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The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

Some years ago I gulped down at least 2-3 unflavoured, whey protein shakes a day, while eating multiple chicken breasts. I thought protein was the holy grail when it comes to muscle growth. Yet I didn’t see the results that I truly wanted in the gym. Instead I was feeling low on energy and bloated.

People training in the gym often consume tons of protein because they expect it to be converted into muscles. Yet the effectiveness of excess protein intake, especially protein shakes has never been scientifically proven. If you drink protein shakes regularly, it’s very likely that you’re taking in more protein than you should.

Video Summary

Will Protein Be Converted To Muscles?

The biggest misconception there is on protein, is that muscles consist entirely of it. This isn’t true.

Muscles consist of protein, yes. But only a fraction of your muscles, approximately 20%, actually is protein. The other 80% are made up of different components, mostly water.

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    You don’t need to consume as much protein as you think you do. Let me show you that with a simple calculation:

    In my multiple years as a trainer, I seldom saw an increase in raw muscles more than 5 kilograms in a year. Even for beginners. This is not because I’m a bad trainer, no, this is just the hard truth for natural athletes. There’s a lot of deceptive marketing out there. Don’t believe it. When I started training in the gym I started to look pretty massive after one year of training and gained multiple kilograms, but it was never, never more than 5 kilograms of raw muscle in a single year.

    To continue the math and show you how much protein you would need for that natural muscle gain:

    One-fifth of those 5 kilograms is 1 kilogram. 1 kilogram of raw protein that your muscles would actually need. If you divide that one kilogram of protein again through 365 (amount of the days in a year), you get only a few grams. In fact it is a one-digit figure. This results to only a few grams that you would need to eat extra in a day, to guarantee muscle growth.

    You need way less protein than you think you need. All the excess protein that you will consume, will be converted to fat and stored in fat cells.

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    How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

    You’re more likely to suffer from protein excess, than deficiency. If you eat sufficient calories in your daily life, you will not be protein deficient.[1]

    I myself strive to consume about 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Which might even be too much scientifically speaking, yet moderately higher levels of protein intake are still considered safe.

    Unbiased studies recommend consuming about 0.8 to 0.9 grams of protein per day, if you’re an adult. Most people may even need protein intakes of only 0.6 grams of protein per day, but the recommendation’s aim is to cover most of the bell curve. Experienced athletes may even need less than that, according to some studies, as their body is better able to make use of the protein that they actually consume.

    Once I’ve made that switch to a lower protein diet, I’ve actually experienced less fatigue and more energy in the gym and in my life.

    The Downsides Of Protein Excess

    Protein can do more harm than good. I’ve heard this sentence from my mother many times over, back when I was still drinking frequent protein shakes. I ignored it when I was younger and thought my mother was crazy, yet she still had a decent point.

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    Our current protein focused diet in the western world is promoting hyperfiltration of your kidneys. This increases the workload of your kidneys and therefore increases the stress that you put on that organ. Too much protein in your diet also diminishes the blood flow of your filtration helper and may even leak protein in your urine.[2] Long-term high protein diets may therefore lead to kidney problems. There is also a linkage to increased cancer risk, liver malfunction, and worsening of coronary artery disease.[3]

      Not All Protein Is Created Equal

      There is a guy training in the fitness center that I’m a fitness manager in. He’s a really friendly guy, but suffers from severe kidney problems.

      I recently discussed his workout and nutrition regime with him, so I might give him some additional advice on how to better his condition. I advised him on cutting back his protein shakes and animal protein intake as meat and dairy can lead to an inflammatory response in his body.[4] He’s consuming a lot of protein on a regular basis.

      Sadly he refused to listen to my advice and told me, that his doctors recommended him to keep following his regular diet plan. They told him that altering one’s nutrition doesn’t make a big difference anyway. Tip: If your doctor tells you that, you must change your doctor as soon as possible.

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      Some weeks later, after our workout session, he told me about his holidays with his family. And how he needed to cancel them in the last minute, because he was suffering yet again from intense stomach pains. He had to undergo operation that same day to ease the pain. It was his second alarming operation this year.[5]

      Focus on a plant-based, unprocessed protein source. Such as beans, legumes, seeds and nuts in your diet.

      What To Do Now

      If you drink a protein shake every day, ask yourself: Is this truly working? If not, it may be the time to let go of some of your precious beliefs.

      Consume a plant-based protein shake if you actually like the taste of it. If not, throw it away and don’t waste your money on that beverage ever again.[6]

      Don’t stress protein out too much in your diet. If you don’t like gulping down pounds of lowfat-quark, don’t do it. The extra protein in that food won’t make your muscles pop out. I’ve been there. I was that weird guy that was eating nearly a kilogram of low-fat quark in the morning at 5am after going out, to preserve my muscles. It wasn’t worth it.

      You should take a sincere look at your protein consumption and ask yourself: Am I truly enjoying the excess protein that I put in my body? If not, you should let it go. It isn’t necessary and may even be unhealthy in the long run.

      You have to realize that supplement companies are marketing companies. Ignore those supplements for the beginning and focus on whole foods. Most people in the US are deficient in fiber and antioxidants. A deficiency that can be fatal. It is time to put more fruits and vegetables in your diet and not worry about protein deficiency.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Florian Wüest

      Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

      The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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      Last Updated on July 28, 2020

      14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

      14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

      Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

      What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

      The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

      Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

      It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

      Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

      In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

      Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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      Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

      1. Quinoa

      GI: 53

      Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

      2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

      GI: 50

      Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

      3. Corn on the Cob

      GI: 48

      Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

      4. Bananas

      GI: 47

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      Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

      They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

      5. Bran Cereal

      GI: 43

      Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

      6. Natural Muesli

      GI: 40

      Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

      7. Apples

      GI: 40

      Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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      8. Apricots

      GI: 30

      Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

      Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

      9. Kidney Beans

      GI: 29

      Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

      10. Barley

      GI: 22

      Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

      Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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      11. Raw Nuts

      GI: 20

      Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

      12. Carrots

      GI: 16

      Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

      13. Greek Yogurt

      GI: 12

      Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

      14. Hummus

      GI: 6

      When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

      Bottom Line

      If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

      More Tips on Eating Healthy

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

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