Monday, February 8, 2010

Myth Buster

Yes, I think I should rename myself and this blog - we have been taking on a lot of myth busting over the years, and there is no end in sight. I like it though. I like it when science is used to prove or disprove a concept, especially when I know that misinformed or misled persons are spending their money on products that will not help them and may harm them.

Today the story is protein- powders, shakes, bars and supplements.
The truth is that muscle's gain power, strength and endurance when they are pushed too far in a workout and then repair themselves during the rest or recovery phase. It is also truth that the rebuilding is only possible with the use of protein. What is also truth, but not well known, is that you have enough of that protein already. At least the persons that are reading this blog and the persons who are spending money on gym memberships, fitness equipment and work out gear - those, them, us, me - we are not starving and really only starving people lack protein.

Even someone who practices body building for competition is unlikely to need supplementation. The best source of protein is FOOD. Most persons need about half their body weight in pounds in grams of protein a day. I know that sounds confusing, but a 150 pound person needs 75 grams of protein.

Good sources of protein include dairy products (and nonfat products have just as much protein as full fat ones so don't even try that excuse!), lean meats, legumes (beans and nuts), some vegetables, whole grains and fish. Look at your labels tomorrow just for the heck of it. Track your protein. You are not deprived. Even vegetarians get ample protein.

Several studies have been conducted that show that even athletes do not need protein from nonfood sources and that most people who take them are doing so because a coach, personal trainer, or TV spokesperson suggested it. Most trainers do not know that the body does not need more protein than this .5g/lb of weight.

Two other things need to be said about this. One is that the protein bars, shakes and powders bring in a lot of calories and usually people do not take the protein as a replacement product but as a supplement or in addition to - their regular intake. Another point to consider is that too much protein can indeed harm the body because of the extra work the kidneys must do to process it.

The upshot, in my simple and blunt opinion, is that the protein push is a scam that costs you - at the least it costs you money and calories and at the most, -kidney damage. What we really need more of is the activity that challenges the muscles not the protein that repairs them.

(of course there are persons with specific medical conditions who would be advised by licensed nutritionists and physicians on supplementation - but the rest of us - when in doubt, leave it out)

Research: journal Nutrition January 2010
also, the Canadian Sport Centre Dietary Study
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2008

More info:

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