Protein Myths

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Lies, fabrications and outright fiction everywhere you turn — you might think a political convention is in town.

No, its just a general discussion about protein in an ordinary gym. At its core, protein is a simple nutrient. The amino acids from dietary protein represent the bricks that lay the foundation a body uses to create new muscle tissue; if you fall short of the appropriate protein intake, you won’t grow. Simple, see?

That’s why protein has withstood the test of time among bodybuilders. Its vital for growth, and greats from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ronnie Coleman has made it the cornerstone of their mass-building plans.

Still, there’s quite a bit of misinformation passed around at gyms and on the Web regarding everything from how much protein is needed, to how much can be digested, to what form is better for bodybuilding. Here, we sort through the fact and fiction for you, tackling the seven most common misconceptions and setting the record straight.

1. Powders are better than food. Protein powders are easy to absorb, and absorption is an important part of the mass-building process. However, whole-food animal sources of protein, such as eggs, dairy, fowl, red meat and fish, have complete, though somewhat different, amino-acid profiles. Some are higher in certain amino acids than others, and this may be a reason why bodybuilders like Jay Cutler claim that serious mass can’t be built without red meat. Cutler tells FLEX, “When I exclude red meat, I can’t add the mass and grow like I do when I eat it daily and sometimes twice daily.” Is it the iron, B vitamins or creatine in the meat? Maybe. Its also likely that the unique amino-acid combinations allow greater protein synthesis.

For optimal mass gains, don’t succumb to living mainly on powders. Choose a wide variety of foods and include powders before and after workouts, and at times when convenience is essential. The variable amino-acid concentrations among different foods may exert unique effects on you that result in better growth, as opposed to sticking with one or two protein foods or a couple of foods and a protein powder.

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