In the world of nutrition, it can be hard to know what to believe at times. With so much misinformation out there, it's important to always go to reliable sources. As JSHealth, we always do thorough scientific research. Today we are busting 5 common myths about protein:
First - what is protein?
Protein is formed by amino acids, the building block of protein! Of the 20 amino acids, 9 are considered essential (those that cannot be produced by the body and required from food) and 11 that are non-essential (those that can be produced by the body).
And what does it do?
Protein serves as the main structural component of muscle, helps to produce hormones and haemoglobin, and can be used as energy. For our bodies to use protein, it needs to be metabolised into its simplest form, amino acids.
5 Common Protein Myths - Busted!
1. "You can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet."
False! Protein-rich plant-based foods such as legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), tofu, tempeh, edamame, nuts and seeds are sufficient to achieve adequate protein in adults that consume a vegetarian or vegan diet. It just requires a little more planning!
2. "Protein powders are only for those who want to build muscle."
Eating protein or using protein powders are not just for those who want to build muscle. Dietary protein plays a vital role in many physiological processes in the body such as maintaining optimal health during normal growth, development and ageing. Individuals should adjust their protein intake and other nutrients according to physiological needs and general health status. A sufficient mix of amino acids are responsible for muscle protein synthesis, mass and function as well as insulin sensitivity and appetite regulation.
3. "Whey protein is superior to plant-based protein."
Whey protein is a common choice for a protein powder due to its high leucine content, quick absorption and its ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein together with resistance training has been shown to promote muscle mass and strength. However this does not mean it is superior to plant-based options.
Those following a plant-based diet or who cannot tolerate dairy often enjoy pea, brown rice or hemp seed protein powder as a replacement for whey protein. A recent study showed that supplementing with pea protein produced similar increases in muscle size and strength as whey protein did.
4. "Timing: you should consume protein straight after a workout."
The timing of protein is a common dietary technique designed to optimise the adaptive response to exercise. Consuming protein directly after or within 30 minutes to 1 hour after exercise has been shown to stimulate muscle repair and enhance strength.
However, research on how effective protein timing is in training studies has been mixed. A study showed that actually consuming adequate protein throughout the whole day in combination with resistance training is key in maximising muscle protein, and that timing does not play as big of a role as once thought. Bottom line: it's more important to consume adequate, quality protein over a 24 hour period, than the specific time you consume it related to a workout.
5. "We all need the same amount of protein."
Protein requirements depend on factors like age, sex, weight, pregnancy, breastfeeding and activity levels.
If choosing to use a protein powder, we recommend that it complements and boosts the diet and that you are still getting a variety of protein rich foods. Protein powders can be convenient and a great way to ensure you’re meeting your protein needs throughout the day.
Try it: JSHealth Protein + Probiotics
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- Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Protein and amino acids for athletes. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):65-79.
- Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Sep;107(3):987-92.
- Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, Guérin-Deremaux L, Saniez MH, Lefranc-Millot C, Allaert FA. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jan 21;12(1):3.
- Schoenfeld, B.J., Aragon, A.A. & Krieger, J.W. The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10, 53 (2013).
- Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38.