There’s a tremendous amount of misconception regarding the ever so broad topic of protein. Here are a few things you may not even know when it comes to this essential macronutrient.
Back in 1890 the USDA recommended working men consume 110 grams of protein per day, the Journal of Nutrition reported. Today each person needs a different amount of protein based on gender, height, weight, and activity level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a healthy adult male should consume roughly 56 grams of protein a day.
SO WHAT IS PROTEIN
“Protein is made up of amino acids, it’s the building block of the body. Without it we can’t build all the things that help the body run smoothly—muscle, connective tissue, neurotransmitters, blood cells, hormones,” says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition. “I get questions about it daily from clients—there’s still some confusion.”
That confusion can lead to dietary missteps that both impact nutrition and result in sacrificing hard-earned muscle. “A lot of people still don’t understand that your amino acid stores are constantly being depleted and if you don’t replenish them, your body can pull from your muscle mass to get the protein it requires,” he says.
HERE ARE THE 5 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT PROTEIN
1) You need a protein shake immediately after a workout to build muscle
Fact: This idea is based on what’s known as the anabolic window of opportunity—when the body is sponge-like after a workout, absorbing nutrients in order to refill glycogen stores, kick off protein synthesis, and stop protein breakdown. Newer research shows that the window is broader than originally thought. You have up to 2 hours after a workout to kickoff the recovery process. But even more important is the protein you’re getting throughout the day. Are you consistently refilling that pool
2) What’s Supp
Protein supplements rake in $7 billion a year, according to Euromonitor.
Insects, particularly crickets, are an excellent source of protein. A 2013 UN report suggested more people incorporate entomophagy (scarfing down insects) into their diet to combat world hunger.
4) You should get all your protein for the day in one meal
Fact: I’m asked about this nearly every day, with the majority of people thinking that it’s okay to lump your protein into one meal, like a big steak at the end of the day. But protein intake really needs to be distributed over the course of the day. We only have a limited pool of protein reserves, whereas we have greater reserves of carbs and fat. Think of it like a sink that you’re trying to keep full, but there’s no plug in the drain—you need to replenish your protein stores as they get depleted. Try to get some with each meal.
5) Breakfast Blunders
In 2015 General Mills was sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest over its Cheerios Protein cereal. General Mills was accused of using misleading marketing to tout the amount of protein in the cereal.