A Healthier U


PROTEIN MYTHS AND FACTS

  1. Myth: More protein = more muscle

Fact: Consuming more protein in your diet isn’t enough (on its own) to build or maintain muscle strength and mass. Consistent strength training is necessary for building lean muscle mass. Lifting heavier and heavier weights and other resistance exercises will help your body hold on to and build muscle, especially as you age.

  1. Myth: The more protein you eat the better

Fact: Most Americans eating a typical Western diet are consuming adequate amounts of protein. Individuals on a strict vegetarian diet likely need to be more conscientious about meeting their protein needs, while many lacto-ovo vegetarians are able to meet their daily requirements with ease.

Adults can absorb roughly 25-30 grams of protein at one sitting. That is equivalent to 2 large eggs, or a 3-ounce portion of meat or poultry. Instead of focusing on packing more protein into your diet, work on re-distributing protein-rich foods evenly throughout the day. Endurance athletes can check their average intake with this formula: 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on activity levels.

  1. Myth: Protein is good, carbohydrates are bad

Fact: Both protein and carbohydrates are part of a nutritionally balanced diet. This can be especially true for endurance athletes, who need adequate carbohydrates to fuel energy needs. As the body’s main energy source, carbohydrates should take up the majority of your plate — remember, fruits, veggies, grains and legumes (beans) are considered carbohydrates.

  1. Myth: High-protein low-carb diets help you lose weight

Fact: Excess protein calories will not magically turn into muscle. Consuming adequate amounts of protein throughout your day can help with satiety — feelings of fullness. However, there is a limit to this effect, and overdoing calories (whether from protein or other macronutrient sources) can eventually lead to weight-gain. If you are interested in increasing feelings of satiety think about swapping some carbohydrate calories for protein-rich calories. An example is: if you usually eat a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, reduce the bagel portion to make room for eggs or some Greek-style yogurt.

  1. Myth: If you’re tired, you’re probably low on protein

Fact: Feeling fatigued all of the time could be a sign of protein deficiency, but usually only if your protein stores are severely depleted (not something that happens if you skip eating protein-rich foods for a day or so). In most cases feeling tired is likely due to other factors and has nothing to do with your protein intake.

The Bottom Line

Eating excess protein offers no additional benefit to a sports diet. It doesn’t turn in to extra muscle. It is either burned for energy or stored as fat.

Adequate protein is important to build and repair muscles, make new red blood cells, and allow hair and fingernails to grow. Only about 10-15 percent of your day’s calories need to come from protein.

  DAILY PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS 
Population Grams protein per pound of body weight
Sedentary adult 0.4
Recreational cyclist 0.5-0.7
Endurance cyclist 0.6-0.7
Growing teenage athlete 0.7-0.9
Cyclists building muscle mass 0.7-0.8
Cyclist restricting calories 0.8-0.9

 


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