The biggest protein myths

Serious weight trainers are more aware than ever of the need to optimise protein intake for maximising their physique gains. However, protein confusion still persists – so here’s a quick-fire guide to the biggest protein myths…

1. “WEIGHT TRAINERS ONLY NEED THE RDA FOR PROTEIN”

This is probably the biggest protein myth out there, since extensive scientific research has proven that weight trainers require way more than the recommended intake of 55g protein per day for a guy, and 45g for women! It’s true that experts are still trying to pinpoint the exact amount of protein needed for maximum muscle recovery and growth, but with recommendations frequently in the range of 1.8g-2.5g protein per kg of body mass daily, most physique athletes with awesome physiques fall within this range. This means an intake of 160-180g is more suitable for a typical guy who hits the weights 3-4 times a week!

2. “PROTEIN IS BAD FOR THE KIDNEYS AND BONES”

Numerous studies have proven that a high protein intake is safe for people who are healthy and training hard. Researchers analysed weight trainers eating 2.8g protein per kg body mass, against a lower protein diet. At the end of the study, the scientists concluded that there was no difference in kidney function and health [1]. Similarly, when it comes to bone health, protein again comes out as a winner as research shows that a high protein diet increases calcium turn-over in bones, meaning that while calcium ‘loss’ from bones may increase, remineralisation also increases, supporting bone health [2].

3. “ALL PROTEIN HAS THE SAME IMPACT”

Proteins have different amino acid bonds, eliciting different rates of absorption. As a result, proteins can affect key muscle building processes such protein synthesis (build-up) and catabolism (breakdown). The two most famous milk proteins found in supplements; whey and casein, are a classic example of functional proteins with distinctly different profiles.

    • Whey protein digests rapidly and elicits a spike in amino acids and protein synthesis.
    • Casein digests very slowly, combating tissue breakdown for more than 7-8 hours.

These characteristics may be particularly beneficial for physique trainers – for example spiking protein synthesis with whey shakes such as ULTRA WHEY™ PROTEIN with breakfast, between meals and before/after training , and consuming a protein blend such as GRS 9-HOUR® PROTEIN before bed to combat muscle breakdown overnight. Protein blends can also be used at anytime to support protein synthesis and combat breakdown.

4. “YOU ONLY NEED LOTS OF PROTEIN WHEN BULKING-UP”

This is an awesome myth to leave until last – because it’s a big one! Optimal protein intake is vital, regardless of whether you’re trying to add maximum mass and strength, build ultra-lean muscle tissue, or diet down to get 6-pack ripped. Why? Because protein supports the maintenance and growth of muscle tissue – that means to grow you need protein, and to maintain mass while stripping away fat with training and diet – you also need protein! In fact, many trainers may need to increase their protein levels when on a low calorie diet, to specifically reduce the risk of muscle catabolism. Keep your diet within the 1.8-2.5g/kg zone and find what works best with your genetics.

References:

[1] Poortmans JR, Dellalieux O. Do regular high-protein diets have potential health risks on kidney function in athletes? Int J Sports Nutr 2000;10:28-38.

[2] Cooper C, Atkinson EJ, Hensrud DD et al. Dietary protein intake and bone mass in women. Calcif Tissue Int 1996;58:320-325.

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