One of the biggest dividing issues in the world of bodybuilding is the amount of protein one should take. Magazines, internet merchants, health food shops even your local supermarket are loading up on this stuff. The messages are clear, 'build muscle - eat more protein', 'lift heavier weights - eat more protein' 'lose fat - eat more protein'. Protein, protein and protein. God, enough already!
Protein is important when weightlifting, that is a given. Is it more important than carbohydrates and fat for building muscle? Yes it probably is, but only just. Does that mean load up on the stuff for optimal results? In a word, no. More is not better. In fact more could give a plethora of health problems (kidney stones, for example).
There is a lot of quasi science on the subject, like ingest one gram of protein per one pound of bodyweight to maintain muscle and more if you want to gain muscle. It sounds rather good even sounds logical, nevertheless it is scientifically unproven. Yep - scientifically unproven!
Lots Of Protein Equals Lots Of Muscle. How Did This Message Get Out?
Cynically speaking, it was a marketing ploy. The proliferation of protein supplements appearing everywhere from muscle shops to supermarket chains meant that to keep selling these products the companies had to perpetuate a lie that lots of protein consumed meant lots of muscle. It worked. People have bought into it, ‘hook, line and sinker’.
The first clue to the lie is in the product itself. Is a called a protein supplement not protein replacement. However it is better for the supplement companies if they can get the public to think of it in terms as a replacement. Ten times more sales that way. How do they do that then? The answer is below.
Eating Lots Of Protein Is Boring
Eating lots of protein is hard work and boring too. The supplement companies are well aware of this. It is far easier to drink protein rather than sit ploughing through piles of egg-whites, tuna, chicken. Ergo, if you send the message to the uninitiated that you have to consume loads of protein to see gains, how are they going to get it? Exactly, they are going to drink it.
Protein Is Your Friend (As Long As You Are On Anabolic Steroids)
Having said all that, here is the rub, vast amounts of protein do work for some, however, the catch is you have to be on anabolic steroids to see the benefit!
For those that are not aware, muscle grows through a process of protein synthesise which happens after you train, eat and rest. Every muscle has loads of fibres and each fibre has protein running through it. These fibres suffer microscopic tears after a heavy workout, and a post protein rich meal and rest will replenish these tears and as a result the muscle will come back stronger. Thus, protein is pretty darn important, however too much is counter productive!
Unfortunately, the human body is not as efficient as we would like it to be for our muscle pursuits. In a natural lifter (without the aid of steroids), the body takes about 48 hours (maybe even longer) to totally recover from a bout of heavy exercise and unless you have the genetics of a, ‘Greek God’ the body will not digest the amount of protein and get it to the muscle fibres for them to recover quickly enough. Thus, the extra protein one would take will just be eliminated from the body.
However, if you are on steroids it is a different story. You can fully recover in 24 hours, maybe even less. Since recovery is significantly faster, the protein synthesis is more efficient in these individuals. Thus more protein is better. In fact it is not unusual to hear of steroid subjects reporting a 50 % increase in protein synthesis. Yep, you heard correctly, a 50% improvement!
So when you hear professional bodybuilders prattling on about the importance of a lot of protein in the diet you can now see why and understand how they feel that way. They are on lots of different steroid compounds and protein becomes their friend. Remember, these are the guys on the front of your muscle magazines and are the ones that get interviewed. Thus, the protein lie to its non-steroid readers gets told and retold time and time again.
So what do you do if you are a, ‘natty’ (a drug free user)?
A good bit of advice is follow the kiss protocol (keep it simple, stupid). After a taxing workout you will get hungry and you will want more food than normal so eat more paying particular attention to increasing your protein amount for repair purposes. If the hunger persists, keep eating. If it stops, you stop. Keep it simple, your body will tell you what to do.
Boys And Their Roids