If you eat more protein per serving than you need, it will be stored. This is done by converting the proteins into glutamines and, if necessary, changing them back.
The downside: If you take less protein per serving for a longer period of time than you need, the entire intestine will eventually use the stored amino acids to continue to function. Then no protein is available for muscles or other tissues of the body.
Conclusion: Pay attention to your diet
… and always take enough protein per serving to you. But you shouldn’t let yourself go crazy, but roughly cover your needs. Your body manages the rest by itself. Nature has ensured that short-term fluctuations in nutrients in the diet can always be compensated without the body suffering. It is still different individually, how much protein is needed per serving and how much protein can be stored per serving. A study among women has shown that amounts of more than 54 g of protein per serving do not produce any difference in protein per serving intake. The study was conducted with women weighing 90 pounds and published in 2000 (see Arnal MA, et al. Protein pattern feeding does not affect young women’s protein retention. J Nutr. Other studies suggest no absolute amount of protein per serving that you should take or not underorexceed. However, one of the other protein calculators online can give you clues as to how much protein per serving your body probably needs and processes.
To be on the safe side, 20 g per serving every 3-5 h seem to achieve the best results espe,cially when it coing muscle mass.