Protein is just one of those somewhat controversial topics that there just doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on. How much, how often, what types of protein – fast, slow, whole food or supplements.
The research also seems to be conflicting – until you actually read the studies. The lab of, among others, Stuart M. Phillips have been publishing a lot of interesting research the past few years. He’s sort of the go-to guy on protein synthesis and muscle growth in general since he’s also recently shown that it’s the amount of WORK you do that determines how big your muscles can get – not necessarily the load… but that’s a topic for another time, and something I’ve talked about before.
Here’s their recent review, with a nice summary of the current state of affairs:
Nutritional regulation of muscle protein synthesis with resistance exercise: strategies to enhance anabolism.
I’ll make it easier for you by providing you with the Cliff’s Notes version, as well as my own addendums:
1. Dairy protein seems to be the superior protein source, probably due to a higher leucine content (10-12%) as well as a fast delivery (whey). The rapid rise in amino acid (AA) levels is a determinant in the anabolic response. Whey is suggested as the primary source, but other studies show that a combination of whey and casein is probably much better as it prolongs the effect beyond the first 2-3hrs of meal ingestion, and this ties into the next point:
2. A certain time off from protein is probably better than a constant influx, due to something called the refractory response – meaning that the protein synthesis machinery stops responding to input if it is constantly bombarded with food. Unpublished research from Phillips’ lab shows that 4 meals were 30% better than both 8 meals and 2 meals, and this is in line with research done a few years ago (the PhD dissertation of our own Therese Fostervold-Mathisen) where 3 meals were superior to 6 meals for muscle gains. There’s one minor caveat, though – the 4 meals used a protein intake deemed to be optimal at 20g (providing 2,5g of leucine), whereas the 8 meal group only used 10g and the 2 meal group (which was too infrequent, apparently) used 40g. So 80g total of protein per day, which sounds a little on the low side, doesn’t it? This brings us to the next point:
3. Their studies show 20-25g of protein to be the maximum effective intake on a meal-per-meal basis, at least if you are young and healthy. Older people seem to require more protein, approximately double (40g) to overcome some sort of “anabolic resistance”. We´re not sure what the mechanism is, we just know it exists. Let’s expand on that: 20-25g of whey is 2,5-3g or so of leucine, the branched-chain amino acid which is the primary driver of all the good stuff happening. That’s for someone at an average bodyweight of 80kg, so we can probably round it up to 3,5g if you’re bigger and 2g if you’re smaller. Now, a diet comprised of whey protein drinks isn’t very satisfying, so what happens if you want to eat some real food? Leucine content is about 7-8% in red and white meat, fish and eggs, so the equivalent of whole food protein required for 2g of leucine is 25g (about 100-120g of beef/chicken/fish or 4 whole eggs) and for 3g it’s 40g (170-200g of beef/chicken/fish or 6 whole eggs) – and not too far off from the generic recommendations. This goes to show, though, that protein supplements are quite cheap when you look at how much bang for your buck you get (high leucine content, 80-90% protein content).
4. The next point I’d like to make is the recent study showing a pre-bed intake of a slower digesting protein ensures you get a high anabolic effect throughout the next 8-12hrs until the next meal (or 16 if you belong to the Intermittent Fasting crowd). This was in comparison to 20g of whey ingested after a late workout, though – so in the real world, 40g of protein from casein (found in cottage cheese and quark/curd) isn’t necessarily a requirement. A composite meal with carbs, fiber from veggies, and fats would also slow down the digestion rate of meat and fish. Eggs in particular are even slower digested than casein. So, you should be fine just following the regular Biorhythm Diet concept of having a large meal a couple of hours before bedtime. I tend to have slightly more protein in this meal, anyway.
(Addendum July 15th: In personal dialogue, Stuart Phillips recommended 0.6g/kg for the final meal based on unpublished data).
5. Pre- and post-workout intake is still a little back-and-forth, since many studies have been done in a fasted state, which isn’t necessarily how it’s done in the real world. In fact, one recent study showed that whey + leucine ingested in one big gulp (bolus) 45min before the workout was inferior to the same spread out over the next 3hrs (pulse), mimicking a “slow” protein. The reason for this is probably that with the bolus, amino acid levels were already declining when the workout started. Most people have at least 1 or 2 whole food meals in them before they hit the gym, so unless you are very hungry and/or the last meal was more than 3-4 hours ago, there’s not a real need for any super-magic hydrolysates or BCAAs pre-workout. I do admit that I like to be “better safe than sorry”, so I usually add 5-8g of BCAAs here or some whey with added leucine/BCAA. Post-workout, a 50/50 or 60/40 combination of whey and casein (as in MyoProtein, which I designed for MyRevolution) is perfect, and as the studies indicate, 20-30g (the equivalent of 25-35g product) may very well be plenty unless you’re a heavyweight bodybuilder.
Practical recommendations, based on the above research and my opinion and experience:
- 25-40g of whole food protein per meal x 3-4 meals per day. The final meal of the day could have a higher protein intake of 30-60g with the inclusion of a “slow” protein source such as eggs or casein.
- Add in some (optional) pre-workout whey(15-25g) or BCAAs (4-8g).
- Post-workout, have a whey+casein blend, 20-30g worth. If you’re having a whole food meal within an hour, that’s perfectly fine and you could just have a small amount of whey and some fruits when leaving the gym, then cook and eat when you get home. Or have your girlfriend/boyfriend do it for you, gotta recover those arms, obviously. The 3-4 meal recommendation includes this post-workout protein feeding (either whey+casein or whey with a whole food meal within an hour), but 5 meals is also feasible if you have particularly long days.
- Total protein intake – and I usually don’t count protein from carbs or fat sources, except eggs – is going to be around 1,5-2g/kg bodyweight or even 1,2-1,5 with the predominant use of high-quality whey or milk proteins. This is probably quite a bit lower than what you’re doing now and have been led to believe is needed, and also quite a bit lower than what I’ve recommended in the past. The benefits – less digestion issues, saves $$$, and makes room for more carbs and fats in your diet – are worth it. You’re not going to lose muscle, and you might even gain some muscle (not sufficient research yet, but there are certain indicators).
- If you’re restricting calories for fat loss, there are so many benefits of a higher protein intake (satiety and thermic effect to name a couple), that I think you should increase the recommendations given by 20-30% (2-2,5g/kg bodyweight).
Oh, and I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – white rice is a perfectly fine carb source, whole grains or brown rice can actually inhibit nutrient uptake. Get your fiber from fruits and vegetables.
So is this the final word? Probably not, but for the most part I doubt there will be any major surprises. Over-anal-yzing and going back and forth on a gram here or a minute there is, more often than not, irrelevant in the grand perspective of things. Over the span of months and years where so many other things can go wrong anyway…
Until next time, may your farts smell like flowers instead of rotten eggs.
224 Comments on “The final word on protein(?)”
INGEN forskning kommer til å stoppe meg fra å spise et stort og saftig kjøttstykke. Fordi det er godt 😀
Nei, samme her 🙂 Poenget er vel at selv om det ikke trenger å ha noen negativ effekt om du spiser en stor saftig biff til hvert måltid, så er det heller ikke nødvendig.
Translation: point being that while there might not be any negative consequences if you eat a large, juicy steak every meal, it’s not really needed either.
What’s your take on Lyle’s recommendation of 1.1-1.5g/lb for Power & Strength Athletes?
It won’t hurt, but as you can see in my post, my recommendations are lower.
Borge what about carbohydrates, fats and total calories? I’m assuming since your protein recommendations are lower, carbs and fats goes up dramatically, when trying to put on mass? For an 100kg lifter to maintain his weoght he need at least 3200cals, if he takes 1,5g/kg protein (150g/day) that leaves 2600 cals for fats and casb, if the fats are at 30% (about 100g/day) carbs must be 410g/day, just for maintaining his weight and to add weight (~20% more cals or 500-600kcal more) he need another 100g carbs and 20g fats. Am I right?
You don’t need as many calories to grow as you think, so why would carbs and fats go up “dramatically”? But those numbers seem quite normal for a 100kg guy, I’m dieting now on 300-350g of carbs whereas in the past I would gain fat on anything above 250g…so you can reprogram your metabolism over time if you go about it the right way. It even seems that quality mass gains are better (less fat gains) without having to force feed, and without having to feel and look bloated.
I’ve talked about it here: http://myrevolution.no/blade/2011/11/03/your-body-is-listening-what-are-you-telling-it/
btw – try calculating the cost of 1lbs of rice to cover those carb needs, vs the cost of 3-4lbs of meat and chicken to eat the equivalent in protein.
Very interesting. So at the end of the it’s all about calories in vs calories out (when those calories are from clean/nutritious foods)? You have obcisouslly dieted on lower carbs/higher protein in the past, what the main differences you’ve noticed (muscle fullnes, easier/harder to lose bf, water retiontion, strenght in the gym etc)? How much protein you are taking in on 300-350g carbs? I’m assuming your fats are kept very low?
Well, sorta…I think food selection is VERY important, but having said that – my experience with less protein is that my stomach is flatter, my muscles have more fullness (since I can have more carbs) even though overall calories are slightly lower (TEF of protein is 10 times that of carbs) I’m not really hungry. I used to do high protein (400g), moderate fats, low’ish carbs and no carbs for the last 1-2 meals – and I would wake up several times in the night starving. No such thing now, I go to bed with almost 200g of carbs in my last meal and sleep great through the night. I wake up at 7am without an alarm clock. I’m not even hungry until a couple of hours after getting out of bed in the morning.
My protein intake is around 200g right now, and my fats are in the 60-90g range – my diet is kinda intuitive and based on hunger right now so it varies according to what I want to eat.
Well written article. I’m on the high end of protein consumption, of the ‘better-safe-than-sorry’ crowd though I have never used supplements. By the way, is your forum open to regular mortals?
They are mortals, but it’s a client only forum 🙂
Great summary Børge. Is 1.5 g protein pr kg (mostly whey\casein and meat\fish and some crappy tasting bcaa) enough to maintain lbm at a diet? (max 0,5 kg weightloss pr week, usually less). I have no problems with satiety, but due to food preferencies and economy I find it hard to eat more protein than this all week (some days though I easily hit 2 gr pr kg). I try to follow IF most days and eat bio-rythm-ish (due to vacation I can`t do it every day).
It should be, but depends on the caloric restriction. I would go higher on a PSMF-type diet, but a more moderate deficit should be fine at 1.5g/kg, especially if some of it is comprised of whey/casein and BCAA.
I wonder if a low(er) meal frequency in general would lower the protein requirements, since science has repeatedly shown, that a lower meal frequency reduces AA oxidation?
Also, I would appreciate studies, where the protein threshold is taken account of in every meal, instead of a total protein intake, that only allows the lower frequencies to consistently reach the threshold. What are your thoughts on this?
What science is that? The study mentioned in the article I talked about, they compared eight, four and then two meals of more protein (40g) and the 4 meals with less protein (20g) was still 30-40% better.
Alan Aragon has talked about it, the respective studies showing that 3 meals were better than 6, 1 meal better than 3, and so on. Muscle sparing on a deficit, that is.
What you just said makes perfectly sense, when you consider the threshold theory as true for building muscle/anabolism. Like 4x full MPS response is better than 2x full MPS response & 8x “nothing” (not necessarily nothing, but since not reaching the threshold…i hope you get what I mean). But when a study would compare, say, 150-200g of quality protein, split up on the same frequencies (and everyone reaching the threshold), would the outcome be the same?
I have no definite answer for that, beyond what I already stated in my blog post – to reiterate: we can say with fairly certainty that 3-4 meals is pretty close to optimal for most intents and purposes. Increasing protein slightly when you’re in a deficit is fine for a number of reasons. And I don’t think 1 meal would in any way be better than 3, there is data on that so if you have something showing differently I would be interested in seeing it.
The forum post from Alan:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! 🙂
Before I forget:
Tjark: I believe my blog post is pretty clear and i would hate to repeat myself. Again – 8 meals was tested and there was indeed a refractory response, i.e. even if we could say 10g protein is below the optimal level, the difference in MPS between 10g and 20g (5-15%) is less than the total loss of efficiency from eating every 2hrs (30%) so I think this points to a refractory response as the most likely explanation.
The Stote et al study – they used maintenance calories, it wasn’t a diet per se.
“However, when consuming 1 meal/d, subjects had a significant increase in hunger; a significant modification of body composition, including reductions in fat mass; significant increases in blood pressure and in total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations; and a significant decrease in concentrations of cortisol.”
BIA for body composition measures is very unreliable under conditions where you would expect severe alterations in electrolyte and fluid balance.
If indeed the 1 meal/d group lost both weight and bodyfat, it indicates some sort of “wastage” factor, not that 1 meal is better than 3 meals.
I also find this weird: “Our study withdrawal rate was 28.6%. Typical rates of withdrawal from human feeding studies at our facility are ≈4–7%”
Even though only 1 subject reported that the problem with following the protocol was the 1 meal.
“subjects did not become habituated to the 1 meal/d diet. Over time, hunger, desire to eat, and prospective consumption increased, whereas feelings of fullness decreased.”
I really don’t see the point in arguing for this anymore. I prefer to design diets that active individuals not confined to metabolic wards are able to follow.
In no way I was arguing for 1 meal a day or anything of that nonsense. Personally I prefer 3-4 Meals a day, just as you advise here and in various blogposts. I was just curious.
Thanks for your effort of clearing this up, appreciate it!
Good stuff. I like the things you have been posting about nutrition and training lately.
Thanks. You’re the guy from Lyle’s “nice” forum, right? 🙂
Yes, that’s me. I saw your post linked on another forum and thought I would take a look. I have some experience with middle eastern bodybuilders and many of these simply can’t afford the same protein intake that many american and european bodybuilders can, but still they get results (growth, muscle retention when dieting). So clearly 1.5-2g/kg bw/day can be sufficient.
Good observation, and I actually had that one in mind, too. They’re also not (in general) using boatloads of insulin, GH and AAS either – it is very simple and many can obviously not afford GH or any exotics. I think that’s saying something.
But then obviously, when I see that the average Joe’s and Jane’s I’m working with are growing nicely on that protein range, that’s saying even more. Some nice unpublished research from elite athletes at Olympiatoppen (connected to Norwegian School of Sports Sciences) is confirming this (as well as that 3 vs 6 meal study).
You probably know this but in many of those countries AAS is cheaper than protein powder ;). In general protein sources are expensive.
Though anecdotal to the point, I was recently in Nigeria, Africa and noted saw many individuals who were absolutely ripped and large. Curiously, these individuals had a substantially larger carb intake daily and ate probably 50
grams of protein a day. The underlying factor in most of these guys was their NEPA. They worked in jobs like stone masons, car mechanics, labourers etc. I also found that the general populace ate the same levels of protein but with less resistance training and generally looked skinny fat(for the guys) and over weight (for women). I know genetics play a role but the amount of muscle built by these individuals on very little protein was absolutely impressive. I believe Brad Pilon has a book out that questions the current recommendations for hypertrophy.
ps Borge, I don;t know if you’ve already done this, but I would like to see the same treatment given to Carbs as well(best sources, how much for growth, fat loss etc). I absolutely trust the thoroughness of your work .
Exactly! People overplay the role of protein (as well as genetics and drugs, but that is a different discussion) and think that training a lift on consecutive days their muscles will deteriorate and fall off their bones. Go tell a farmer, construction worker or someone else involved in physical labour that they can only work for one day then take several days off to “recover” and they will laugh at you. They would probably love it if it was true and they really could work for just a few days per week, but still – they will laugh at you.
I’ve had a discussion with Pilon about this, and although we don’t agree on everything (70-120g for everyone regardless of size, age, deficit/surplus or training history), he is also on to something.
I will cover carbs, although that’s not really all that complicated IMO. I just let it scale with training volume, and adjust according to bf% and insulin sensitivity (the leaner you are, the more carbs you can handle) – and staple foods are fruits, white rice, sweet potato/yams and potatoes. Or maybe it is, come to think about it 🙂
So Olympiatoppen was right all along, with their claims of a normal, Norwegian diet being optimal for protein requirements? Kinda makes me ashamed of hating on them for so long if thats the case.
Well…sort of. See, what is a “normal” diet these days? Look into the shopping cart of the person next to you in line at the grocery store. The average protein consumption of a normal, Norwegian diet is in the range of 60-80g (from food logs recorded throughout my 15+ years of working with people) – so about half of what I recommend here.
Reading your articles,interviews,comments,… is always a blessing.
Keep up the good,independent work.
Many thanks for this very instructive article. I workout three days a week from 17:30 to 19:00. My post workout meal is even my dinner. If I’ve good understood I do well if I eat the great part of carbs (and calories) in this meal also in the rest days without impair insuline sensitivity. On training days I skip breakfast (leangains style IF). On rest days I eat a low carb breakfast (2-3 entire eggs, 15 gr of almonds and peanuts, 150 gr of yougurt with fat milk) to take advanced of enhanced protein synthesys. My lunch is always low carb. My actual goal is to burn body fat and maintain (or add a little of) muscles.
Thanks for sharing. Was there a question in there?
Yes Borge. After the reading of this interesting discussion I’m not sure anymore if it’s better to eat my usual amount of carbs (abt 150 gr) every evening, or if it’s better to limit carbs in the training days to 30-50 gr and eat more carbs in the rest days (always 150 gr). Many thanks in advance for your answer.
I would never limit carbs to 50g on training days unless your bodyfat is really high and you’re doing a short-term low-carb diet. I have 50kg girls on 200g of carbs and losing fat just nicely.
I’m currently doing a PSMF which I plan to wrap up at the end of this week at about 11-12% bodyfat. Because of the severe deficit I’ve had my protein at 270g/day (I’m a small lifter at 160 lbs with a maintenance of around 2200-2300 kcal).
I’m planning on moving towards a more moderate deficit of 500kcal/day after the PSMF. This would put me at about 1700kcal/day. I was going to aim for Lyle’s suggestion of 1.5g/lb of LBM and get in about 225g protein/day. From there I was going to get about 1g of carbs per lb of LBM and the rest of the calories from fat.
After reading this I’m doubting I need close to the 225g of protein per day and personally I’d rather eat more carbs.
Would I spare LBM if I kept the same 1700 kcal/day intake but lowered my protein intake in order to raise my carb intake? Maybe 180g-200g of protein a day?
Yes, you should be fine. Carbs are also protein-sparing.
This is true. I’m curious to know how protein-sparing carbs are on a diet. I’m guessing it’s not a 1:1 ratio with protein.
How low could I bring protein while keeping a 500kcal deficit and still spare LBM if carbs replace the protein? Some days it can be difficult to get in enough protein when I’m out and about, busy all day.
Carbs are always protein sparing. If you bring fats really low you can bring carbs higher, as well. The recommendations in the post still stands. 2g/kg LBM or 0.8g/lbs is my recommendation – if you use whey or some BCAAs you can get away with less, obviously.
This is very interesting. For my curiosity, your current intake of 1 gr of carbs per LB of LBM is for a precise reason or it’s only the result of your experience? I’m also involved in a sort of rapid fat loss program. My bodyweight is 153 lbs (BF 15%) and in three months I’ve not registered visible muscles loss. Instead It seems that in certain body zones the muscle mass is augmented. My protein intake is about 90-100 gr and, how I’ve I wrote above, I train my entire body (with the myo-reps) three times at week. As Brat Pilon often underlines, studies indicate that weight training is the key to spare muscles, and a very big amount of protein perhaps is only a waste of money. This seems plausible if carbs intake isn’t almost zero as in a PSF but it’s above 100 gr.
Carbs are always individualized and this range is what works for me at the moment, at my current macros, at my current training setup – don’t take it as a guideline.
I love that you named him “Brat” Pilon…
hahahah… poor Brad… it was a mistake! :-))))
Many thanks again for your time Borge. 😉
Wait, so is that 1.5-2.0 g/kg NOT counting low protein sources like bread and only high protein sources?
Excellent article as usual, Borge!
How do fat macros fit into this then? Taking for example someone who’s dieting on an average of 1,900 cals/day (varies, using a zig-zag approach) and 145g protein or 580 cals covers protein needs at 2.0g/kg/lb of lean mass, how would you distribute the rest of the macros?
I’ve currently been doing 33/33/33 as I definitely do better on higher carbs, with smaller protein w/ fruit carb based meals during the day, and usually one large feast at night making up the majority of calories. However I haven’t been restricting fat in the evenings, just hitting my macros whatever is still called for. Some days fat is as high as 120g/day, and as much as 40-60g of this can come in the large evening meal. Usually eating 4-5 meals/day and currently mid 8% bodyfat.
Thinking I may be better off limiting overall fat intake more, and especially in the evenings, while keeping protein around the 2.0g/kg/lb lean mass and making up the rest with carbs. But just how much fat is enough, or recommended?
Any clarification would be appreciated! Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Depends on what works better for you, fats or carbs. I have an extensive questionnaire I go through with clients before setting up diets for them, so without knowing anything about you I can’t really give you a useful answer. You have to look at if your current setup is working for you, and if not – adjust it. That doesn’t mean you should flip-flop everything at the same time, but if you lower protein to 2g/kg (0.8g/lbs) then I usually suggest increasing carbs – at least on training days.
A further thought about the protein issue. It seems that last researches confirm the old statement about the maximum amount of 30 gr of protein for each meal that body can handle. So this isn’t a mith as many people say today.
I want also report to your attention the following article of Mauro de Pasquale on carbs eating after exercise (post-exercise carbohydrates may be counter-productive). I know that de Pasquale emphasizes the “bad side” of post-workout carbs assumption due to justify his Metabolic Diet also for mass gaining, but I think It’s however a good article.
The body can handle as much protein as you throw at it, that’s not the issue here – the issue is seeing how many grams it takes to max out Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS), so it’s not as if the rest is just wasted.
I’ve read Pasquales article and a couple of years ago I, in fact, also recommended the no-carbs PWO approach. There is, however, no proof that this has any beneficial effects except for perhaps a prolonged higher insulin sensitivity. Most all research shows that placing carbs post-workout will lead to improved recovery and nutrient partitioning. In practice, the no-carb PWO led to insatiable hunger – I could eat 2lbs of meat with added fats, we’re easily talking 100g of protein and 100g of fat…and still be hungry. I can now have 30-40g of protein and 30-40g of carbs and feel great.
I still place the majority of carbs for the evening meals, though – if I train around 4-5PM I usually split the carbs evenly between my post-workout meal and the evening meal.
This thread is a true mine of useful informations. 🙂 Can we say that if I will eat abt 80-100 gr of carbs in the evening meal (which is also my post-workout meal) I will have some of the advantages of eating carbs togheter proteins without saturate glycogen depots and this leads to a better insulin sensitivity during the next day of rest? (my WO lasts 1,5h and is quite intensive). If this is true, then in the rest day a bigger amount of carbs could be gradually eaten. Better if in the evening meal according to the Biorythm Diet principles (i.e. 200 gr in the evening meal and 40-50 gr during the rest of the day… considering my personal intake).
Yes, but I really don’t see why you wouldn’t refill muscle glycogen when you have the chance. Why wait until the rest day when you’re not really burning a lot of calories and creating a sink for incoming carbs?
The sink was created by the previous workout and it will be filled slowly in more than 24 hours rather than in few hours. if I’ve understood correctly the Dipasquale’s article, insulin sensitivity and protein synthesis will decrease when glycogen depots are filled. So if I won’t replenish them immediately after WO but slowly during the next day of rest, perhaps it can be more productive for muscle gains.
He wrote: “capacity for glycogen synthesis, and everything that goes with it, can persist for several days if the muscle glycogen concentration is maintained below normal levels by carbohydrate restriction. By keeping carbs low and protein and energy high after training, you can increase protein synthesis over a prolonged period of time and get long term anabolic effect.”
So glycogen depots won’t be refilled within few hours but at the end of the rest days. If calories on rest days are below the maintenance level (for body recomposition purposes), the risk of gaining fat due to any excess of carbs (if any) will be avoided.
Except that there is no evidence I am aware of that amino acid sensitivity or protein synthesis tracks with insulin sensitivity, nor does it decrease with glycogen compensation – quite the contrary in fact.
According to BioRhythm Diet these are the reasons why not to completely refill muscle glycogen, and the role of glycogen compensation in amino acid uptake.
Could you please clarify?
Keep up the good work, Clood
“Also, I’m going to argue that slightly delaying complete glycogen (super)compensation will maintain a higher insulin sensitivity, i.e. insulin can do its job at shuttling nutrients into the muscle more efficiently if it’s not completely full.
Noted scientists Kevin D. Tipton specializing in amino acid and protein research has mentioned in a paper I just can’t seem to dig up right now, that a cell-full phenomena which would happen if you supercompensated glycogen stores decreases amino acid uptake and increases oxidation (it is burned off as energy instead of used for growth).
Hence, keeping a slight nutrient deficit by prioritizing protein intake and saving up carbs for later seems like an even more interesting thought, doesn’t it?”
Yeah, I’m not completely convinced that one should delay glycogen supercompensation post-workout, so depending on the individual diet setup I might have someone load hard after training. If it’s early in the day, some find that loading up on carbs makes them sleepy and bloated – so saving up for the evening meal is a good thing from an adherence perspective even if we can’t find any hard evidence that there are some protein synthesis benefits from it.
Borge, two questions on this great blog post:
– will a combination of recommendations on maximum protein per meal given in this article and general principles of BioRythm diet work best? So, for example, four meals, 50 gramms of protein each, first three lower in calories and higher in fats and the last one giving the majority of carbs, but lower in fats? I ask because to slowly gain I have to eat about 3800-4000 cals a day and to cover this much calories, I would have to eat like 250-300g of carbs in the last meal, that is, if I limit fats to about 120-150g per day.
– do you think that these recommendations would also be optimal for ”assisted” lifters?
Slightly more protein in the last meal, but yes – I always use the Biorhythm principles. I have 60kg girls eating 300g of carbs in the last meal, so I don’t think you will have a problem with that.
For assisted lifters, I can go either way. A lot of research shows that amino acids are utilized with an even higher efficiency – i.e. less protein is needed, but we also know that the rate of MPS is higher – i.e. more protein should be beneficial. I’d say that anything beyond 2.5-3g/kg protein (>1.3g/lbs) is unneeded, even for assisted lifters.
>Slightly more protein in the last meal, but yes – I always use the Biorhythm principles.
Here i guess you would opt for slower digesting source (casien).
Last few meals and post-workout meals are usually heavier in calories as well?
My first three meals on a non-workout day are usually 700-800 calories each, while last meal is about 1600-1800 cals.
I said casein and/or eggs in the blog post, yes.
Last question, Blade:
– Do you agree with Layne Norton’s idea on supplementing with BCAAs in between meals to keep MPS active?
I’m still not sure that it will add any long-term results when protein intake is sufficient, so I just find it a little OCD for my tastes…but sure, go ahead and try it.
Top notch information, as always!
Limiting protein intake to 25g per meal during the day really does make life easier (and cheaper).
I got one question though:
Nowadays, how important do you think it is to keep carb intake in those meals equally low? (carb to protein ratio of max. 1:1 as per your earlier article on that topic)
Any real-life drawbacks of having meals with about 25g protein and 40g carbs, while the majority of carbs are still being consumed before bedtime?
Depends on what your goals are. If you feel good with a 40g/25g ratio that’s all that matters. I personally prefer to save up carbs for post-workout and the evening, but I also feel tired and sluggish with carbs earlier in the day.
Ok, so if I feel fine with slightly more carbs, there is no additional favourable partitioning effect to be gained from sticking to a 1:1 ratio? (in the context of slight overfeeding, “lean gaining”)
I would say there definitely seems to be some positive partitioning effects by keeping carbs under control prior to the workout, yes. But if you have high insulin sensitivity and handle carbs well, have a higher activity level and generally do some damage in the gym – you should be fine with a higher carb/protein ratio, though.
What do you of oatmeal as a staple carb source? Believe it or not, I’m not a big fan of white rice/rice in general. :p
Not a big fan personally, lots of people (including myself) get bloated and sleepy from it – but if it works for you, go ahead.
I see. What about ezekielbread?
What about it? You are a grown man I assume, so I’m not going to give you validation on every imagineable food choice you can think of. I personally stick to fruits, veggies, white rice and some sweet potatoes (food intolerance with potatoes, but they are also a great carb source). I don’t freak out over it if I happen to eat a cinnabun or a piece of chocolate, if that’s what I want – I just know what makes me function best and feel good so 90% of the time those are the foods I stick to. YMMV
Another good reading. Question from a typical overanalyzer: I see that you’ve left out carbs in your pre-workout meal (different from previous recommendings, i.e regarding Nitrofuel). Is this because you don’t think it’s necessary, or because your current setup consists of “short” trainings? And do you think Nitrofuel still has its place in trainings which lasts longer (in my case, high intensity martial arts with1,5-2 h passes)?
I use carbs pre-workout (Nitro Fuel) on occasion, and scale it according to needs and wants.
Ok. When you follow your own guidelines stated in the article, I guess you get lots of carbs in your diet. So I wonder if you then bother to refeed as well? Would think that some of the effect with refeeds is gone with a higher carb intake in the diet?
You get a nice refeed effect by eating carbs in the evening, yes – but I do prefer to have a day per week where I go above maintenance calories, IF the rest of the week is a calorie deficit and IF someone is lean enough to need it.
What? So I shouldn’t refeed if I’m on a high calorie surplus and hav duble digit fat percentage? Damn:-)
Thx again. And mad props for sharing your knowledge!!
Hvor mye anbefaler du å ligge på når det gjelder fettinntak på diett for en mann? Tenker pr. kg kroppsvekt. Hva er minimum og hva er anbefalt? Lurer forøvrig på karb med det samme, selv om karb vel er vanskelig å si med tanke på forskjellig aktivitetsnivå osv.
Men det er vel en viss minimums fettgrense man ikke bør gå over for å ikke forstyrre vitale funksjoner?
Det kan jeg ikke gi deg noe godt svar på, det handler om kontekst. I stor grad klarer du deg med kun 2-3g EPA+DHA pr dag, men det er jo studier som indikerer at fettinntaket på lengre sikt med fordel kan være minst 20% av kaloriene for å bevare testosteronproduksjonen. Det må imidlertid sees i sammenheng med hvordan du setter opp dietten forøvrig, og om du er i overskudd eller underskudd, her er det få fasitsvar. Som regel havner det et sted mellom 0,5-1,5g/kg kroppsvekt. Når kcal og protein er bestemt, kan du skalere karb og fett ut fra dine behov og ønsker.
Borge, how does someone get in contact with you about your training services?
Yeah, sorry about that. I’m on my webguy for getting the info up, but shoot me an e-mail: email@example.com
Ok, so I apologize if I’m being a pain in the ass (I probably am), but I was wondering if this is a good setup wrt the Biorythm-guidelines? Is the carb intake in the last meal too high? Training day, btw.
M1 (11-12am) – 25g protein, 20g carbs, 20g fat
Before training (3:30pm) – 20g protein, 20g carbs, 5g fat (trace)
Training from 4-5pm
After training (5pm) – 30g protein, 40g carbs, 15g fat
1hr walk with the dog from 6-7pm
M4 (8-9PM) – 45g protein, 300g carbs, 10g fat
Total: ~2500kcals, 120g protein, 380g carbs, 50g fat
62kg, male (I think). Goal is to gain weight.
Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowlegde with us, Borge. I greatly admire your character.
As for calories, as long as it is slightly above what you are maintaining on, it is fine.
I would move a lot more carbs post-workout, you could easily triple it there.
Thanks! How would you modify the macros for a non-training day?
You just drop the pre- and post-workout carb+pro intakes. Depending on goals you might go lower carbs, it depends.
Adding onto Chris’ question, would a proper set-up look about the same as the one he posted if someone’s goal was fat loss, so long as overall calories were kept below maintenance? IE still eating a ton of carbs in the evening/post workout taking into account scaling fat intake up if a person’s bodyfat level is higher, and scaling fat intake down if they are already lean (under 10%)?
Also, “I would move a lot more carbs post-workout, you could easily triple it there.”… 900g of carbs for a 62kg guy? Wow!
Ummm…he was having 40g of carbs post-workout in the plan he posted, so 120g not 900.
A fat loss plan would require a deficit, that is correct. The specific setup would depend on the individual, obviously.
Doh, my bad – I was looking at the largest carb intake (300g in M4) for the total evening/PWO window. That makes sense, thanks!
quick question: For off days, I am going to lower my carbs…probably down to around 100g (250ish on training days). These carbs are partially to rebuild from the training day before (I lift MWF) and prepare for the next days session. Do you recommend starchy carbs or fruit? And should I have them generally around my last meal of the day?
I hope I’m clear with my question. I recently found your sites and have been diving into your articles. So far I’m really enjoying what I’m reading and looking forward to a book if you’re still working on it!
Thank you for the kind words…
Why either/or? Have both fruits and starches. Last meal or two, yes.
After experiencing a bunch of weird symptoms for some time now, as well as monitoring my blood glucose levels, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have (mild) reactive hypoglycemia.
Do you think it’s wise for me to continue following the Biorythm guidelines, especially in regards to the high carb intake at night? One advice given to people with reactive hypoglycemia is to decrease the total intake of carbs, and since my goal is to bulk, I’m currently consuming in the range of 350-450g carbs per day (60g fat, 120-150g protein, 62kg bodyweight).
An example of a training-day:
6-7am: 30g carbs, 30g protein, 20g fat
11-12am: 40g carbs, 30g protein, 15g fat
3:30pm, before training: 40g carbs, 5g BCAA
5pm, after training: 140g carbs, 40g protein, 15g fat
8pm: 160g carbs, 50g protein, 10g fat
I go hypoglycemic at 9-10-11am, as well as 1-2-3pm…
Well, then decrease total carbs. 410g is a lot for a guy your size.
Does a higher proteinintake with some of the meals and hence higher leucine content lower overall protein-synthesis, or is just 2,5-3 g the lowest amount that gives optimal results? You may have explained this, but my english isn`t 100%…
Does it matter if you use fish-oil at larger doses a couple of times pr week instead of daily? From what I understand I gets stored i fat tissue and used at demand?
Anyways, I really like that you share stuff like this with “weekend warriors” like many of us. Keep up the good stuff. I guess there will be a few more words on protein from you, though they may be more of a evolutionary and not revolutionery kind 🙂
A higher protein intake increases protein oxidation, I’m not sure we can say that a single meal would lower overall protein synthesis and I suspect it won’t. A chronically high protein intake might, thought.
I think you should be fine with a higher intermittent intake of fish oil, yes.
The final word on protein has yet to be published, I’m sure – but nowadays I’m thinking that just eating more by hunger and demand is much better than a static and predetermined intake. Both wrt meal frequency/patterns and macros/calories.
I have a few questions. I am a 120 lb male at 5 9 and obviously trying to gain weight lol. I have been getting in around 50 grams of fat, 220 grams of protein (!), and 275 grams of carbs. WHat digestive issues did you notice went away with less protein, just less bloating? Its funny because many people seem to blame bloating on carbs (they could just be eating the wrong carbs as well, but like you I stick to white basmati and jasmin rice, white potatoes, yams, and fruit. Post workout I will use a karbolyn drink or a drink with cyclin dextrins.).
I also am curious in trying the biorythm diet. I have normally just spread carbs throughout the day and focused the majority around my workout, which is normally around noon. How do you recommend structuring carb intake if I can only train at that time?
I have only tried eating the majority of my carbs in the evening a few times and when I did I always felt a bit bloated the next morning. Do you think it was just such a major change in eating habits could take a few days or a week or two for the body to get used to before it becomes “normal” to it?
my usual day normally looks like
my fats split evenly over 5 meals, and carbs are
meal 1/pre workout meal = 50 carbs
post workout shake = 55-60
meal 2/post workout meal = 50-60
meal 3/mid day meal = 20-30
meal4/dinner = 50-60
meal 5/small meal or shake before bed is 10-20 grams carbs
First of all, your protein intake is way to high. I am 220lbs and eat less than you. So try lowering your protein to 120g and increasing carbs to 375 first.
Would it be worthwhile shifting some of the carbs from the periworkout period (maybe 10 or so from pre/post shake/post meal, each) and moving them to dinner to make it the largest carb meal, or is keeping it the way it is fine? WHich do you find leads to the best results in most of your clients?
A 10g difference is irrelevant.
I meant 10 from each of those 3 meals, so iI Would go down from 50-60 to 40-50 in each of those meals, then up the last meal30-50 (however many I take off from the others)
Will do. Do you think that alone without a calorie increase (since I will be eating the same cals, just more carbs) may translate tomore growth? Also, should I count any supplemental bcaas or eaas I use during the workout towards y overall protein intake?
You think there is no need to do the bio rythm style now either?
Thanks again borge (that (r)ice cream with protein, rice, and pumpkin looks pretty dan tasty btw. Try mixing some greek yogurt in there too to give it more of an ice cream consistency!
I still see a Biorhythm pattern in your food intake, carbs focused around workout and in the evening. I have no problems with 20-30g of carbs for the other meals or a small protein feeding just before bedtime.
You may see some differences from the changes, but you will also have more room for a calorie increase once you get the ratios optimized.
hey borge. I wanted to ask you about something that I never get a clear answer. I’ve read that a normal sized meal (with protein carbs fat fiber) takes about 6-8 hours to get digested. So if I have such a meal 2-3 hours before my training does it mean that I don’t need to eat for even 4-5 hours after workout?In general ,does pre workout nutrition eliminate the need to eat something soon after training? I know all studies have been done on fasted subjects so does any of post workout benefits apply to not fasted trainees? thanks alot!!
It varies on the meal composition and size, so some meals might just take 3-5hrs to digest. Even if you have food still digesting from the last meal you can get a protein synthesis response, depending on the protein source – i.e. some hydrolyzed proteins, EAAs and BCAAs bypass the other nutrients during digestion.
so you think that whey or BCAAs are better for the postworkout meal? I thought that when you combine a fast digesting protein with a slow one the whole mixture is slow digesting.
I personally use BCAAs and whey pre-workout and eat a regular meal post.
what about fat and the GI of carbs in post workout meal? do you think it doesn’t make a difference anyway? also how soon do you recommend eating it?
I think, in general it makes less of a difference than a lot of people think, especially those who spend more time obsessing about details rather than making sure the fundamentals are in place. Don’t be one of those people.
Borge what do you think about IF? (intermittent fasting)
This time arround I’m trying to combine your ideas with IF
My pan looks like this:
1pm meal1 – 30g protein, 30g fat (eggs, butter)
3-4pm meal2 – 40g protein, 40g carbs (whey,cream of rice)
pwo have a shake – 40g protein, 40g carbs (whey iso,dextro)
8-9pm – 100g protein, 200g carbs, 10-20g fat (meat,rice, poatoe, toast, bagel)
210g protein ; 280g carbs ; 50g fat
What do you think?
I’m 220lbs 9%b at 6’1
IF is an eating pattern that fits some people’s lifestyle, I haven‘t really found any major benefits that you can’t get from simply keeping carbs low in the first part of the day. If you try IF and can never get over the morning hunger, IF isn‘t for you. If you feel like you have to force feed breakfast because you think it is good for you, IF is going to be very liberating.
I’m going to assume your goal is bodyfat reduction, and knowing nothing about you I’d say the calories seem a tad low, bu you just have to try it and evaluate progress.
Actually it was hard at first to not eat breakfast and now I’m just not hungry at all in the morning, I’m not even hungry before meals1 and 2, but have huge apetite pwo. While in the past I was alwaays starving in the morning and then 2-3 hours my post morning meal.
I might add some carbs prew (as I think I have enough protein, fats during the day and carbs pwo, so added prew carbs would be the best probably)
I’ve just been reading an interview with yourself, and you mention that morning BCAAs would be useful to someone who enjoys an IF way of eating but wants to bulk.
a) The article:
seems to suggest that taking leucine/BCAAs would interfere with the benefits of fasting due to blunting AMPK. Any thoughts, or have I simply understood the article incorrectly?
b) Wouldn’t the signal to cause MPS from ingesting, say 10g of BCAAs, be wasted as the body can’t build muscle out of just BCAA alone?
a) true, but I still feel that the benefits of having some protein feedings and shortening the fasting period outweighs the potential benefits of fasting for longer. There is simply not sufficient data on people with a lot of training experience to say for sure yet. I would actually recommend a 12hr fasting period over 14-16hrs.
b) there is still a free amino acid pool to supply the rest of it from, but I do prefer whey or a protein-based meal instead of BCAAs, yes.
Thanks Borge 🙂
I love eating IF as a lifestyle choice, and have had great success cutting, but felt the strength gains on my last bulk were low compared to the weight I gained. I read Mike Tuchscherer’s article about how BCAAs worked for him during the fast, but the article had a link to a supplement store at the bottom which automatically made me a bit suspicious. I’ve got some BCAAs to use up so will try 10g on waking and see if I notice any difference this bulk, but if BCAAs break the fast then I might as well just have a whey shake.
Sorry to bother you again, but would the importance of the extra meal (and shortened fast) diminish further away from training? Would the following, for example, give a good compromise if training EOD:
training day: 16 hour fast followed by 3 meals around training
rest day: 12 hour fast (i.e. sleep) followed by 4 meals
Thanks again 🙂
You are worrying about minutiae. Stop it.
Borge, out of curiosity (and a bit of paranoia) at what age does the research suggest doubling the protein intake per meal? Should I be thinking about it over 40?
FYI:I have been eating 1,2-1,5 g/kg of protein for 2 months now.
Obviously,I ve been eating more carbs and fats.Feel better than ever,no strenght loss (just gains,same as before) and no hunger problems (much to the contrary,indeed).
WO 4days/week(mainteannce at off days;20% above on WO days).
what time frame would you give for post workout meal/shake? is within an hour fine or maybe up to 2 hours?also what do you think about the protocol of drinking a protein shake within let’ssay 30 min and then eating a solid meal afer an hour or so? thanks a lot
As long as you:
1. Get sufficient protein during the day
2. Have some protein in the vicinity of the pre-workout period
3. Have some protein in the vicinity of the post-workout period
…you will do fine. Hunger is a pretty good indicator. If you ate some steak and eggs an hour before training and you’re not hungry until 2hrs post-workout, I really doubt you will miss out on even a few milligrams of muscle growth.
thanks for taking the time to answer me. also if I count protein from carb and fat sources, do you consider 2gr/kg to be enough?
Hi Borge, first time writing here so hello to all.
Dont’ you find that with 3-4 meals, given that caloric intake per meal is far greater than 6 meals, make you noticeably sleepy and bloated?
I used to eat 3 big meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) + PW shake, all around 800-1000 kcal x meal.
Now that i eat 6 meals a day of 400-500 kcal, with only lunch that reach 700, im a lot more productive in the afternoon.
That said, this is a topic a bit different from maximum efficacy in the gym, to go into maximum efficacy in the life 😉
Quite the contrary. More meals may lead to impaired glucose control, you get used to feeding every 2-3hrs and at 4hrs – boom, hypoglycemia and hunger. (yes, I’m being facetous). Obviously you may be more bloated when you increase calories per meal, but that depends on food selection and not just on calories.
> he’s also recently shown that it’s the amount of WORK you do that determines
> how big your muscles can get – not necessarily the load
Borge, that research probably involved previously untrained subject, and at that level any type of training is equally good. But then RBE catches up with your progress and you just *have* to increase the load. Do you believe otherwise?
I just found your Blog and I am so impressed. I really love it!
I’m interested in Fitness for many years, but I have a problem. I am a skinny fat guy. I have no muscularity and you can see my bones, BUT i have also huge lovehandles (around the belly).
I really dont know what to do, because I need musclemass, but also my love handles look so disgusting. So i struggle all my live about: should I bulk or cut the ugly lovehandles. nothing really worked. ok, bulking worked for me, but i was gettin very fat. i loss 10-15kg and i am skinny again, but with these ugly love handles…
it would be awesome i you can give me tipps and help!
Well, your problem – if we disregard any possible hormonal issues which a blood test can confirm – is probably one of consistency. You need to pick a program and gradually progress load and volume over months and years. Nutritionally, your bulk/cut strategy obviously haven’t worked, so I suggest a very moderate deficit where you only lose 300-400g on average per week until you get down into single digit bodyfat (or 10% at the most), then you may gradually and step-wise increase calories. When making adjustments, only add or subtract 200kcals at a time. I also suggest adding in 1-2 PSMF days per week for creating a higher deficit instead of cutting kcals on all days – training days should always maintain calories as high as possible
I drink about 2l milk every day. I weight 76 kilograms. Taking into account that my main source of protein is milk, your protein recommendation would be 90-115 grams of protein, counting only milk, meat, and other high-quality sources. That’s right?
I think that is a lot of milk to consume, but you should be fine with around 120g of protein per day, yes.
Do you agree with Layne Norton, who claims that for childs-teenager, the anabolic intaque of protein is lower (1.5-2.2/kg of bodyweight, taking into account the low-quality sources)?
That should be plenty for a growing child, yes.
Then I weight 76 kilograms, I’m 17 years old, 120 grams taking into account low protein sources (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread…) is enough for maximal muscle growth, right?
Yes, but there is nothing dangerous about going to 2g/kg bw, and I would use that for you.
Borge, are you still using the 1:1 ratio of carbs/protein for early meals? Has there been any follow up research on that in Norway?
Ok, I found this recent interview from fitnessbloggen and found my answer!
Hope it helps others here-
Yes, I am, but it might not be right for you.
No, not yet.
Cool, thanks Borge. I work on a production line building cars and find the 1:1 ratio is about the lowest in carbs I can go without feeling drained during the working day. I have found the sweet spot for me atm. My first meals are ‘zonish’ then my last meal is higher in carbs (2:1 or even up to 4:1 after heavy training).
I have 3 meals a day, most of fat at breakfast and most of carbs at evening. I workout at evening. I have almost all protein at lunch and dinner, and very little at breakfast. Is that bad or irrelevant if I have enough protein? I guess breakfast the day after workout maybe I should have some protein.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
30g for breakfast
On a PSMF, for a 78 kgs male, with a BF% of 10-12, 200 grams of protein is fine, or would you recommend more/less?
That is 2.5g/kg bodyweight and should be fine, yes.
Borge, is this routine fine for PSMF?
One arm Dumbbell Row 2×5-8
Dumbbell Bench Press 2×5-8
Cuad Extesions 2×5-8
Leg Curl 1×5-8
Lateral Raises 2×8-10
DB Biceps Curl 2×8-10
Triceps Extensions 2×8-10
Abs/Low Back 2×6-8
2-3′ rest between sets
I cant thank you enough for all the great info you put out for free. I’ve been using the principles from Biorhythm & Advanced Concept with great success.
My protein intake has always been on the high side (3g/kg), but after reading this article I am going to try reducing the protein amount in favor of more carbs.
I’m 85kg, 10% bf, advanced lifter, slight caloric deficit. Does this look suitable?
160g Pro (from legit sources), Probably 185g total (inc. rice & potatoes)
Thank you very much.
Without knowing anything about you except your bodyweight and bf% – sure, the numbers look fine. Carb/fat ratios, calories etc will need to be tailored individually and according to progress.
Thank you for the response.
Would clenbuterol use be adviseable with the above macros (eaten according to biorhythm principles)? Or is it best to lower the overall carbohydrate intake while using?
Clen has no bearing on what macros or calories, the diet should be set up for fat loss and clen will enhance fat loss while sparing muscle.
How much protein is needed to maintain LBM on a MAINTENANCE diet?
Approx 1.2-1.8g/kg bodyweight (or lbm if the bodyfat % is very high).
Do you still advocate the Health & Fitness Concept (‘Fruit Diet’) with your clients?
Would/Do you utilize it in an different manner now, such as incorporating the BioRhythm principles?
I very much like the framework you provided, especially for periods in which you would want to reduce food OCD… by not weighing and measuring everything.
Speaking of which, can you comment on your personal observations with respect to weighing/measuring foods? Is this something you you do year-round? Only during fat-loss dieting? I’ve seen your posts on Lyles forums stating “My OCD is strong”, just curious how you manage this. I know I personally would like to reduce my reliance / OCD with food measuring.
If youve written any articles or blog posts related to this, I would greatly appreciate a link.
I will use the Biorhythm Diet with more standardized meal times, as meal time regularity is highly beneficial from a hunger management perspective. I still allow people to go by hunger and listen to what their bodies are craving – so i.e. if someone have cravings for sweets, I will add more fruits/berries to the first meal(s) of the day and sometimes lower fats (if they feel that it slows down digestion or otherwise feel uncomfortable with higher fats). If someone is craving salty, fatty stuff – we up the fats and save carbs for the post-WO and/or last meal only.
I always recommend people weigh and measure their food for at least 1-2 weeks until they get more accurate in visual estimations of food portions. I also recommend some regular verification every couple of months, depending on how lean they get, their visual estimations will be skewed towards larger portion sizes…not surprisingly so.
You have no idea how liberating your RPE, Myo-reps and health and fitness concept have been for a fellow OCD perfectionist. Its like my mind has been freed and I have triple the amount of mental RAM
I want to get lean this summer, and want to try your biorythem diet, but I had a quick question.
What are your guidelines for rest days? Just three protein and fat meals? With mabye a small bowl of fruit after dinner?
Also I’m assuming the guidelines for protein and is the same as health and fitness concept during the day (50g or so per meal, if your still hungry a half hour later eat a peice of fruit, if your still hungry then eat another meal)
I just realized that your protein rec’s are in this article. I don’t know how I overlooked that.
I travel to Africa 1-2 every year, and there the protein is an issue. There some days I’m not able to eat even 1g/kg of protein. My question, is, taking into account that my only activity during those days is office work and full body routine twice a week (very short, just for muscle mass maintenance)…
If I maintain strength during those 3-6 weeks… Should I worry about muscle loss?
If you maintain strength, and if you get overall calories to maintenance levels or slightly above – no.
That’s the case. Thanks Børge, you are awesome 😉
Thanks a lot for a really interesting articles – gonna try your method next week!
Male, 32 years old, 80 Kg, 12 % bf, advanced, 5 trainings\week. I`m on leangains, planning to bulk muscle.
Is this a good plan for me?:
1. Training day
180 g protein – 470 g carbs – 70 g fat
+ 10 g Bcaa pre-workout and 30 g Whey post-workout.
2. Rest day
150 g protein – 245 g carbs – 60 g fat
+ 30 g Whey.
Thanks, and have a nice day!
There is no way of answering that without knowing what you have been doing before, or more information on you and how you function. I go through an extensive process when setting up diets for a client, so anything I tell you will be a generic answer at best. I think your calories sound kinda high. Unless you have a crazy fast metabolism, the training day calories should be at 3000-3300kcals. Rest day calories can be at anywhere from PSMF levels to 2000-2500kcals depending on how many high vs. low calorie days you have (ie. weekly avg calorie balance) and goals. I would say that at 12% bf you should try leaning out or do a recomp phase before attempting any bulking strategy.
I have been using BioRhythm for quite some time now (over a year), with great results. I’ve written about my experience with the diet on my blog, trying my best to spread the word about your work.
Now that I’ve reached a relatively lean state (pics in the link & on the blog), I find that the morning meals leave me feeling somewhat sluggish and not as energized as in the past. I have been utilizing a 1:1 ratio of protein:carbs in the morning meals, typically around 35g of each (berries + veggies), with 20-30g of fat. My fat total for the day has been around 85g.
Have any of your clients experienced this? I know that being lean warrants a higher total carbohydrate intake (with subsequently less fat), but should I experiment with a higher ratio than 1:1 in the morning meals?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Yes, it happens when you get into a bf% territory uncommon for you and your genetic setpoint. The first strategy I would try is to drop carbs really low during the day, then add them back in at the evening meals and/or post-workout. Give it a week or so to adapt. You could also try a slightly higher protein intake. Remember to place at least 0.6g and up to 1g/kg bodyweight in protein for the evening meal.
More than a year later, I’m still utilizing the priciples of your BioRhythm diet.
I’m currently in a fat-loss phase, in very similar condition compared to my post above (10% bodyfat or slightly below). Recently I have began noticing the same symptoms as prior; intense cravings for sweet foods (especially fruit) as well as less energy throughout the day compared to weeks/months past. This is while using the 1:1 protein to carb ratio in the morning meals.
When I remembered this exchange I had with you here in the comments, I implemented your suggestions and things have began to improve again, so thank you again for helping me out.
Finally, the question; Can you explain why cutting down the breakfast & lunch carbs seems to work so well at this stage? What exactly is happening when I cross that specific threshold of bodyfat, which brings on these cravings? Your suggestion was pretty counter-intuitive to me, considering that all my body signals are telling me to increase the amount of carbs at those meals. I’d simply like to understand whats going on behind the scenes, metabolically speaking.
Thanks and Regards.
You are simply at a point where you don’t have sufficient fat (stored or incoming) to convert into ketones and provide an optional fuel for the brain, and carbs will prevent the production of said ketones. By lowering carbs in the early meals you can get some ketogenesis going again and feel better. Still, intense cravings for sweets and hunger in general is a sign that you are very close to or even below your bodyfat setpoint, where things start going haywire. Unless you are planning to compete or do a photoshoot, I would consider increasing your overall carb and/or fat intake (depending on where you are at now).
In other words, start reversing out of the caloric deficit? I am not planning to compete/photo, but do have aspirations of reaching a leaner state than I am now.
To get to this level of leanness my intake has been roughly 185p, 250-275c & 55-65f. My weight loss has stalled at this point (83 – 84kg) and I haven’t decided yet to cut down my intake further or maintain/reverse diet.
Can you prescribe a general range of daily fat intake for someone around my stage? Simply a starting point for me to experiment. I don’t know if you still recommend the guidelines in the Advanced Concept diet article.
Thanks for your time and thorough explanation.
I don’t know how lean you are, but like I said – if you are below your genetic setpoint and begin experiencing the negatives of what is basically starvation to the body (hunger, lethargy, reduced thyroid and testosterone output etc), is it really worth pushing it further if you’re aiming for a specific event?
I usually set fats at 30-50% of REE (maintenance calories outside of training).
Thanks for your article. I have generally observed that a lot
of people are desperate to lose weight simply because wish to look slim plus attractive.
On the other hand, they do not continually realize that there are additional benefits so
that you can losing weight also. Doctors declare
that over weight people are afflicted with a variety of health
conditions that can be directly attributed to
their own excess weight. Fortunately that people
who definitely are overweight as well as suffering from a
variety of diseases are able to reduce the severity of their illnesses by means of losing weight.
You’ll be able to see a constant but noted improvement with health when even a slight amount of weight loss is attained.
Do you still recommend fish oil to be taken in the last meal of day, or is it another one of things that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things? Since I stopped IF, my “on the run” breakfast has been a shake + berries + my daily fish oil (2 g EPA/1.5 g DHA). Just wanted to make sure the fish oil isn’t just going to be burned off since it’s the only fat source.
It’s not going to matter too much, you may spread out the dosage, you may have some post-workout…in the end, just make sure you ingest it regularly.
Borge, is this recomendation fine for a 30 hour refeed
1,6 g/kg protein
8 g/kg carbs
30-50 grams of fat
I know nothing about you or your diet, so that is impossible for me to say.
Hello Borge! ) )
As you consider, whether it is possible after training there are fats, in my case it is a handful of nuts… well naturally still I drink protein cocktail, I eat cottage cheese and fruit? Or it will be better to eat them for an hour before training? In grams it is about 30-35 grams of fat.
A lot of fats pre-workout will upset the stomach for some people, so if you like them post-workout – eat them then.
I thank, Borge!
Excellent article Børge!
What do you thing are the best carb sources post workout and how much carbs do you recommend post workout?
I’m curently doing 15 g maltodextrin and 15 g of dextrose in 30 grams of organic whey. I consume 10 gram og BCAA’s pre workout and usually train in a fasted state. My goal is gaining lean bodymass
Best carb sources are rice, I just have a regular meal. Carbs will vary depending on so many factors that I can’t really provide a hard-and-fast rule here…but I usually have my carbs around where my protein is (40-50g) post-workout and then just save up the rest for my evening meal, as per the Biorhythm Diet.
Will check out the diet
Borge do you think that 3,3gr/kg of LBM is enough during a PSMF (I’m 9%BF, 77kg, 174cms) or going as high as 4,4gr/kg is requiered?
I actually see no reason going beyond 2.5g/kg except for satiety reasons. I would rather set the protein around 2g/kg and carbs at protein/2, fats at protein/4 or thereabouts. But then again it isn’t a “true” PSMF anymore…
2,5gr/kg is enough for LBM maintenance, taking into account that i will do it for 8-10 days? Or a more moderate deficit is better?
There is no research showing that more is better, no – regardless of what Helms’ review said – the deficit will be the main determinant.
Should someone expect more LBM loss in a well-done PSMF type of diet than in a more moderate deficit? I mean, the ratio fat:lbm loss is higher, the same, or less?
The deficit depends on the initial bodyfat levels and the experience level of the lifter. A novice can get away with a higher deficit since their muscle growth potential is so high, building muscle and losing fat at the same time. An obese person can run a maximal deficit with essential nutrients only and lose fat without muscle loss. An advanced lifter with low bodyfat should only run a 5% deficit to reduce the chance of muscle loss, but would still have to expect it when getting to competition leanness. So there is no way to answer your question without context.
What are your thoughts on the relative amount of fructose one consumes? For example, you recommend white rice (and potatoes – although you said you have a sensitivity) as a carb source, but outside of that it is largely sweet potatoes and fruit. If someone just gets their carbs from sweet potatoes and fruit, they will be getting a relatively large amount of fructose. Is this optimal?
I know this is focusing too much on the minutiae, but I love to know the minutiae:)
I believe fructose in fruits have less potential to cause problems than the refined variants (HFCS, sugar, pure fructose), as shown by research (can’t recall the reference off hand) where the increased consumption of fructose from fruits lead to improved weight loss and blood lipids. I have dieted on fruits exclusively from carbs (back in my Health & Fitness Concept days) leaning out just fine with 200+g of carbs from fruits every day, providing 40-70g of fructose (depending on source).
The fructose content of a sweet potato is negligible at 3g per 40g of carbs.
So you feel it is completely fine, and just as optimal, to gain muscle/lose fat using only fruits and sweet potatoes as your carb sources (and veggies, of course)?
Just as optimal as what?
Maybe you should read this: http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/is-a-carb-a-carb/
Right now I’m trying to cut from around 10%BF to 8%… Taking into account that I eat like 60 of protein from milk (yogurts or milk) and the rest from meat or fish, could 160-170 grams be enough (my actual weight is 76 kgs more or less)
Yes, that is plenty. I am 100kg+ and get about 160-170g of protein pr day.
Thaks Borge. I have to say that I’m following the recommendations of the article, and I feel fairly better than when I ate a bit more protein (200-220 grams) Better digestion and recovery. with more carbs, at least in my experience
Borge,I’m planning to follow a cut and I would really appreciate your opinion.
77kg, ~10%BF, 19 years old
Diet- 2000 calories, 170 gr protein, 4 meals. My carbs are mainly from milk, yogurt and fruit. The protein is only counting high quality sources.
Monday- 40 mins of running 9-10km/h, like 5-6 kms
Tuesday- Weight training, low volume high intensity (2-3 sets of 6-8 per muscle)
Wed- 40 mins of running 9-10km/h, like 5-6 kms
Thursday- 40 mins of running 9-10km/h, like 5-6 kms
Friday- 40 mins of running 9-10km/h, like 5-6 kms
Saturday- Weight training, low volume high intensity (2-3 sets of 6-8 per muscle)
I will follow this a month or so, my goal is 2-3kgs, so I’m expecting a deficit of 500-750 cals a day
I want to add that I eat 15 gramos of milk protein for breakfast and 30-40 grams at dinner to ensure BCAAS. The rest is mainly from meat(especially turkey)
Not sure I understand, is your goal to reduce your bf% or to be a better runner? Because doing all that running and only a minimum of weight training is not a good strategy if your goal is to get leaner.
My goal is to reduce my BF%
If i am able to maintain weight training intensity (weight on the bar), should I worry?
I would worry more if you are losing strength, not maintaining it.
Ok then If I’m maintaining training intensity in the weight room is a good signal that I am able to do that amount of cardio without muscle loss?
Yes. Still don’t understand why you would follow that strategy unless you are a runner, as there are more effective ways to go about it. I have my clients building muscle and gaining strength throughout a diet. I can guarantee that unless you are a novice, you will at best maintain strength with your setup.
I don’t want to get stronger or bigger. My main objective is to maintain LBM, and be a better runner secondly
Well, in that case – your plan is sound. I would incorporate some sprints or interval work, though…
I recently found this article on the internet:
I train fasted in the morning. Should I anyway have my carbs at my last meal of the day to enhance lean muscle building?
I look forward to see Cybernetic Fitness online.
First of all, I would not advise fasted training if you want to gain muscle mass. At least get some fruit in you, and even though the research is a little vague in this area I feel it is better to be safe than sorry by having 20g of whey, as well.
You should have carbs with all meals, not just with your last meal of the day. The article you linked to is an old one, and an updated version will be posted on the new site I am collaborating with Menno Henselmans on: http://www.cyberneticfitness.com
The article you link in reference to the 2-4-8 meal study seems to indicate that 2 and 4 meals were somewhat more comparable, and only the 8 meal is 30% inferior
“The four-times-a-day group had the most success, with a 30 percent higher rate of protein synthesis than the eight-times-a-day group, which in turn was slightly higher than the twice-a-day group.”
The way it’s written in your article it looks much more like 2 and 8 meals are comparable, and the 4 meals is 30% superior
” 4 meals were 30% better than both 8 meals and 2 meals”
Do you have the real data handy so we can sort this out?
Yes, you can see the full study here: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/232253977_Daytime_pattern_of_post-exercise_protein_intake_affects_whole-body_protein_turnover_in_resistance-trained_males
Hey Borge, got a couple of questions, somewhat focusing on minutiae:
What would be the estimated body composition of that 80 kg individual? If it’s about 10-12% bodyfat then I know I can safely lower my total bodyweight a bit when calculating protein requirements (since fat doesn’t use as much protein as everything else in our body).
If I consumed some noticeable amount of non-animal protein (and from what I googled some sources, like peanuts, contain a good amount of leucine) could the above recommendations be safely cut back a little bit?
There is no way you can calculate your bf% from bodyweight alone. Most recommendations use bodyweight, as fat tissue is not metabolically inert (quite the contrary), and higher protein intakes are fine if you are overweight(higher satiety and TEF/Thermic Effect of Feeding), and if you are – you should start correcting that.
I didn’t say fat tissue was metabolically inert (“since fat doesn’t use AS MUCH protein as everything else”), neither did I imply I was overweight, nor did I say you could calculate bf% from bodyweight alone. I simply wanted to know if this 80 kg individual you used as an example for your recommendations would be lean (low bf%) or not, that’s what I meant by body composition.
Again, the two questions I asked you were:
What would be the estimated body composition of that 80 kg individual? If it’s about 10-12% bodyfat then I know I can safely lower my total bodyweight a bit when calculating protein requirements (since fat doesn’t use as much protein as everything else in our body).
If I consumed some noticeable amount of non-animal protein (and from what I googled some sources, like peanuts, contain a good amount of leucine) could the above recommendations be safely cut back a little bit?
Have some respect.
I would add that the leucine content of plant protein sources is also around 7-8% (erring towards 8% if you’re talking about soy protein, erring towards 7% if you’re talking about legumes and grains).
So for those wishing to get some of their protein from these sources, due to vegetarianism or simply to save money, Borge’s recommended intakes would essentially be the same, at least as far as leucine content is concerned.
Due to the lower digestibility (~80%) of plant proteins compared to animal proteins (~95%), they may wish to up the intake by 10-20% depending on their degree of vegetarianism.
Joe - CircaStrength Blog
Would you be willing to share any changes in implementation of the BioRhythm diet that you may have made in recent years?
All the best.
Sure, check these out:
Joe - CircaStrength Blog
Thanks for the links! I’ve used those and a few with Menno to create an ‘update’ on my blog as a follow-up to the original post about the Bio-Rhythm diet.
I’d be honored if you would have a look and possibly critique or comment.
All the best to you, sir. I thoroughly enjoy all of the information you put out. Someday I would like to utilize your coaching services to really get the full extent of your knowledge.
I wonder where legumes (I’m vegetarian) falls into this? Is it a slow or quick absorbing protein? Does the high fiber content of protein dense legumes and beans (soybeans, lentils, lima) have any effect?
It is a slower digesting food source, yes.
I really appreciate that you take your time to answer questions on this rather old article and maybe also on my question:
In 2 weeks I will shift from dieting (high carb, suited me very well) to a phase of weight maintenance.
Current weight: 80kg, therefore I aim at 2400kcal a day at the beginning. 160g of protein, 80g of fat and 260g of carbs.
I’ve been doing IF for many years now and I know that at one point you favored this approach but with the biorhythm diet it seems like this has changed. Please correct me if I misunderstood.
Anyway, since IF seems to work for me, I have the following question:
I get up at 5:30am and hit the gym at 6:30am, so quite early. My thoughts concerning the nutrition are:
– no pre work-out meal except some coffee
– around 8am: post workout shake with 30g of whey and 50g of carbs like Malto or Dextro
– roughly at 9:00am: 30g of Casein source like cottage cheese or lowfat quark
– 2pm: 20g of protein and fat dominant with some veggies
– 5pm: 30g protein and carbs
– 8pm: 50g protein including but not only a Casein source + carbs
– 9-10pm: bed time
I know you don’t know me but do you have any general comments on this outline?
there is still some intermittent fasting involved in the biorhythm nutrition, I recommend 3-4 meals between 7-9am and 7-9pm, and some may push it to e.g. 10am-6pm for the 16/8 setup. The main difference being that the whole window is pushed earlier in the day. This is more sustainable as it maintains your biorhythm, and many will notice that they are sleepier in the evening and wake earlier – and also have a lot more energy throughout the day vs. the post-meal crash some experience on the more common IF patterns of late-everything.
Our biorhythm also dictates that we perform better and have a higher anabolic response in the afternoon (sometime between 2-6pm), but having some coffee before hitting the gym in the morning, and also working out consistently at that time may compensate for that.
In your case, I would push more calories for the post-workout period. Depending on how advanced you are, the anabolic window shortens – all the way down to 6-12hrs (see e.g. Mori et al. 2014), so you could probably get in up to 0.4-0.5g/kg protein in the post-workout meal – and also push more calories into the first 1-2 meals. I would highly recommend you get in more regular food, this looks kinda heavy on milk proteins and powders.
Those are my general observations, knowing nothing about you I can’t go into more details than this.
thanks for the reply, highly appreciated.
To your first paragraph:
I think I now got your point. The eating window in terms of hours is basically the same, just when it is open/closed has shifted. Really excited to give that one a try.
To your second paragraph:
I am aware of that fact but this time is a lot more feasible for me for a couple of reasons (empty gym, working, child, etc.). And I somehow got used to it and love getting up early.
To your third paragraph:
Thanks for the advice. I used protein just as a general term for all kinds of protein like meat, fish etc.
You gave me an inch and I don’t want to appear like someone taking a mile but maybe you could also help me with those two questions:
1. I live in Germany and currently we have long days, just like you probably. Would the intake window shorten in winter with shorter days?
2. On days without training, would you increase fats and decrease carbs and still keep the fats in the earlier part of the day? Again I am happy with general answers since we don’t “know” each other.
Thanks again for your answer, another one would be highly appreciated but I understand when you’re short on time etc…
1. I actually think one should strive for a consistent meal timing throughout the year. There are three primary inputs to the circadian clock: Light, nutrition and activity. When one of them – light in this instance – is weaker or offset, I think keeping the other two will compensate for the reduced input of the first one.
2. I would not necessarily increase fats, but a reduction in carbs is warranted.
Perfect, thanks. Have a nice weekend
as you pointed out, some researches show that about 25 gr of prot (40 gr for older people) cause the greater anabolic response. Over that, it should be useless.
But other researches seem to contradict this statment:
one early study examined whether providing 25% of protein at breakfast and lunch and 50% at dinner had any impact on nitrogen balance compared to spreading the protein evenly across the day’s three meals; no difference was found.
More recent work has examined a dietary strategy called “protein pulse” feeding. With that approach, 80% of the day’s protein was given at lunch with only 10% at the other two meals; this was compared to a “spread” pattern where the day’s protein intake was distributed evenly across four meals. In elderly women, the “pulse” pattern led to a greater protein gain compared to the “spread” pattern.
it’s like that “pulsatile” eating increases the anabolic response to the meals and having more than 40 gr of prot per meals after a fasted state can help muscle gains.
The research you are referring to has not been replicated in younger women (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/7/1700.long), so the most likely explanation is simply that the increased protein intake for this older, sedentary population to 1,67g/kg bodyweight negated any benefits or disadvantages of whatever pattern of protein ingestion.
We have a vast amount of data looking into protein dose and ingestion patterns for the trained population, confirming my statements in this article. Check this out for a nice review: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fphys.2015.00245/full
Voeding voor jouw doelstelling deel 2: Eiwit 101 - Bell-Coaching | Fitness & Lifestyle
[…] fitness helden Menno Henselmans en Borge Fagerli adviseren beide een niet-absurd-hoge eiwit inname (1.8 g/kg en een range van 1.5-2g/kg, […]
On Tape – Trainingsnomaden
[…] Ich kann jedem der seine persönliche Ernährungsstrategie noch nicht gefunden hat, nur empfehlen sich damit auseinanderzusetzen. Auch auf seiner Homepage gibt es viele weitere Informationen. http://311997-www.web.tornado-node.net/ Scheinbar ist der gute Mann auch nicht unsichtbar sondern antwortet gern und ausführlich auf Kommentare. Wie z.B in seinem lesenswerten Artikel über Protein. http://311997-www.web.tornado-node.net/the-final-word-on-protein/ […]
Would you recommend protein intake per kg of goal bodyweight if obese? I am 125kg 40% bodyfat M 33.
Your help is much appreciated. Thank you.
When you’re obese, you should go with the lower end of the ranges, so around 1,5-1,6g/kg of bodyweight should do it OR you could use lean body mass and 2.2-2.5g/kg. Having said that, if you use 1.8g/kg bodyweight and get an artificially high protein intake, I don’t necessarily see that as a negative – higher protein intakes increase TEF (thermic effect of feeding) and can be more satiating. The effect of this is somewhat limited, though – or we could eat only protein and be ripped AF.
The Propane Practical Guide to Protein – Propane Fitness
[…] your protein intake for fat loss and muscle gain. You may have seen Borge Fagerli’s excellent article on protein intake; we have to acknowledge his work, since our guidelines agree broadly with his, […]
Surely protein intake should depend on what stage of a diet you’re in.
If there’s an optimal range, e.g. 1.5-2g/Kg BW, then the 2g/Kg could be used early on in the diet, but bought down to the 1.5 region when there are less calories available and you may need more carbs for energy in the gym, or more fat to keep testosterone levels within an acceptable range.
The risk of losing muscle increases as the diet progresses and you get leaner, so you could also argue that protein should increase. Early in the diet, carbs will also have a more protein sparing effect, but as carbs (and calories in general) are dropped, you have both less muscle building and more protein breakdown occuring. I know very few who sacrifice protein to cut calories, but Robert Sykes is doing just that with his keto diet (also keeping fats at 70-80%) and claiming he gets better muscle retention from that. Without any hard data looking at those extreme levels of deficit and bf%, we can only speculate.