Protein Myths

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2. Protein needs are static. Bodybuilders trying to gain mass tend to stick to the same protein intake day in and day out. For example, a 200-pounder may eat as many as 300 grams of protein a day, with plenty of calories coming from carbohydrates in order to create a caloric surplus. Of course, protein and calories are the basics of muscle building. However, you can stimulate your body by mixing things up: one or two days out of every 10 or so, consume up to 400, 450 or 500 g of protein. Ideally, do this on training days to better stimulate growth. Changing levels specifically, instigating a surplus of amino acids in the blood can cause an increase in protein synthesis, the buildup of muscle mass in the body. Remaining faithful to the same protein intake day in and day out is OK, but varying protein intake with an occasional day or two of a very high consumption can lead to greater gains.

3. Everyone needs a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Although the typical recommendation of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is as close to a rule of thumb as there is, which is why we often tout it in the pages of FLEX, its not etched in stone. For true hard gainers who bust their butts in the gym, that number should be increased by 50%, to 1.5 g per pound of bodyweight. Keep in mind that you won’t grow regardless of how much protein you consume if you are slacking in the gym or training like a wuss.

The key is to match your protein intake with your training. If you’re a beginner, you probably don’t train as hard as someone with a lot of experience and you probably shouldn’t anyway so you may be able to get by on slightly less than a gram per pound of bodyweight. If you are a hardgainer or train with intensity on par with your favorite pro, start with 1 g per pound per day, but don’t hesitate to move it up from there if you fail to make significant visible gains.

4. You can digest only a certain amount of protein per meal. Somewhere along the way, the idea that a body can handle no more than 30 g of protein per sitting wedged its way into nutrition circles. That’s an old wives tale. Do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger grew on 30 g of protein every three hours, the equivalent of eating only four or five ounces of chicken at each meal? Think again. Protein digestibility and the amount your body can handle per meal is tied to how much you weigh and how hard you train. The more you weigh, the more you need; the harder you train, the more you need. In turn, the more you need, the more you’ll be able to digest, absorb and assimilate. A 200-pound male will, in general, need more protein than a 160-pounder and should be able to digest more per meal. Digestibility is also linked to the amount of protein you consume on a regular basis. The more protein you eat regularly, the better your body becomes at digesting large protein meals.

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