FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When you eat a meal that contains at least 20-40g of a high quality protein source, you will stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS). MPS is a process that lasts about 3 hours before returning to baseline levels. It is likely a good idea to eat 20-40g of protein every 3-5 hours in order to stimulate MPS multiples times throughout the day. In fact, a recent meta-analysis by Schoenfeld et al. (2018) concluded that consuming 1.6g/kg of protein in four-meals with 0.4g/kg protein in each is sufficient to maximize the anabolic benefits of multiple protein feeding.
Please note that meal frequency does not affect fat-loss or metabolic rate; your metabolism will be the same whether you eat one meal a day or ten!
Intermittent fasting can be a great way to make a diet easier to adhere to. By restricting the feeding window, it can allow a person to eat more food at once or eat foods that are higher calorie. For example, someone dieting on 1800kcal could have one two meals of 900kcal rather than 4 meals with 450kcal - thus, allowing bigger meals with “tastier” food options.
The downside to intermittent fasting is that it does not pay respect to the benefits of consuming multiple protein feedings. Studies conducted by Murphy et al. (2015) and Moore et al. (2012) have shown that multiple smaller protein feedings lead to greater muscle protein synthesis than having one-big protein feeding. In other words, you cannot make up missing meals by having one big serving of protein at the end of the day.
Thus, if you are going to follow intermittent fasting, it is likely beneficial to have a protein shake or two earlier on in the day - let’s face it, most people fast in order to save up carbs and fats for later rather than protein.
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting does not lead to greater fat-loss, muscle-gain or boost metabolism compared to eating multiple meals throughout the day. If calories are equal, both will lead to the same weight loss in an energy deficit, or weight gain in an energy surplus.
A ketogenic diet is a very low carb diet, with a moderate to high protein intake and a moderate to high fat intake. Ketogenic diets are great for people who can stick to them. The benefit of a ketogenic diet is that is highly satiating and may have muscle-sparing benefits when in an energy-deficit.
If you prefer higher protein/fat foods and don’t care much for carbs, then this diet could be a great tool for you. However, if you cannot live without your morning toast and fruit, then it might not be for you.
The important thing to keep in mind is that a ketogenic diet is not inherently better for fat-loss than an isocaloric diet with higher carbs and lower fat.
Vegan protein sources typically come with a greater amount of carbs and fats compared to animal sources, which can drive up the calories. The amino acid in protein that stimulates muscle protein synthesis is called leucine. You typically need 2-3g of leucine per meal in order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. For example, chicken breast protein has approximately 7.5% leucine and would require 33g protein to obtain 2.5g of leucine - this will contain roughly 160kcal. Lentil protein has 7.3% leucine and will require 41g of protein to obtain 3g leucine - this will require 570kcal.
Thus, in order to meet protein requirements while still keeping calories under control, vegan athletes should try to consume protein sources that are low/moderate in carbs and fats while being high in protein (ie. protein powder, tofu, tempeh, etc.)
A training frequency of at least twice per week seems to be beneficial for hypertrophy (Schonfeld et al. 2016). Splitting your volume into two weekly sessions will allow you to stimulate muscle protein synthesis frequently while also ensuring that you perform each exercise with good technique, rather than piling on volume until your dumbell lateral raises involve a calf raise and a standing hip thrust.
A good place to start is roughly 10-15 sets per muscle per week (Schoenfeld et al. 2017). From here, you can increase volume if you feel that you are recovering adequately or decrease if you’re feeling sore, fatigued and under-recovered after your training sessions.