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Muscle Building And Protein Intake: Myths And Facts

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You are probably confused about proper protein intake as it relates to muscle building. There is a lot of nonsense floating around on lifting forums. You’ve all heard it, things like “high protein causes kidney damage”, and “your body can’t handle more than 30 grams of protein at one sitting.”

This guide will set the facts straight. You will learn about popular protein myths, protein facts, and be provided with protein intake guidelines so you can maximize the muscle building process.

High Protein Diets and Kidney Health

Myth – High protein diets are bad for your kidneys. False. High protein diets tend to be bad for people who have pre-existing kidney issues. A healthy kidney functions to remove urea (a waste product) from our system. Urea is by-product of dietary protein consumption. When urea is unable to be removed from the blood, it will place a greater amount of stress on your body and kidneys.

Healthy kidneys do not face this issue. Numerous reputable studies confirm this. A high protein diet is perfectly healthy unless you have kidney problems.

Protein Requirements For Muscle Building and Strength Training

Myth – Lifters do not require high amounts of daily dietary protein. False. Dr. Peter Lemon, a top researcher in the field of protein intake, has noted that laboratory data indicates active individuals may need nearly twice the current RDA protein intake recommendations. This equates to about 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight, or around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Those looking to build muscle do need more dietary protein per day. Instead of basing your protein intake on your current weight, it may be beneficial to get a little more aggressive and base your protein requirements upon the weight you are trying to obtain. Eating a little more protein than the recommended amounts suggested by Dr. Lemon is a safer bet than eating the bare minimum amount, and has no downside. Better to be safe than sorry.

You Can Only Digest/Assimilate 30 Grams of Protein per Sitting?

Myth – If you eat over 30 grams of protein it is wasted. False. Your body digests/assimilates a very high percentage of the protein you intake. This myth that anything over 30 grams per meal can’t be assimilated is complete nonsense.

A French study compared two groups:

  • Group A consumed 80% of their daily protein intake during one meal.
  • Group B consumed their daily protein intake over the course of multiple meals.

Data revealed that both groups produced about the same results with regards to protein synthesis, nitrogen balance, etc. So the bottom line…it’s ok to eat more than 30 grams of protein per sitting. It will not go to waste.

Protein Powders Are Useless/Dangerous/Aren’t Real Food

Myth – Protein powders aren’t real food, and are dangerous. False. The idea that protein powders are somehow dangerous is foolish. They are simply protein in powder form derived from whey, soy, egg, etc., with a few minor ingredients including flavoring. Protein powder is no more dangerous than drinking milk or eating an egg.

The idea that protein powders aren’t real food, and are useless, is also completely false. Protein powders are real food, and exist to provide you with a relatively inexpensive and convenient method of drinking protein for those times when you are in a hurry and can’t eat a complete meal, or when you aren’t really hungry enough to eat a complete meal.

You Never Need More Than 150 Grams of Protein Per Day

Myth – When building muscle, you never need more than 150 grams of protein per day. There are several reasons to eat more than 150 grams per day. First and foremost, some of you starting a lifting program may be underweight and capable of gaining quite a bit of quality bodyweight in a short period of time. You will be eating a lot of food, and extra protein may be required.

In addition, you will be eating a lot of calories. Limiting protein usually forces a lifter to eat a massive amount of carbs per day. This is debatably risky when looking at long-term health. It is certainly unbalanced.

Lastly, there is no downside to eating more protein, as we have seen when addressing previous myths. Most successful natural bodybuilders eat 180-220 grams per day, or more. The question becomes, would I rather eat a little more and be safe, or rely on a study that says 150 grams may be all that’s needed? It’s your call. Just be willing to adapt if things aren’t working out.

Muscle Building: How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?

The following are general protein intake suggestions based on daily calorie intake. Those of you eating more calories per day will want to eat a greater amount of protein simply to create a slightly more balanced and enjoyable diet. After all, forcing yourself to eat massive amounts of rice, baked and oatmeal isn’t the most enjoyable way to eat.

  • 4000 calories per day - 250 grams of protein per day. Approx 20-30% of calories from fats, and 525-600 grams of carbs per day.
  • 3500 calories per day - 225 grams of protein per day. Approx 20-30% of calories from fats, and 455-520 grams of carbs per day.
  • 3000 calories per day - 200 grams of protein per day. Approx 20-30% of calories from fats, and 385-440 grams of carbs per day.
  • 2500 calories per day - 180 grams of protein per day. Approx 20-30% of calories from fats, and 312-356 grams of carbs per day.
  • 2000 calories per day - 160 grams of protein per day. Approx 20-30% of calories from fats, and 238-272 grams of carbs per day.

If you are cutting, keep your minimum intake at 180 grams per day regardless of calorie intake. Retaining muscle is difficult enough when losing weight, and the extra protein intake may be beneficial in aiding muscle retention.

If you choose to eat fewer grams of protein than suggested when cutting, make sure you monitor your bodyfat levels with a skinfold caliper. If you appear to be losing muscle, bump your overall protein intake.

Those with very fast metabolisms may choose to increase daily fat intake and reduce carb intake. Fatty foods are very calorie dense, and can make eating a larger amount of food a bit easier.

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