Mini Mikkipedia - questions on protein and fibre

Hey everyone, it's Miki here. You're listening to Mini Mikkipedia. And today I just want to address a few questions that have come through my DMs or via email or through clients that are related to protein intake and fiber intake as well. As you know, I believe these are the cornerstones of a super healthful diet, a particularly...

helpful diet when it comes to improving body composition, which is where I spend a lot of my time helping people. And of course protein is essential for the recovery for an athlete as well. So understanding more about the digestion of protein and the amounts that you should strive for in each meal, regardless of your goal, I think is super important.

always around the upper limit of protein in a meal. And if you look on social media, there are questions as to whether or not 30 grams of protein is the upper limit that you can ingest in a meal, or digest in a meal, I'm sorry. And someone else actually asked whether there was an upper limit of 50 grams of protein in a meal that you can digest. Now before I start, I will say that I had...

Professor Don Layman on the podcast a few weeks ago now, and we discussed a study that looked at the ingestion of 100 grams of protein, particularly from a slow digesting protein, casein. And that study found that there was no upper limit to muscle protein synthesis, which is one of the main biomarkers that is looked at when it comes to protein intake. And...

That study, because of its slow digestion, found that even having 100 grams of that casein protein did not sort of tap out on muscle protein synthesis. But because of the particular type of protein, it doesn't really mimic real life and what you might actually ingest in a meal. So as I said, when we think about upper limits for protein, we're often considering only that

for muscle health and it's one of the easiest things that we can measure. However, we will digest and absorb all of the protein that you actually take on. Just because we don't necessarily or aren't able to measure hormone production or water balance or regulation of appetite necessarily as easy as muscle protein synthesis or it isn't all measured at the same time, then you can't just think about that MPS response

in relation to how much protein that we can digest and absorb. So the first thing I would say is you will digest and absorb all of the protein that you intake. The thing with muscle protein synthesis is a biomarker for muscle health. It turns on machinery, which is the mammalian target of rapamycin. It's an anabolic system in the body that helps build and maintain lean muscle mass.

point of about three grams of leucine in a meal, which is about that 50 grams of protein, you might not stimulate more muscle protein synthesis, but it doesn't mean that there isn't value for the rest of the roles that protein plays in the body. And I have already just mentioned a few of them, enzymes, hormones, regulation of appetite, water balance, a whole host of them, that we don't measure when we think about upper limits or targets of protein.

What we do know is that you need at least two meals a day that hits that muscle protein synthesis response and sort of maximizes or taps that out. And that then requires that you have two meals that has that three grams of leucine. And leucine is the amino acid that initiates that MPS response. It isn't the only one responsible in that cascade, but it is the one that

initiates it. So even if you got say 50 grams of protein in twice a day, and I often talk to people about getting it in at breakfast and at dinner for example, then the rest of the protein that you ingest to make up your the rest of your protein, sort of total protein amount for the day, it doesn't really matter when you get that or the amounts that you get that in.

of getting in the protein required for muscle protein synthesis. Now, what is important is understanding why I'm saying sort of 50 grams of protein. It may well be 40 grams of protein, you know, if you're having really easily digestible proteins, because the important thing is, is that we're not actually eating amino acids. We're eating whole meals, and whole meals do also bring with it other features that slow down that gastric emptying,

protein leaving the stomach and slows down digestion and slows down the release of the amino acids into the bloodstream. And that's the thing that's required to stimulate that machinery and turn that machinery on. So we need a sort of threshold of leucine in the bloodstream, which if you were to just take leucine as an amino acid, you would probably reach it. It's not a helpful supplemental.

addition to your diet and I'll explain why in a minute, but let's just say for argument's sake you did that, then that would be enough for you. But because we have fibre in a meal, we might have acids that slow down that gastric emptying, we have different types of proteins that have different amounts of leucine, so you need more of that protein to get that MPS response.

You have fat which also slows down digestion. So when you eat whole meals, you do need to consider the amount of protein in that meal. And that's why getting 50 grams of protein is actually fairly reasonable. An example of 50 grams of protein, for lunch today I had a fried egg and I had a 120 gram chicken breast and I shared half a sausage with the dog Ted. And...

I also actually had like a tablespoon of cottage cheese in my meal. And when I put that in Easy Diet Diary, it came out at 51 grams of protein. That's actually not a ton of food on my plate in terms of the amount of protein. Though, as I was speaking to my nutrition pod Mondays to Mastery earlier today, if you're not used to eating that amount of protein, then it can seem like a big ask.

who are like me and are good protein eaters, know that actually, it's pretty easy to consume that amount. If you struggle to meet your protein goals or you struggle to eat enough or eat often enough to get the protein that you need, then try and hit that 50 grams in a meal, I would say. And then you might want to have a protein shake in addition to that, which might give you another 20 or 30 grams of protein.

That's super easy and it doesn't necessarily rely on appetite. I was mentioning leucine content and it is really important, but you'd want more than just leucine. So leucine is the amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis, but it works in combination with the other branched chain amino acids, which are valine and isoleucine. And there hasn't been a lot of data or information as to the...

exact roles of isoleucine or valine in this MPS pathway, I guess. But what we do know is that if you do just supplement with leucine, you actually end up depleting some of those other amino acids because your body does require them. So anything that you're not putting in, your body is sort of pulling out of its amino acid pool to use for that muscle protein synthesis pathway.

If you were to supplement with an essential amino acid powder, and I'll talk about a use case for that in a minute, then that is preferable to just supplementing with leucine. As I understand it, leucine is pretty bitter and you wouldn't want to do it anyway. So if you really struggled to get that three grams of leucine in a meal, or if you, so you cannot physically eat that much, or if you are a vegan and the

digestibility of your protein is reduced because you're having whole food, plant-based proteins, which have a lot more fibers and a lot more things which impact negatively on digestion. Then adding in an essential amino acid powder to the meal itself may be a way to bolster and hit that three grams of leucine. So I often recommend this to my older clients who may not have the appetite for protein.

or to my vegan clients who would not be able to accrue it through their diet alone. So that's two use cases for an essential amino acid powder. And there isn't much sense or need to supplement with branched chain amino acids or essential amino acids across a day and just having them willy nilly in your drink bottle. And in fact you might not want to do that because

That mTOR, that mammalian target of rapamycin, the machinery responsible for muscle protein synthesis, you want to turn that on, then you want to switch that off. You really want a robust response. You do not want to be sort of stimulating it at multiple times per day. And one of the reasons for this is related to the controversy around protein intake and its role in growth.

There are people in the scientific community who are in the longevity space who believe that higher protein diets over-stimulate those mTOR pathways and increase cancer and tumor growth. What we do know and what Don Layman has discussed on this podcast and what Stu Phillips has also discussed on this podcast is that the chronic stimulation of mTOR does not...

from a protein load itself. It is more likely to come from a dysregulated insulin response or high insulin because that can dysregulate that mTOR response. So it's more likely to be sort of pathologic when it comes alongside insulin resistance and poor metabolic health. There's no evidence to suggest that a one-time protein hit in a meal that robustly switches on then turns off mTOR is at all harmful.

If that was the case, there would be a very high incidence of cancer in populations who regularly strength train and have higher protein diets. And that is just not what the literature shows. And it's not really where our common sense understands that either. So in summary then, there is no upper limit for the...

There is no sort of 30 gram or 50 gram maximum of protein in a meal that you can digest. The one last thing I will say to sort of round this out is a related question in that can you overeat protein and will that make you gain weight? Now I had Jose Antonio on just a couple of weeks ago and we spoke of his high protein or protein overfeeding studies which showed that you were far less likely to gain weight when you overfeed an individual protein.

because we store protein in our muscles essentially, but there is no sort of storage reservoir the way that for protein, the way that there is for fat. However, you can overeat anything. And on a recent podcast that I listened to with Luke Van Loon, he discussed that really the pathway of gluconeogenesis, where protein that you do not require is converted into glucose.

that could downstream be turned into fat via another pathway called de novo lipogenesis, so the creation of fat. However, this is a very inefficient pathway, so it's not likely to happen. So if you are overfeeding on any nutrient, protein is way more favorable. When you overfeed or overeat calories, when you overeat carbohydrate, your body will do a lot of work to sort of burn that

that carbohydrate off. So you actually in an acute setting, like of course over time if you overheat anything over a period of time you will gain body fat, but that sort of acute overfeeding of carbohydrate tends to ramp up your metabolic rate actually and your body works hard to sort of oxidise and burn that off. With protein, again, digestion takes a large chunk of those calories and it's a very inefficient

process to digest protein so you're far less likely to over gain or gain body fat in that setting. But hey, if you over eat fat in excess of the calories you need to sort of exist, then you very easily store those calories. And in fact, for every 100 calories of fat that you consume, your body can easily store sort of 99 of them and just one calorie is used in the digestion.

50 grams of protein in a meal, no issue, and absolutely no issue with regards to your body using it. It is actually preferable to really sort of base your meals around protein rather than fat or carbohydrate. But I do think that you know that. And the last thing that I just wanted to touch on is another question I get, and it's pretty short, so I thought I'd just sort of...

tack it onto the back of this because it's related to the dietary approach which I advocate. And that's how to get additional fibre in. I did nutrition audits with my nutrition coaching pod last week and I did have several of them despite the fact that they eat vegetables at lunch and dinner and salad at lunch and dinner. They were still below the target of fibre that we know tends to be associated with good health. Now look.

There is, again, because it's nutrition, controversy around fiber as well, and there are certainly people who benefit from a lot less fiber than more fiber for sure. It is easy to eat vegetables and not get a lot of fiber in, I would say. And my first response is don't turn to the grains for your fiber because, one, yes they contain some additional vitamins, but you're not going to lose out if you just omit grains from your diet and get those nutrients from other food sources. And a lot of

the time, or obviously as grains, they will rack up your carbohydrate intake, which might not be beneficial from an energetic standpoint, from a brain standpoint, from a body fat standpoint, or a hunger standpoint. So I'm just going to quickly review some of the top fibre choices for those of you who want to increase your fibre, yet not necessarily go to the breads and the crackers and things like that. So some of my favourite foods.

One is actually green peas. Now, yes, they are a carbohydrate source, but you do have to have quite a few of them to really sort of make a huge difference to your carbohydrate intake. But if you were to choose a carbohydrate source, green peas would be a great one. You get about 6.5 grams of fiber per cup. Broccoli, you get about 2.1 grams of fiber per cup. My favorite, Brussels sprouts, 3.7 grams of fiber per cup. Carrots, you get about 3.6 grams of fiber per cup.

So even if you were to have carrots, peas, and Brussels sprouts in a meal, you've got 12 grams of fiber right there. And what I didn't say actually was that the minimum or the target amount of fiber that you should be aiming for is around 28 grams for a woman and 32 grams for a male. Albeit, if you have more and you feel good on it, then there's no reason for you to try to reduce that down. But you can see that the targets aren't necessarily huge. We're sort of thinking about

12, even if you were to get 12 grams in lunch, 12 grams in dinner, and then get another, I don't know, six or eight grams in breakfast, you'd be quite near where you'd need to be. But if you tolerate fiber, I mean, hey, more is more, right? Avocado does contain quite a bit of fiber, but it also of course is a higher fat option. So I mean, but like half an avocado has around about two to 2.5 grams of fiber.

So to my mind, that's like a really great addition to your meal as well. Raspberries are amazing. They've got about eight grams of fiber per cup, super low calorie. Yes, they are a fruit, but I often just think about them just blanket as a fiber source. I don't really consider them as necessarily a carbohydrate or a fruit choice really, because they are so low in calories and so high in fiber. And they've got other great antioxidants as well. And a lot of the berries will fall into this camp. Kiwi fruit's well-known for fiber.

but other phytochemicals that help with that gastrointestinal pathway. 3.4 grams of fibre per cup of kiwifruit. And then if you do tolerate legumes, they're also an amazing source of fibre. And lentils have about 12.6 grams per cup. Yes, they are a carbohydrate source, they contribute to a protein load, but ultimately they're an excellent carb source because of their fibre content.

Black beans is a real favourite of mine as well, 12.4 grams of fibre per cup. So even half a cup of these legumes, you would be, you know, it would only contribute about 12 to 14 grams of carbohydrate, but you'd get about half of that would be fibre, which would be amazing. Chia seeds is also a great source of fibre with 7.7 grams per ounce or per 28 grams of chia seeds. So if you use even a couple of tablespoons,

you'll be getting an extra two or three grams of fiber there. So there are plenty of ways to be able to up your fiber intake without necessarily increasing your intake of breads and cereals and other things which are often suggested as being good sources of fiber to include in your diet. So hopefully that was helpful for you on both of those fronts. Do not forget I have my Anatomy of Fat Loss mini course.

that talks about how to do these things strategically in order to improve body composition, that is taking place this Sunday, 5th of May, through to Wednesday, 8th of May, in the lead into my very successful Mondays Matter programme. My course, you can learn so much, it is free to join. You attend live, ideally, because it's an investment of your time into yourself, and you deserve that. Or you can just catch the recording after the fact. We'll be...

putting out a Facebook group this week as well, so we can connect there for some Facebook lives around hormones, around sports nutrition and body composition, around the content of the course, and just so you get a little bit of my in-person coaching so you know what it's like to sort of coach with me. So that is happening on Sunday, and we will put links in the show notes to that. Of course, please don't hesitate to reach out via DM on X, Instagram, or

threads@mikkiwilliden, Facebook @mikkiwillidenNutrition, or head straight to my website you can sign up there in the little pop-up box that will come in, All right team, you have the best week. See you later.