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Protein Distribution and Muscle-Related Outcomes: Does the Evidence Support the Concept?

Authors
  • Hudson, Joshua L.1, 2, 3
  • Bergia, Robert E. III1
  • Campbell, Wayne W.1
  • 1 (W.W.C.)
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA
  • 3 Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, 15 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA
Type
Published Article
Journal
Nutrients
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
May 16, 2020
Volume
12
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/nu12051441
PMID: 32429355
PMCID: PMC7285146
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Review
License
Green

Abstract

There is a shift in thinking about dietary protein requirements from daily requirements to individual meal requirements. Per meal, stimulation of muscle protein synthesis has a saturable dose relationship with the quantity of dietary protein consumed. Protein intake above the saturable dose does not further contribute to the synthetic response; the “excess” amino acids are predominantly oxidized. Given that daily dietary protein intake is finite, finding protein distribution patterns that both reduce amino acid oxidation and maximize their contribution towards protein synthesis (in theory improving net balance) could be “optimal” and is of practical scientific interest to promote beneficial changes in skeletal muscle-related outcomes. This article reviews both observational and randomized controlled trial research on the protein distribution concept. The current evidence on the efficacy of consuming an “optimal” protein distribution to favorably influence skeletal muscle-related changes is limited and inconsistent. The effect of protein distribution cannot be sufficiently disentangled from the effect of protein quantity. Consuming a more balanced protein distribution may be a practical way for adults with marginal or inadequate protein intakes (<0.80 g·kg−1·d−1) to achieve a moderately higher total protein intake. However, for adults already consuming 0.8–1.3 g·kg−1·d−1, the preponderance of evidence supports that consuming at least one meal that contains sufficient protein quantity to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis, independent of daily distribution, is helpful to promote skeletal muscle health.

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