Thoughts on weekly protein average vs daily protein?

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For weight loss, if I have a calorie goal of 2000 calories per day and I hit 1800 one day and 2200 the next, as long as it averages out to be 2000, I'll lose weight.

Does that go for protein as well? If I have a goal of 150g of protein daily and hit 200 one day but only 100 the next, will I still put on muscle as long as it averages out to equal 150?
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  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,391 Member
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    Personal opinion based on anecdotal experience, I've been satisfied with my muscle-building progress while having daily fluctuations in protein. However, as pointed out above, my fluctuations remain within a much narrower range than your example of target +/- 33% (150 +/- 50). In my case, I try to stay within target +/- 10%, drinking an extra protein shake if needed to catch up on the low side, but not placing any limits on the high side (though it's rare I go above target +20%).
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,391 Member
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    My off-the-shelf ready-made protein shake is 32g protein for 170 calories, so even if I go over, it's not by a ton, and since it's mostly protein calories I'm ok with the surplus when trying to add muscle. If your shake is a 500-calorie type, then that's a different story. (Yes, there are some out there, and others even higher calories.)

    I'm BW 191 and I do have different protein targets on days I lift (150+) vs days I don't (120+). Usually, I eat exactly the same way every day of the week, the only difference being I add the protein shake on lifting days. These are minimums; if I go over (which is usually the case) no sweat, but I want to get at least this much.

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  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 6,186 Member
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    It's not quite the same for protein, you do need to keep a somewhat constant supply coming in.

    it's definitely not necessary to hit your goal precisely each day, but those are some pretty large divergences in your example - I would avoid such extremes personally (especially the low intake day, the high intake day is not an issue).

    I'm not saying you won't gain muscle if you do what you explain in your example. But it might not be optimal. Up to you how 'optimal' you want your intake to be - sometimes perfect is the enemy of good 🙂
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,531 Member
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    I'm not convinced about your averages theory for calories, and I'm definitely not convinced about it for protein. Giving the body protein is useful for muscle protein synthesis. Back to calories, say your maintenance is 2400, and six days of the week you have 2500 and one day you have 1400, would you lose weight? That's a weekly calorie deficit, but it's also six days above maintenance. I think that's what the body will treat as its set point. The body is good at smoothing out extremes.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,459 Member
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    If I had an athletic performance, strength, or muscle-mass goal particularly (oh wait: I do!), I'd personally set my protein goal on the high-ish side (way above the sad USDA daily allowance numbers, for sure). I'd treat it as a minimum, be happy to exceed it routinely, but not stress if it was maybe 10% or so under once in a while.

    If I were old (I am), I'd also be trying to spread it through the day, rather than getting most/all of it in one meal or in a short timespan.

    IRL, I set for a minimum of 1g per pound of estimated lean body mass (which is high-ish but not high high), nearly always exceed it (usually by about 20%), vary my sources, and spread it through the day. That's on maintenance calories, as a vegetarian. On rare occasions, maybe couple days a month (?), I eat indulgently for some reason, and a subset of those days I probably lowball protein - not often. YMMV.
  • need2belean
    need2belean Posts: 353 Member
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    Thank you all. I was varying it by quite a bit in that example. IRL, I am trying to build. I do have a coach who is slowly building me up on my calories. I'm at 2300 now. Based on my TDEE (6' and 165lbs), this is roughly accurate for my maintenance calories which is probably why my weight hasn't gone up much. But I'm working on a 3 month build and I'm on week 6 and haven't seen much change (except maybe in shoulders). I was worried that maybe it was because if my goal is 150g of protein and on weekends I tend to be on the lower end (around 120g average), that it may be affecting the muscle building (since it's a 20% drop). I'll do better about making sure weekends I get more protein in to offset such a high percentage and try to get it to at least only a 10% difference.
  • need2belean
    need2belean Posts: 353 Member
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    nossmf wrote: »
    Personal opinion based on anecdotal experience, I've been satisfied with my muscle-building progress while having daily fluctuations in protein. However, as pointed out above, my fluctuations remain within a much narrower range than your example of target +/- 33% (150 +/- 50). In my case, I try to stay within target +/- 10%, drinking an extra protein shake if needed to catch up on the low side, but not placing any limits on the high side (though it's rare I go above target +20%).

    Even if that extra protein shake puts you above those daily calories? Weekends I tend to be more lax on macros. I eat the amount of calories but I do tend to veer towards more carbs vs protein sources.
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,531 Member
    edited December 2023
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    Thank you all. I was varying it by quite a bit in that example. IRL, I am trying to build. I do have a coach who is slowly building me up on my calories. I'm at 2300 now. Based on my TDEE (6' and 165lbs), this is roughly accurate for my maintenance calories which is probably why my weight hasn't gone up much. But I'm working on a 3 month build and I'm on week 6 and haven't seen much change (except maybe in shoulders). I was worried that maybe it was because if my goal is 150g of protein and on weekends I tend to be on the lower end (around 120g average), that it may be affecting the muscle building (since it's a 20% drop). I'll do better about making sure weekends I get more protein in to offset such a high percentage and try to get it to at least only a 10% difference.
    Lowering your protein like that on weekends maybe isn't affecting your muscle growth much. It won't be the main reason if you think you aren't progressing enough. But it's also the easiest to fix by far. One protein powder scoop with a bit of milk in the morning or night, done. Easy. If you're going to put in the work, put in the fuel. Your program, volume and progression will have a much bigger affect than 120g on a weekend though.

    Note this applies to at least the day after training. That's when you're recovering and growing. Two or three days after training, maybe hitting that average protein goal isn't such a big deal.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,615 Member
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    .

    Note this applies to at least the day after training. That's when you're recovering and growing. Two or three days after training, maybe hitting that average protein goal isn't such a big deal.

    Interesting. Sunday is my rest day but is also typically my lowest protein day of the week. You’re saying there’s a lag time with efficient protein use?

  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,531 Member
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    Interesting. Sunday is my rest day but is also typically my lowest protein day of the week. You’re saying there’s a lag time with efficient protein use?
    MPS is highest 24 hours after working out, and back to baseline after 36 hours.

    It's the time after the workout that you're building muscle, not the time during the workout.
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,391 Member
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    More a case of your muscles are broken down during exercise, and over the next 24-36 hours they are at their most active repairing the damage and reinforcing against future issue. Let's say you exercise during the morning on Saturday. If you only increase protein the rest of Saturday you get a good start (helping the first 12-18 hours), but potentially miss out on shoring up a large part of the window of repair which bleeds into Sunday afternoon.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,615 Member
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    Now that’s really interesting, gentlemen. I had never even thought about efficient application of protein.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,459 Member
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    Now that’s really interesting, gentlemen. I had never even thought about efficient application of protein.

    Spreading it through the day gets more important with age (60+, more or less), too.

    https://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(13)00326-5/fulltext

    Apologies, OP, I don't think you're in that demographic, but Spring is.
  • _nikkiwolf_
    _nikkiwolf_ Posts: 1,380 Member
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    There are also some newer studies that the muscle-building / -repairing benefits of protein depend on the amount of protein you get in a meal, and that you only profit from 20-25g protein per meal, anything beyond that doesn't add that much value according to those studies.
    I would rather try to get 20g of protein four times per day, then being super low on protein intake during most meals and trying to make for up for it by drinking 100g's worth of protein shakes before bed when you notice you are falling short of your daily goal.
  • _John_
    _John_ Posts: 8,643 Member
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    I would guess if you're strength training, and otherwise eating an appropriate amount of calories 100 vs. 150g protein fits somewhere in the "good to ideal" spectrum for you, and you won't notice much of a difference at all.

    I would think it's not something to worry about at all, unless that 50g of protein helped you eat a more appropriate amount of calories on those days.
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,391 Member
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    There are also some newer studies that the muscle-building / -repairing benefits of protein depend on the amount of protein you get in a meal, and that you only profit from 20-25g protein per meal, anything beyond that doesn't add that much value according to those studies.

    In complete conflict with other studies saying this magic 20g is NOT true. There's even a legendary story (maybe true, maybe not) that number was suggested by one professional bodybuilder to another in an effort to throw off the other's eating habits, thereby gaining a slim advantage on stage.