There are many myths and beliefs that create some controversy surrounding supplements. Many of them are essential for the body’s development and recovery when a person is trying to build a “new body”, but they are far from being the magic powder that will give you super powers. Protein shakes, for example, are no more than supplements made by the same nutrients that can be found in food that you can buy at supermarkets. The difference lies in the percentage of protein, which is higher, and in the amount of fat, which is lower than in food. Protein supplements come from the exact selection of nutrients that our body needs to achieve specific goals, whether that is definition, volume or even weight loss.
It is true that they don’t replace a balanced food plan? Yes, it is true, but they can be part of a diet, working as a complement to it. It is true that they assume an important role in an athlete’s life? Yes, no doubt! To be in excellent shape, one needs to be careful, not only when in the action plan working out, but also when you make your food choices.
Some of the more common myths about protein:
1. Your body can only assimilate 30g of protein in each meal.
Our body is capable of assimilating much more than 30g of protein in each meal, for everything depends on the type of protein, your weight, the intensity with which you work out and the amount that you will ingest. The more you need, the more your organism is capable of digesting, absorb and assimilate. A person who weighs 100kg will need to take more protein than one that weighs 80kg and will be able to digest a bigger amount per meal. If you want to maximize muscular growth, you must minimize the loss of lean mass and maximize protein synthesis. Some researches show that meals that have more than 30g of protein will be absorbed by the organism.
2. Eating lots of protein will make your muscles to grow a lot.
It is common to hear: That guy looks like that because he takes too much protein. Eating more meat or taking more protein shakes doesn’t mean more muscles. Muscles grow when there are factors that allow that development. If you are following a training plan, together with balanced meals, protein of supplementation and plenty of rest, you will have the formula for your muscles to grow naturally.
3. Protein shakes are taken without nothing else.
That depends. Most people who drink protein shakes want to have a fast absorption of the body’s amino acids. Taking only the protein shake it is possible to have a quick absorption of protein. However, if you mix it with simple carbs (some honey or half a banana) it can improve its efficiency or accelerate the absorption process due to the natural sugars. The ingestion of carbs is essential to restore muscular glycogen, especially in people that do resistance exercises. An insufficient ingestion of carbs can compromise hypertrophy, since it reduces the ability to do an intense exercise and protein synthesis. It all depends on what you are looking for. If your goal is to make the absorption slower, don’t mix protein with water; mix milk or even some cereals, oat or muesli.
4. Powder protein is better than eating actual food.
It’s not true. Powder proteins are easy to absorb and that is an important factor in the process of growth and recuperation of muscles. However, all protein with animal origin (eggs, dairy products, poultry meat, red meat and fish) have a complete amino acid profile, although a bit different. Some of these foods are richer in certain amino acids than others, which can allow a bigger protein synthesis.
To optimize your gains, you mustn’t choose exclusively the powder protein, supplements must never the base of your diet, but a complement. Chose a wide variety of foods and take protein shakes before and after training or: breakfast/post training, when they are sometimes crucial. Moreover, the various concentrations of amino acids in different foods can be great boosters to gain lean mass. You mustn’t limit yourself to one or two sources of protein. Include a protein supplement and you will see how you can maximize the results.
READ ALSO: What to eat to build muscle mass?
5. Everyone needs to 2g of protein per kg of body weight.
Each case is different and there are no absolute truths. To say that everyone needs 2g of protein per kg of body weight is generalizing because each organism is unique. Hence the importance to have a specialized monitoring so your guidance is the right one. It is said that the ideal weight for athletes who intend to grow is about 2g of protein per day. However, you’re not going to build muscle mass because you’re ingesting more protein if you’re not following a training plan. There are no miracles. The trick is to adjust the amount of protein to your type of workout. If you are a beginning, you will probably not work out as intensely as someone who has been training for longer. So, along with an indication of 2g of protein per kg of body weight, you can potentiate the increase of muscle mass. If you are already in an advanced stage of intense workouts, probably those values will no longer apply to you, and then yes: you should raise your daily dose of protein.
6. Only fast absorbing proteins are good to build muscle.
Many people believe that the rapid assimilation of protein is the only one that helps build muscles, that’s why it is recommended that your take it after working out, when an anabolic window opens for a period of 20-30 minutes.
Both proteins of slow and fast absorption offer benefits and help the muscle tissue to grow. The main difference between the two has to do with the time that each takes to absorb nutrients in the body after their consumption. A fast absorbing protein significantly increases protein synthesis and is used at specific times. The slow absorption one, however, is more used to prevent catabolism during periods in which a person will be more hours without ingesting food (before going to sleep for example). It is a mistake to say that the rapid absorption protein is better than the slow absorption one and vice versa. Both should be used strategically to alter the metabolism in order to promote muscle growth.
David Diaz Gil, Cuatro mitos sobre los batidos de proteínas, adaptation of the original version
Éverton Udson, Mitos sobre as proteínas, the 13 of March, 2011, adaptation of the original version
HST, Exposing The Myths About Protein!, the 28th of July, 2003, adaptation of the original version
JA, Mitos Sobre Los Batidos de Proteínas, the 28th of May, 2013, adaptation of the original version