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Debunking the protein myth

The fitness world is full of myths and assumptions about protein, something that can get confusing for both fitness veterans and newcomers. Many wonder if it necessary to supplement protein, when to supplement protein, how much is too much, and, if so, if it will make them look like Arnold Schwartzenegger (women especially tend to worry about this one, and the answer is no… unless you’re also adding testosterone supplements to your morning shake). The only thing that is not up for discussion is whether or not protein is important, which it obviously is. After all, protein is the building block of muscle and bone, as well as of hair nails and skin. Eating protein rich foods keeps you fuller for longer, and helps to stabilize blood sugars, which decreases body fat. Protein also gives you energy and stamina and can keep you from burning out during a workout. But we know that too much protein can also be harmful.

So that’s all well and good. But how much protein should a person be consuming to gain muscle and stay healthy, then? The short answer is, it all depends on your age and level of activity. A 25-year-old bodybuilder will require much more protein than a 65-year-old jogger. The good news is, if you have a relatively average fitness level, you can calculate how much protein to consume (it’s roughly 20-30 per cent of your total intake, according to medical professionals) using a tried and true formula using caloric intake to calculate how many grams of protein you should aim to consume.

For example, if you’re a male who consumes about 2,200 calories per day:

2200 x 0.20 = 440 protein calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories, so if you divide the number by 4, that’s approximately 110 grams of protein per day to build muscle.

While protein shakes are easily absorbed and good in a pinch, especially post-workout when your body needs it most,  protein rich foods are preferable for maximum nutritional benefit. Consume quality food like eggs, legumes, tofu and lean meat. In the end, though, you probably need less protein than you think, as few people are deficient in protein. While it’s important to be aware of what you’re consuming, protein myths don’t always have to be acknowledged. Most will stay as just that… myths to be debated.

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