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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Protein to build lean muscle?

For any normal healthy adult with no special dietary considerations, protein supplements are a bad idea. Here’s why.

The idea that protein supplements will help build muscle (“bulk up”) is myth kept alive by faddists and supplement sellers. The body provides the protein required for building muscle by making it on demand, when it needs it. All you have to do is eat a balanced diet (including meat, eggs, and milk if possible) and you will get the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) the body needs to build muscle. Taking a protein supplement in addition to a balanced diet will only cost money, add unneeded calories to your diet, be mostly wasted through excretion, and not do as much to suppress your appetite as a nutritious snack.

When working out to build muscle, you must break down muscle tissue which will be replaced later to create a stronger muscle. The replacement takes place over the 2-4 day recovery period which follows the workout. That is when the new muscle tissue is added and the protein is needed. Because the body does not store excess protein as it does fats, drinking a protein shake or taking supplements before or after a workout makes no sense because that is NOT when your body needs it. And, that is just one more reason why dumping protein into your system at one time makes no sense. The best way to get your RDA of protein is through a normal, balanced diet of nutritious foods, not supplements.

The average person only needs about 60-80 grams of protein per day. That's about the amount of protein available from two or three chicken breasts. You will easily get that amount of protein from a nutritious and balanced diet. And, when you're eating real food, you'll also get the benefit of other nutrients and a digestive process which will help curb your appetite for a longer period of time.

Protein supplements have become a staple of the fitness craze for the past 20-30 years. The supplement industry is huge, powerful, and influential. Supplements are poorly regulated in the US and do not have to meet the stringent standards of read food and drug products set forth by the FDA. And, there are so many scam supplements on the market, the FTC can't keep up with them. Supplement makers don't have to tell you what's in their product or how much or what the quality is. In the past decade many protein supplement producers have been suspect for buying protein from off-shore bulk producers which have contained a variety of toxins including heavy metals, pesticides, etc. For these and other reasons, supplements in general are best avoided. The only supplement you should take is a high quality daily vitamin/mineral pill unless recommended by your health care professional.

Google “protein supplement” and you’ll see a wide variety of commercial products all trying to keep the myth alive with a lot of expensive advertising and silly names like “Muscle Max” or “Mega Muscle”. These products combined with public ignorance, vanity, and the desire for an easy way to look great provide a major source of revenue for a powerful and poorly regulated supplement industry. But Google “protein supplement myth” and you’ll see websites telling you what a bad idea protein supplements are. But, because supplement makers are clever and know this, you’ll also find propaganda supporting protein supplements under “protein myths”. So, how do you know who to believe?

If you want the truth about protein supplements, forget all the junk info on the internet and people who have something to gain and go to the people who have nothing to gain and know the most…the NIH. The National Institute for Health is the US government’s best effort to promote good information for your health.

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