6 Protein Myths to Get Over to Improve Your Diet and Health

Though fats and carbohydrates have always and continue to battle the nutrition reporters – are they good, are they bad – protein manages to slide by just under the radar and always comes up golden.  This macronutrient (energy-providing chemical substances consumed in large amounts) has always been the basis of many diet plans and a major conversation topic among serious gym-goers.  Despite its shining reputation and long-lasting good status, there are a few lingering myths along with some new confusion about dietary protein.

Read on to put 6 common protein myths to rest for yourself.

Myth 1 - “All protein is the same, it all offers the same nutritional value.”

False.  The quality of a protein in entirely dependent on its ability to provide the 8 essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) which are necessary for the growth, maintenance and repair of bodily tissues.  As such, proteins from animal sources including eggs, dairy, meats, poultry and fish are considered high quality because they contain all 8 essential amino acids in the necessary proportions. 

Vegetables that are high in protein include artichokes, brussel sprouts and mushrooms.

Myth 2 - “How much protein you consume each day determines your ability to gain muscle.”

False.  The total amount and quality of protein you consume at each meal matters, because we build and repair muscle throughout the day, not necessarily all in one sitting.  Healthy young adults should aim for approximately 20 grams of high-quality protein at each meal, as well as after any resistance training.  To maximize gains, 20 grams should be consumed at regular 3 to 4 hour intervals throughout the day.

Older adults need about 30 grams of protein per meal, and up to 40 grams after any resistance training in order to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle development).

Myth 3 - “Protein needs are the same throughout your life.”

False.  As we age, a process called sarcopenia begins to rob us of our muscle mass – starting around the age of 40.  However, resistance exercise and a good diet (including slightly higher protein consumption than the generalized “recommended daily amount”) can help minimize the loss of both muscle mass and strength.

As we age, we need higher levels of protein to continue to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. 

Myth 4 - “Endurance athletes don’t need more protein than the average person.”

False.  Endurance athletes absolutely require more protein than their more sendentary friends.  Protein can greatly aid in the recovery from endurance exercise and help decrease soreness and inflammation resulting from the breakdown of muscle tissue.

In addition, adding protein to a post-exercise carbohydrate rich meal may help improve your body’s ability to rebuild your muscles’ glycogen levels (the storage form of carbohydrate in your body).

Myth 5 - “Cutting back on protein is a good way to lose weight.”

False.  Consuming insufficient protein can actually make it harder to lose weight since the nutrient keeps you full and your metabolism humming along.  If you do lose weight by cutting the protein, chances are you are losing muscle mass, not fat.  What’s more, not eating enough protein can actually lead to other problems, including fatigue, weakness, leg swelling, and a suppressed immune system – which can then lead to more frequent illnesses. 

Losing weight is hard enough without any added health problems, too.

Myth 6 - “Eating too much protein causes kidney disease or calcium loss.”

False.  Consuming excess protein will only harm your kidneys if you have underlying kidney or liver disease, since one of the functions of healthy kidneys is to expel the extra nitrogen that comes with eating lots of protein. 

While protein consumption does increase calcium loss, it also aids in the absorption of calcium in the body, therefore, ZERO net loss in calcium comes with protein intake.  In addition, protein makes up about one half of bone volume and one third of bone mass, so is actually good for bones!

Diversify your intake with plant and animal proteins to optimize bone health, along with calcium containing foods to avoid a calcium deficiency.

Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, any workout plan, and general good health.  And high-quality protein is the best thing you can do for yourself – so order yours today from ButcherBox.ca!