If you’re hoping to build muscle with your workout, you already know the importance of consuming enough protein. How much protein you consume can make the difference between seeing modest results and getting the goals you set for yourself. Yet, how much protein we consume doesn’t seem to be the whole story when it comes to building muscle, according to new research.

You might measure how much protein you’re consuming, but according to researchers at the University of Birmingham, you should also start monitoring when you consume that protein. This study examined the protein consumption for the diets of three different age groups and found that most people unevenly eat protein throughout their day. Yet, part of what makes protein so integral to our bodies is the way it’s used regularly to facilitate many functions.

By having participants in the study keep a food journal, researchers could see the wide variation in people’s eating habits across ages. For the older participant group of an average of 77 years old, results showed the protein consumed was lower quality, like bread, and was often consumed at lunchtime.

To increase muscle mass, regular consumption of high-quality protein sources is required, particularly for older individuals. As a person ages, their body is less effective at transforming nutrition into muscle mass. The researchers ultimately concluded that to get the same muscle mass increase results as younger people. Older people must consume more protein than is needed for a younger person.

Overall, if you’re seeking to make significant improvements in your muscle mass, this study reinforces the importance of not just eating protein, but good quality protein. Since our bodies need protein to perform many vital functions throughout the day and building muscle mass, it’s crucial to consume protein at steady intervals throughout the day to see the results you’re aiming for.

Making sure your protein consumption is balanced doesn’t have to be complicated. One way to ensure you’re getting protein regularly throughout the day is to include a serving of a high-quality protein with every meal. By consciously adding protein to each of your meals, you’ll be much more likely to get the protein you need when you need it.