30 grams of protein- myth

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Founder and Head Coach
The 30 grams of protein-myth is a misinterpretation of science. Research on protein is inconclusive, except for three tips.

Facts and fiction

The information on what to eat for muscle build and optimal recovery is overwhelming. Not helpful is that scientific evidence is sometimes inconclusive. For one, due to the diversity in research methods used, which complicates comparing research results. Also, confounding factors can often not be ruled out in research, such as the effect of other lifestyle factors or the influence of genetics of research subjects.

Furthermore, evidence based facts can be difficult to distinguish from fiction and myths. Influencers on social media are sometimes considered more reliable than scientists. Evidence based information is selectively used to sell products, or wrongly applied because the underlying evidence is overlooked or misunderstood. One example:

30- grams of protein- myth

According to this myth, the intake of protein in one meal should be limited to 30 grams because the body cannot absorp a larger amount in a time frame of three hours. This statement is based on a misinterpretation of research results.

Research (Aragonet et al, 2013) has shown that in case of fasted training (working out on an empty stomach) the body takes three to four hours to process 30 grams of protein. Yet, in most real life cases, people do not work-out on a completely empty stomach and do not eat a meal only made of 100% protein.

Furthermore, how the body processes protein depends on several factors such as body composition and the type of training. The body does not stop processing nutrients after an intake of 30 grams. For example: of a person eats more than needed, whether it’s protein, carbohydrates or fats, the body will store this as fat.

Three tips

Despite inconclusive results, there is something to learn from these studies:

1.      For optimal muscle growth you need 1,5 to 2 grams of high quality protein per kilogram body weight, ideally divided over several meals during the day.

2.     Eat 15 grams of protein before your workout and 25 grams within 30 minutes after. Eating more protein will not lead to more results.

3.     Combine eating protein with complex carbs and some healthy fats, for better uptake of the protein and for vitamins and minerals.

Create your own health!©


Aragon, A.A., Schoenfeld, B.J. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10, 5 (2013).

Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Dec 3;10(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-53. PMID: 24299050; PMCID: PMC3879660.