What is Protein Pacing?

July 1, 2019,

Shilpa Dattani

When it comes to making a change to your diet, one of the most common questions is usually about what to eat and when to eat it. Protein pacing is an easy solution to this, and the best part is that it’s easy to include and isn’t restrictive.

Protein pacing is the scientifically proven combination of eating healthy, lean, protein foods at the right time of day to maximise health and performance.

In a nutshell, protein pacing includes consuming 20-40 grams of protein at regular intervals throughout the day – not just at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whilst this might sound simple, we typically tend to eat carbohydrate-rich meals for breakfast and lunch, and then include a large portion of protein-rich foods in the evening meal, so our protein intake throughout the day isn’t very equal. But the good news is that with just a few small changes to what we eat and when we eat it, it’s easy to make protein pacing part of your routine and reap the benefits.

What are the benefits of protein pacing?

Consuming protein throughout the day in an amount that your body can use efficiently helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, stimulate your metabolism, and most importantly, keep you satisfied to help manage your appetite (1-5).

Research also suggests that protein pacing could enhance energy expenditure and improve body composition with less calorie restriction, as protein-rich meals are known to have a greater thermic effect than carbohydrate-rich meals, meaning more energy is required to digest, absorb and metabolise the protein-rich meals (6, 7).

So, whatever your goal we can all benefit from protein pacing – whether that’s to keep us feeling full throughout the day, or to help us build muscle and recover from our workouts.

How can I include protein pacing in my program?

It’s recommended to eat four to six meals or snacks per day, and whilst the meals don’t have to be equal in volume, they should each provide between 20-40 grams of protein. Isagenix products make it easy by taking the guess work out of protein pacing and providing convenient solutions for our busy lives. Options like IsaLean Shake, IsaLean Bar and IsaPro are designed to provide the right amount of high-quality protein to support your goals, and they’re all so easy to prepare and consume even when you’re on the go. There are also a whole range of other healthy foods that you can include, such as roasted chickpeas, boiled eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds, or Greek yogurt with nut butter.

Here are the basics on how to make protein pacing work for you:

  • Consume >1.4 grams of protein per kilogram daily.
  • Spread protein over four to six meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Consume about 20-30 grams of protein, or 25-35 percent of your total protein intake, per each meal.
  1. Ives SJ, Norton C, Miller V, Minicucci O, Robinson J, O’Brien G, Escudero D, Paul M, Sheridan C, Curran K, Rose K, Robinson N, He F & Arciero PJ. Multi-modal exercise training and protein-pacing enhances physical performance adaptations independent of growth hormone and BDNF but may be dependent on IGF-1 in exercise-trained men. Growth Horm IGF Res. 2016 Oct 24. doi: 1016/j.ghir.2016.10.002
  2. Arciero PJ, Edmonds R, He F, Ward E, Gumpricht E, Mohr A, Ormsbee MJ & Astrup A. Protein-Pacing Caloric-Restriction Enhances Body Composition Similarly in Obese Men and Women during Weight Loss and Sustains Efficacy during Long-Term Weight Maintenance. Nutrients 2016, 8(8), 476.
  3. Krieger JW, Sitren HS, Daniels MJ & Langkamp-Henken B. Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-regression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb; 83(2):260-74.
  4. Crovetti R, Porrini M, Santangelo A & Testolin G. The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998 Jul; 52(7):482-8.
  5. Phillips SM. A brief review of critical processes in exercise-induced muscular hypertrophy. Sports Med. 2014 May; 44 Suppl 1:S71-7.
  6. Arciero PJ, Ives SJ, Norton C, Escudero D, Minicucci O, O’Brien G, Paul M, Ormsbee MJ, Miller V, Sheridan C, He F. Protein-pacing and multi-component exercise training improved physical performance outcomes in exercise-trained women: PRISE 3 study. Nutrients 2016, 8(6), 332; doi:3390/nu8060332
  7. Skidmore P. Macronutrient intake and their role in obesity Nutr Bull 2007;32(suppl 1):4-13.
Arciero PJ, Gentile CL, Martin-Pressman R, Ormsbee MJ, Everett M, Zwicky L & Steele CA. Increased dietary protein and combined high intensity aerobic and resistance exercise improves body fat distribution and cardiovascular risk factors. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug; 16(4):373-92.

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