Before we get into this let’s go back to the basics for a bit. Everybody knows that our bodies run on calories, calories are our body’s fuel. Any kind of activity we apply during the day whether it’s working out, jogging, working or simply going for a walk requires some amount of calories burned. Some activities burn more some activities burn less. Calories are made up of three major macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. For now, let’s stick with protein. Knowing this it’s clear why protein is essential in an individual’s diet plan.
Protein is crucial for everybody, especially physically active people. It has a various number of functions in the body from building, maintaining fluid balance and help with digestion to supplying us with energy when needed. Protein as a food group and as a macronutrient plays a huge role in the fitness world. No matter if trying to lose weight, gain muscle or simply maintain muscle.
Great sources of protein include foods like: chicken, eggs, beef, fish, dairy products (like milk, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese), protein supplements, beans, nuts and more or as protein powder.
Protein should also be one of the main concerns when it comes down to post workout nutrition. But, sometimes you hear or read something that just doesn’t make sense and confuses the heck out of you.
Here are the most common protein myths I’ve faced with when dealing with post workout nutrition, but busted.
MYTH NO.1: “I can eat any kind of protein after I exercise and still get the same results”
Wrong. This is very false. Let me explain something. During we exercise, especially during doing some serious heavy lifting we damage (minor) our muscle tissues or muscle fibers. That’s why right after we workout it’s important to supply our muscles with high-quality fast absorbing protein, to begin healing and feeding them. On the top of this list without a doubt stands whey protein powder or any plant-based protein powder, waving their flag claiming this land, followed by raw eggs, whole milk and so on. Why?
Whey or vegan protein powders are fast absorbing protein sources. They also contain amino acids including branched chained amino acids or BCAA’s for short making it complete. BCAA’s are essential during and post workout to speed up the process of muscle recovery. Consuming a protein shake after a workout is a great way to reach our goal faster and more efficient.
MYTH NO.2: “Protein should come from fish, meat and eggs only, any other sources are a waste of time”
Sadly, this is a very popular opinion. Athletes, mainly bodybuilders are hooked on meat only protein diets thinking that if they give any other protein source a go they will lose all of their muscle or strength. That is not the case at all! Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you should throw animal sources completely. But you might not need them as much as you think you do.
A lot of nutritional facilities including the American Diet Association claim that protein needs can easily be met just by including plant-based foods into our diet. Foods such as soya, beans, nuts, lentils, peas and so on are excellent plant-based protein sources of protein. They are also naturally high in fiber. Meat sources even though they bring a big amount of protein in our diet (maybe even too much), usually are high in fat, saturated fat, which is the kind of fat you want to avoid!
I’m not saying you should throw animal sources completely. But you might not need them as much as you think you do. A lot of nutritional facilities including the American Diet Association claim that protein needs can easily be met claim that protein needs can easily be met just by including plant-based foods into our diet. Foods such as soya, beans, nuts, lentils, peas and so on are excellent plant-based protein sources of protein. They are also naturally high in fiber. Meat sources even though they bring a big amount of protein in our diet (maybe even too much), usually are high in fat, saturated fat, which is the kind of fat you want to avoid!
MYTH NO.3: “The more protein I eat the bigger I get, thus the more protein the better”
Very wrong! Like I said in the previous statement, everybody has a different caloric needs thus different protein intake needs. Very wrong! Like I said in the previous statement, everybody has a different caloric needs thus different protein intake needs. Studies have shown that more people (mainly athletes) consume a much more protein than they actually need, not thinking or not aware that it comes with a big health risk. Growing takes time. Eating an uncontrollable amount of protein or calories will not get you there faster or as efficient.
Every individual has different needs and it all depends on that individual (age, sex, weight, activity, metabolism and so on). In fact, even though protein is meant for building muscle, consuming a huge amount of it without proper and intense exercise might end up in lowering your testosterone levels and jeopardizing your health. The symptoms of low testosterone levels are certainly not a way to build muscle and it can really change a man’s life. How a man thinks, acts, feels and develops. So the irony here is that protein and testosteronee are the two major components to building muscle and adding size (growing). Diseases such as kidney stones, osteoporosis and cancer are linked with high protein diets according to Dr. Mercola.
How a man thinks, acts, feels and develops. So the irony here is that protein and testosterone are the two major components to building muscle and adding size (growing). Diseases such as kidney stones, osteoporosis and cancer are linked with high protein diets according to Dr. Mercola – a medicine proponent and osteopathic physician. More on that click here. So to sum it all up, with proper nutrition (adequate amount of macronutrient intake) plus proper training plus rest will result in a better, stronger, faster and healthier self.
MYTH NO.4: “I don’t have to consume protein post-workout as long as I consume it throughout the day”
Not quite. Like I said it is very important to consume a fast absorbing and high-quality protein right after a good session in the gym, park or at home.
But does that mean that if I don’t consume it right after a workout that my workout wouldn’t have counted? Heck no! The body is open to protein intake 24 hours after a workout, any amount of protein you consume your body will use to feed your muscles. But, right after a workout (up to 30 minutes after you’ve finished) your body craves it the most, as much as upon waking up. That’s why although daily protein intake is important it’s also important to learn when and how much. Like my mother always taught me: Wash your dishes right after eating, it’s easier and faster to clean them.
MYTH NO.5 :“I’m not consuming the usual amount of protein this day because I’m doing only cardio today”
You’d be surprised but I hear this sentence often. The main reason is either people think it’s a waste of protein if you’re not doing any lifting. Wrong! Just because you’re not hitting the iron or not getting pumped up doesn’t mean you are not challenging your body when doing cardio.
After the session your body will still be in need of muscle recovery nutrition. That’s where the protein shake comes in. Whey powder is recommended. Eating good amount of protein on cardio days will feed your muscles and recover them faster, minimizing muscle loss. When trying to lose weight in general a protein shake after a workout is still recommended. Instead of skipping the shake, try to lower your calories on your other meals (doesn’t have to be calories from protein). Have a lighter dinner, lunch or breakfast.
MYTH NO.6: “After a workout protein and protein only is what you need”
Wrong again. Wait? Isn’t protein the most important macronutrient you need after a workout session? Yes and no. It is essential for quicker muscle recovery and development yes, but no it’s not the only one you need. The best post workout meal (hour to hour and a half after working out) should be a combination of lean proteins, slow digesting carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores and healthy fats.
But, when we’re talking right after a workout, hands down the best choice is a combination of protein with some high-glycemic simple carbohydrates. A great example would be maybe a protein shake with whey, banana, water and blueberries. The reason why is obvious. While working out our bodies use up all of our carbohydrates or sugars for energy (protein or fats as a back-up). After the workout our glycogen and glucose is seriously depleted. This can end up in our bodies using up protein from muscle tissues to restore energy by turning them into glucose, ergo muscle loss.
A high-glycemic index carb source prevents this. It spikes up our insulin levers replenishing our glycogen as fast as possible, as well as helping with transferring nutrients (this is where the protein kicks in) to the muscle tissues.