Protein has become the king of all micronutrients; high protein foods are great for building and repairing muscle, staying full longer, and increasing your metabolism.
Protein is essential for creating the structure of our hair and nails. It is the foundation of our enzymes, hormones, muscle and other vital tissues. Theyâ€™re also fundamental for the structure of the molecules that transport nutrients throughout our body. This is the reason why high protein diets are very effective at managing weight and helping us live a healthy lifestyle.
However, there are still certain myths about high protein foods that even registered dieticians believe to be true. Fortunately, we are here to dispel some of these mistruths for you.
Here are 5 myths about high protein food you shouldnâ€™t believe:
1. All protein rich foods are low in calories
One of the reasons why protein diets have such huge appeal is that they extol the virtues of eating meat and eggs throughout the day. However, this doesnâ€™t mean you are free to eat as much protein as you like. Here is why:
- Proteins arenâ€™t calorie free. They have fewer calories than carbohydrates, and when compared to metabolizing fats your body will burn more calories metabolizing protein. However, every calorie of protein still counts toward your daily caloric intake.
- The calories are very dependent on the high protein foods that you are eating. There are undoubtedly low sugar, whole grain, protein rich options that make it easy to have a low calorie meal that keeps your daily caloric intake on track. However, a steak cooked in animal fat and covered with butter and bĂ©arnaise sauce is also high in protein, but there are elements of fats and carbs included in that dish that make it just as easy to unknowingly exceed your daily caloric limit.
So, donâ€™t think of protein rich dishes as calorie free food. Itâ€™s as important to pay as much attention to the additional ingredients in your high protein meals as you pay to the ingredients in your other meals throughout the day.
2. The ideal protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day and not a bit more
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is astonishingly small at 0.8 to 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight for healthy people. But most people donâ€™t know that this is the minimum amount required by the body for sustenance. If you work out regularly or have an active lifestyle you may need to consume more proteins in a day.
Studies suggest changing your required protein intake according to your age, gender, lifestyle, and overall need. This means that everyone requires different amounts of protein for optimal muscle growth and satiety.
It is also suggested that you distribute the consumption of your proteins throughout your day instead of consuming them all in one meal. As most people eat a big chunk of protein at dinner, they fail to reap optimal benefits of a high protein diet. Spreading your protein intake more evenly across your daily meals allows your body to utilize the total amount of protein that you consume more efficiently. Plus, when your body has a protein supply to metabolize all day long, youâ€™ll give your body the fuel it needs to fire up into its anabolic muscle building state.
3. Too much protein is bad for your kidneys
Urea is one of the byproducts of proteins, and it is filtered by the kidneys. So the theory is that as you increase the amount of proteins in your diet, more urea is produced and your kidneys have to work double time to filter it.
While it is true that your body starts producing more urea on a high protein diet, there is no evidence to suggest that your kidneys will be adversely affected by this. Just to be on the safe side though, it is recommended that you increase your protein intake gradually. Too much too soon may still cause some kidney problems for people, especially those with a history of renal issues.
4. Animal and Meat sources are the only way to get protein
Our body requires 20 amino acids for sustenance, and these can be consumed in their entirety from animal sources. While plant proteins sources also have these amino acids, no single plant source has all of them. This is the reason why many people have been lead to believe that animal and meat sources are the only way to fulfill their lifestyleâ€™s protein requirements.
However, that is not the case. Plant protein sources can be paired with each other to provide all of the essential amino acids your body requires during one meal (like combining beans and rice in a single meal). Recent studies have also shown that your body stores amino acids, so if you consume a variety of plant protein sources throughout the day, your daily protein intake can easily be met, while also keeping your levels of essential aminos balanced.
Another good way to complement a plant protein diet is to consume whey protein bars at different times in a day, especially after a workout or as a snack. Whey protein contains all the essential amino acids and is easily absorbed in your body. It helps you lose weight, gain muscle strength, and even fight off cancer.
5. Always drink a protein shake after a workout
Protein shakes are considered to be essential after a workout to build muscle and replenish your energy. However, you should only consume a protein shake after a workout if youâ€™re not expecting to have a meal for at least another 2 hours. If you have a post-workout protein shake and follow it up with a full meal, you may end up consuming too many calories for your diet, which will cause your body to store fat rather than just restore your muscles.
It is also believed that you need to consume protein within 30 minutes to an hour after your workout for muscle synthesis, however, that is only true if you want to beef up your body. If your aim is just to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle you have a two to four hour window to consume proteins. If youâ€™re planning on having a meal shortly after your workout, skip the protein shake.
To make sure you donâ€™t consume too many calories replace the protein shake with a protein bar. This is a good way to get proteins for muscle synthesis without going overboard with calories.