If I got a dime for every single time I hear a woman say “I don’t take protein, because it makes you fat” I’d be rich by now. Like, Bill Gates kind of rich. I don’t fully understand where this misconception comes from - probably because all the protein powder ads feature bulky, Tarzan-lookalikes and muscular ladies, who look like Miss Fitness contestants?
Whatever the reason, let’s get one thing straight - a ripped, toned body NEEDS protein (in powder or other form). And here are some of the most popular myths and facts around protein consumption:
Some popular myths
MYTH 1: Protein makes you bulky
There is this common belief among some ladies that eating iceberg lettuce with every meal and juicing religiously will get you a 6-pack in 8 weeks. I find this quite funny. Because if one thing is sure, it’s that lettuce doesn’t help you grow muscles. Not in 8 weeks. Not EVER.
You know what builds muscle? That’s right - protein. But not necessarily in a body-builder kind-of-way. Building that kind of body takes years of discipline, hard work and some lucky genetics. If it were that easy to get that ripped and toned - we’d all be bodybuilders.
Think of it this way - if you ate 2 whole chickens a day - would you magically grow manly biceps, triceps and epic deltoids? Uhm, no. Neither is lifting heavy weights going to make you look like a man, simply because you don’t have the testosterone needed for it.
What you will get instead is strong, lean muscles. That is - IF you make sure to get your daily dose of protein after a workout to help those muscles repair and grow.
Greens don’t help muscles grow. You’re not Popeye!
MYTH 2: Protein makes you fat
If your daily protein intake is more than the suggested and you sit on your ass all day, then yes - it will make you fat. So will drinking coke and regular visits to McDonalds by the way, but that’s another topic of discussion.
What makes you fat is (put very simply!) consuming more calories than you burn in a day.
So is there such a thing as having “too much protein”? Sure. There is a recommended daily intake and going above it is not adviseable. The protein won’t get fully utilised by the body and will put strain on your liver. Excess protein gets converted into fat, just like any other excess calories do.
Also, excess protein runs up the risk of dehydration IF you are not drinking enough water. That’s because protein requires water for metabolism and excretion. To conclude - protein won’t make you fat, UNLESS you consume more than your body can utilise.
MYTH 3: Too much protein is hard on the liver
You know what’s hard on the liver? 10 shots of tequila, followed by a bottle of vodka and one too many Long Islands. Protein on the other hand - not really.
Now, of course - as with anything - if you consume it in excess it can become taxing on the liver, preventing it from effectively converting the synthesised protein into usable amino acids. Recommended daily intake is 0,8 grams of protein per kilogram for body weight (or 0,36 grams per pound) for the average sedentary person. So if you weigh 60 kg (132 pounds) - your suggested protein intake is around 41 grams.
MYTH 4: Protein is only for gym-goers
Actually, no. The human body needs 9 essential amino acids to be fully functioning and healthy. Regardless whether you are a fitness junkie or a couch potato, you still need a balanced diet, so that all your bodily functions run properly.
What is true though, is that people who work out or are generally more active need more protein, simply because they need the extra energy (muscles burn more calories than fat). If you hit the gym every day and sweat it off on the treadmill, you shed fat and burn calories, which means you will need to restore your energy afterwards. Binge-watching Netflix, on the other hand, doesn't require that much energy. Trust me, I know.
And some facts
FACT 1: Is a source of energy
FACT 2: Produces enzymes and hormones
FACT 3: Maintains and grows muscles
FACT 4: Supports immune system function
FACT 5: Makes you feel full for longer
Bottom line: It is all about striking the right balance and not forgetting to throw in a regular workout session. Don't be afraid to introduce more protein into your diet, just as long as it is within the recommended daily intake. The key is after all to feel AND look good, right?