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Myth: To gain muscle, you need to eat lots of protein or take a supplement.

TRUTH: First, let me put this in perspective:  A 150-lb person would need about 65 grams of protein per day.  65 grams of protein equals: 2 eggs (12g), 1 serving of low fat yogurt (12g), 4 oz Chicken (35g), 1 cup rice (5g).  That’s it. For the day.  But you probably eat more than that now (beans, nuts or seeds, more meats, whole grains, dairy).  Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?

So, while athletes do need more protein than the average person, they don’t need much more.  Even if you’re trying to build muscle.  Muscle is mostly water, but 1 lb of muscle = 100 grams of protein.  Gaining 1 lb of muscle per week is a reasonable goal, so 100 grams over a 1 week period is only 14 extra grams per day.  As you can see from the amounts above, that’s not even an extra piece of chicken!  What you should do is calculate it out using the following numbers:

Recreational athlete: 0.36–0.45 grams of protein per lb of body weight
Serious endurance athlete: 0.55–0.73 grams per lb of body weight
Serious strength athlete:  0.68–0.77 per lb of body weight

Rather than focusing on eating lots of protein, time meals properly.  It’s important to consume protein after a workout, but not in enormous amounts: 10-20 grams after a workout and you’re set.  That’s less than a piece of chicken.  When you get your nutrients from food rather than supplements, your body will absorb them better.

BOTTOM LINE(S):

  • Eat food, not shakes – balanced meals high in carbohydrate and moderate in protein.  To gain muscle, eat an extra 300-500 calories per day by increasing portion sizes or adding a snack.
  • Have carbs before a workout – your body will use the carbs as energy and save the protein for muscle building.
  • Time your meals and don’t let yourself get hungry.  The muscle building process is optimized when your body is fueled properly.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. American College of Sports Medicine: http://www.acsm.org/
  2. American Dietetic Association: Sports, Cardiovascular Wellness and Nutrition Specialty: http://www.scandpg.org/

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One Comment to "Myth: To gain muscle, you need to eat lots of protein or take a supplement."

  1. Karen says:

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