Whether you’re new to the gains game or you’re used to the gym being your happy place, there are always murmurs about protein and its myths.
Questions around when best to consume it, which foods it’s found in and what increasing your protein intake really results in are just a handful of common queries regarding the highly popular and essential macronutrient.
The hashtag #nutritionmyths has been viewed over 6.0M times on TikTok with #proteinmyths being viewed over 264.9K times meaning people are searching for useful information on the real truths about protein and how to incorporate it into their diet.
Maximuscle’s Performance Nutritionist Maximuscle, Gareth Nicholas, debunks the most common protein myths, ensuring you’re not listening to the whispers around the gym and consuming protein the right way for your goals.
MYTH #1 More protein gives me more muscle
Sadly, devouring chicken breasts throughout the day doesn’t automatically result in more muscle. As ideal as it sounds that the more protein you consume the more muscle you build, it is not as simple as that.
The delivery of amino acids from your diet, combined with appropriate strength training is key for muscle growth and maintenance. Whilst those daily protein bars may be tasty there is more work to be done to gain muscle growth!
MYTH #2 I need to consume protein straight after a workout
You always see people in the gym chugging a protein shake straight after their workout. Whilst this is not the wrong thing to do, there is a lot of research still to be done considering when is best to consume protein.
Many consume their protein either prior to or immediately following resistance training. This positively affects muscle protein synthesis which encourages muscle mass and strength.
Research now shows the timing of protein ingestion is more specific when you also consider the type of training you are doing – this means it may differ depending on the type, intensity and frequency of training.
Although the timing of protein intake should be considered, greater importance should be placed on the amount of protein ingested daily – this should be between 1 – 1.8g per kilogram of body weight.
MYTH #3 Protein is only found in meat
The cliche ‘chicken and rice’ meal prep food is not the only meal and source of protein there is in food.
Whilst protein is found in animal-based foods such as meat, eggs and dairy, not many realise that protein is also found in a number of grains, legumes, nuts and some vegetables.
Yes, it is true that meat tends to have a higher proportion of protein per 100g compared to its plant-based alternatives, however, this does not mean that you can only eat meat to increase your daily protein intake!
MYTH #4 Its best to consume all protein in one sitting
Cramming so much protein all into a single meal seems an efficient way to reach your daily protein intake. But studies show that, actually, a dose of about 20g per meal or snack is enough.
If you’re wanting to increase your protein intake, it’s best to redistribute protein throughout the day using protein-dense snacks such as protein bars or a handful of nuts.
MYTH #5 All protein is the same
Not all protein sources are the same. Animal proteins are widely known as ‘complete’; this means they provide all the essential amino acids that we can’t make in our bodies which we have to get from our food.
Plant-based sources of protein, however, are known as ‘incomplete’ sources of protein. This means they don’t contain all the essential amino acids required, they only contain a small number of them.
If you are a vegan or veggie and you are reaching for plant-based sources of protein regularly, ensure you are mixing your protein sources such as nuts and legumes, or grains and beans.
MYTH #6 Protein supplements are too calorific for their benefits
To some extent, it is understandable where this myth came from – the more food you eat the more calories you consume. Therefore, excess calories over what you expend through daily exercise will lead to increased body weight.
For those that exercise, calories expended will increase and you will need protein to support muscle maintenance. This also means you will need to consume the right amount of protein to restore muscle without excess calories.
The key formula is, for each kilogram of body weight, consume 1 – 1.8g of protein per day. This is dependent on intensity, frequency and type of training.