Whatever your goal may be, to build and recover muscle or to improve your health, proteins play a very important role in your life, especially in nutrition.
The argument so often heard that proteins only serve to enlarge your muscles, doesn’t make much sense.
Numerous scientific studies show that without sufficient protein your body could suffer serious health problems, so getting a fit or healthy body would be impossible.
We need to understand that protein is fundamental. It provides the basis where the tissues of your body, such as muscle tissue, is repaired and built.
There’s much confusion about this great nutrient, and that’s why I’ll clarify some myths about protein, so there won’t be any doubts.
Top 5 myths about protein
1.We can only obtain proteins from animal sources
This is not true!
Vegetable proteins are fully capable to increase our muscle mass. Their biological value may be different, and sometimes less than that of animal protein sources, but they‘re a very optimal choice.
Among the vegetable protein sources we mainly have: legumes, seeds and nuts.
We have to learn to combine them so they will be “complete” and have all the amino acids that the organism isn’t able to synthesize by itself and must be obtained through food.
You can learn more about vegetable protein sources here.
2. Proteins are enough to build muscle mass
It’s a mistake to think that by only ingesting proteins can we build muscle mass. It’s necessary to accompany our intake of proteins with carbohydrates and healthy fats, as well as regular exercise.
Carbohydrates, among other things, give you the energy needed to train and facilitate the absorption of nutrients. It’s important to combine them with the consumption of proteins to facilitate their absorption.
Fats are also a source of energy, and play an important role in the absorption of nutrients, while helping to maintain body health, improving cardiovascular health and supporting the hormonal production at the same time.
It’s necessary to have a balanced diet with all macronutrients, so all processes of muscular construction will develop efficiently.
3. Protein requirements are the same for everyone
Of course not.
Among other things, they vary depending on the stage of life you’re in and your level of activity, for example.
For an adult, the amount of proteins per day would be around 0.8-1g/kg.
As proteins are essential for the growth and development of our body, they will be even more important for children and pregnant women.
- For children (1-10 years) it would be between 1.0 and 1.2g/kg. For babies, the needs are greater.
- For pregnant women it’s more complex, since she’d have to increase progressively each trimester (1st trimester +1.3g, 2nd trimester +6.1g and 3rd trimester +10.7 g/day).
Check the chart to discover the exact values!
Finally, for athletes, these needs may also vary. Find out why and some of the recommended values in the article about protein needs.
4. Endurance athletes don’t need more protein than people who don’t exercise
Endurance athletes may need extra proteins, especially to repair the muscle tissue that was damaged during training and to reduce muscle pain and fatigue.
Intensive endurance training results in depletion of a significant amount of stored fuels (including glycogen and amino acids) as well as damage to muscle fibers.
Therefore, the average recommended value (0.8g/kg) may not be sufficient for endurance athletes, but it may be sufficient for a person who doesn’t exercise or who moves very little.
The recommended values for these athletes normally vary between 1 and 1.6g per kg of body weight (see the blog article).
5. All proteins are the same
This isn’t true!
A good way to differentiate them, is by their biological value. The biological value measures the efficiency with which a particular protein source can be used by our body, and is also related to the quantity/origin of the amino acids of each source.
The foods with a higher biological value are those of animal origin (eggs being the reference food, whey protein being the source with the highest biological value), these sources contain, usually, all the amino acids we need.
But those of vegetal origin can achieve a high biological value by complementing them properly, so that the excesses of one source compensate the deficiencies of others.
We shouldn’t obsess about proteins, since it’s another macronutrient that we should include in a balanced diet, with complex carbohydrates of low GI (preferably, depending on the goal), proteins with a high biological value and healthy fats.
Over time, many myths were created about proteins.
However, currently it was proven that to have an active metabolism and a healthy body composition, a quantity of proteins that’s suitable for your level of physical activity and stage of life is required.
One of the ways to consume proteins, more pure and concentrated and quite popular among athletes, is through supplements. You can see some options here!
What other myths have you heard of? Share it in the comments!