Plenty of people have a lot to say and share about protein, but those general discussions in the gym can quickly get out of hand and leave people confused and uncertain about the basic facts. For starters, protein is one of the body’s main nutrients and is taken from the amino acids in your diet which help to create and build new muscle tissue. Put simply, a lack of protein equals a lack of growth. Additionally, a lack of the right information has meant that there are a number of misconceptions when it comes to protein, from how much the body requires to which forms are most efficient for bodybuilding. The following list will clarify the fact and the fiction for you.

1. Complementary proteins encourage growth.

Although your average complimentary proteins will certainly provide you with protein, the type of protein derived from such non animal sources are not the best for supporting protein synthesis. This is because they are not complete proteins and do not contain the essential amino acids which the body requires to build mass. The complete spectrum of amino acids can only be found in animal based proteins such as fish, red meat, milk and eggs. This is why non animal sources are called complementary proteins, they lack the required amino acids needed for creating anabolic and recovery environments in your body.

2. Powders work better than food.

Granted, protein powders are effective. Not only are they efficient, they’re easily absorbed by the body, something crucial to the mass-building process. However, they can’t compete with complete amino-acid profiles which are found in whole-food animal sources of protein such as eggs, dairy, red meat and fish.

For the best mass gains, DON’T LIVE ON POWDERS! Be sure to incorporate high protein foods into your diet. The combination of iron, B vitamins and creatine in the likes of red meat allow for greater protein synthesis meaning you see better and quicker results. Include powders pre and post-workout instead or at times when convenience is necessary.

3. Protein requirement levels

When it comes to gaining mass, many bodybuilders will stick to the same daily protein intake. Although there is nothing wrong with maintaining and sticking to a routine, varying your intake with a day or two of higher protein consumption can lead to greater gains.

Stimulating the body by alternating your diet will lead to an increase in protein synthesis. This change instigates a surplus of amino-acids in the blood which then lead to a build up of muscle mass in the body. Maybe every 2 weeks or so on training days, try consuming up to double your regular intake protein to see if you experience improved results.

4. A gram of protein per pound of bodyweight for all?

Although the rule and typical recommendation of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is considered a good rule of thumb for all body builders. Like everything, it’s not set in stone.

It is important that you match your protein intake to your training routine. For beginners, it isn’t essential to train as hard as someone with lots of prior experience, so it’s possible for you to get by with less than the general rule. However, if you’re a hard gainer, you may find that increasing the 1g per pound per day rule by 50% will result in more significant gains.

Don't believe protein myths when it comes to training!
Don’t believe protein myths when it comes to training!

5. Only a certain amount of protein can be digested per meal.

The common misconception that the body is only capable of handling 30g of protein per meal. But this can vary. The amount of protein your body can handle and how much is it capable of digesting is based on your weight and the intensity of your training – the more you weigh and the harder you train, the more you need. As a result, your body will absorb and assimilate at a greater rate since the more protein you get in your system, the better the body becomes at digesting it. So we say 30-45g on average per meal.

6. Protein shouldn’t be used as an energy source.

This misconception applies primarily to dieting bodybuilders who are advised to cut back on carbohydrates because they cause a loss of muscle tissue. However, increasing protein while dieting is beneficial as it offers your body an alternative for fuel. Since a low carb diet can cause muscle tissue to break down, increasing protein consumption acts as a substitute. This is done by burning amino acids directly and gluconeogenesis – a process which converts amino acids into glucose.

7. Dairy based proteins cause fat & water retention

The idea that dairy-based proteins (milk, cheese and yoghurt) will lead to increased fat or water conception is probably one of the biggest protein related misconceptions. Incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet, dairy is a great source of protein and research shows that when combined with a low-calorie intake, could actually induce fat loss.

8. Sodium spikes & water retention

There is the idea that foods such as cottage cheese containing excessive sodium will result in potential water retention are also flawed since bodybuilders actually benefit from sodium. It drives glycogen storage levels and by interacting with protein, indirectly supports growth and leads to muscle repair. However, it’s important to note that any abrupt changes in sodium intake can lead to water retention. Just like dairy products and any other foods, it is important to keep your intake relatively consistent and gradually build up to any changes.