The High Protein Myth

The excess protein in an athlete's diet, not required by the body, is often around 100 grams per day. Because muscle is 20% protein, the additional 100 grams of protein per day should result in a gain of 500 grams of muscle per day

Or about 1 pound of muscle per day.

If we look at what muscle is actually made up of we see that eating a high protein diet just doesn't add up. Muscle is on]y 20% protein; the rest is water and minerals, lactic acid, urea and high-energy phosphates.

If you ate 100 extra grams of protein every day for one week, you should gain 7 pounds of muscle mass! CLEARLYthis is not the case,

The extra protein results in an increase in the formation and excretion of the waste product "urea"; increases your fluid requirements; and places a considerable load on the liver and the kidneys.

You should avoid protein supplements that provide excessive amounts of protein or selected amino adds. Although heavily advertised, and in some cases endorsed by celebrities, very high protein intakes from supplements are NOT needed to build muscle. This practice can be very expensive, dangerous to your health, and quite unnecessary. A regular balanced diet can meet your protein needs very effectiveiy.

Protein 20% Water 75% Inorganic Salts, Urea, Lactate 5%

Concerns With Very High Protein Intakes

  • Increases the work load of the kidneys and in extreme cases result in kidney failure. In some individuals this practice has resulted in hypertension,
  • Can be dehydrating especially during endurance events if additional fluids are not consumed.
  • High intake of free amino acids may cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
  • Creates imbalances of the essential amino acids.

Worksheet 10-2. How Much Protein Do I Eat?

For each weekday day over a one week period, write down all foods you ate that day that are high in protein. Using food labels and protein values in Appendix 3, record the protein content of each food in grams. For example: if you ate a hard-boiled egg and drank a glass of skim milk for breakfast on Monday record under Monday those foods in the column labeled FOOD and in the column labeled G for grams enter 6 and 8. Similarly write down the food or protein supplement and its protein content for each day Then, add up the numbers to see how many grams of protein you typically eat.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Food

G

Food

G

Food

G

Food

G

Food

G

TOTAL

TOTAL

TOTAL

TOTAL

TOTAL

As you can see it is relatively easy to meet your daily protein requirements from food. You will probably find that your intake is far greater than your actual requirement.

Other Nutritional Requirements

Carbohydrate Requirements

Strength training relies on glycogen stores for energy. Thus, carbohydrates (CHO) are very important.

55 to 60% of your daily energy intake should come from CHO

The CHO recommendations for strength training are somewhat less than for endurance athletes since the overall energy requirements of weight lifting are less. BUT depending on your training schedule and length of your aerobic workouts, you may need 2.5 to 4 grams of CHO per pound body weight per day. For more information on carbohydrates see Chapters 2 and 9.

You may remember the term carbohydrate loading from Chapter 9. This practice is discouraged for weight lifters because of the extra water stored in the muscle. In other words, CHO loading provides no additional advantage in increasing musde girth.

Fat Requirements

A thorough discussion of fat was provided in Chapter 2. But for fats in general, the recommendation is:

Less than 30% of your energy should come from fat

Remember there are three different types of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats and each should provide less than 10% of the daily energy.

Vitamins and Minerals

Meet your daily energy needs from a variety of different foods, should enable you to easily meet you vitamin and mineral needs. See Appendixes 5 and 6 for information on food sources of various vitamins and minerals.

Body Building Secrets Revealed

Body Building Secrets Revealed

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