4 Protein Myths to Stop Believing
As 2019 is in full effect, there’s one question buzzing around the internet — “does protein make you fat?”
The short answer is yes and no. But that doesn’t mean I’m undecided.
I know a few people who wonder why they are fat when their daily protein intake is less than 40 grams per day… and they are eating somewhere in the 2500 calorie range. They add some protein to their already overloaded diet, and they start to get fatter.
Related - How to Pick the Best Protein Powder
Instead of making proper nutritional choices, they blame protein for making them fat. Someone else hears the story and eventually you have people who believe that protein makes you fat.
But more on that myth later.
There are a lot of protein myths out there, but here are four myths that I hear tossed around the most.
#1 - We Can Only Digest 30 Grams of Protein in One Sitting
Our body composition, genetics, and lifestyle all play a factor in how our metabolism works. There are a lot of numbers thrown around when it comes to protein absorption, but a lot of the information is just doesn’t add up.
There’s a commonly cited protein absorption study that found a protein absorption of 20 grams for post-workout protein stimulated the most protein synthesis in young men. So people now suggest that easting more than 20 grams of protein did nothing more in terms of stimulating muscle growth.
So the flaw in this argument is you can’t use a study on anabolic response to protein consumption to try to extrapolate ideas about how much our bodies absorb in one sitting.
If anything, this study should tell us that we need to eat at least 20 grams every time we eat protein.
#2 - Excess Protein Can’t Be Stored as Fat
I still don’t understand this myth. If you eat too much you get fat. Period.
If your body burned 2500 calories today and you ate 3200 calories, your body will store those 700 calories as energy to be used later.
So the myth that protein can’t be stored as fat is bogus. Would I rather see someone overeat calories with chicken breast versus a donut? Yes. But you are still overeating.
#3 - More Protein Equals More Gains
Opting to only eat meat may not be a bad idea, but unless you are a top athlete, you really don’t need more than .8 grams to 1.2 grams of protein per lean mass to make decent gains.
One thing that has helped me in my weight loss journey is to use fresh meats in all of my meals. I try to eat some fish, chicken, beef, or pork in every meal — and it doesn’t have to be a bunch. Getting four to six ounces of chicken or pork loin is filling and will fuel your muscles for growth.
#4 - Chicken is the Best Protein
While chicken is a solid choice for protein — if you only eat chicken — you’re missing out. We need to eat a wide variety of protein sources so we can get the different amino acids we need.
Below is a list of some great protein sources. Start cooking with them and learning how to prepare meals — it will be the best investment in yourself you can spend.
Good Protein Sources
There are a lot of different protein sources out there. This list isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will give you some ideas of what you should start trying to eat.
- Fish and Seafood - Alaskan Salmon, Cod, Herring, Mahi Mahi, Mackerel, Perch, Rainbow Trout, Sardines, Striped Bass, Tuna, Pollock, Tilapia
- Tofu and Tempeh
- Whey Protein
- Pork (I love bacon)
- Whole Eggs
A Little Bit about Whey Protein
Whey protein is an easy-digesting protein that many people can benefit from. Most whey proteins have a great amino acid profile and are a great addition to a balanced diet.
Protein shakes are great for those who eat healthy but would like to get a few more calories per day into their diet. Drinking the calories is easier than choking down another piece of chicken — especially when you can add milk to increase your calories.
So Does Protein Make You Fat?
Protein is a vital component to building muscle and living a healthy life. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’re going to gain weight.
It doesn’t matter if it is protein, fruits, veggies, a donut, salad... If you overeat, you will gain weight.
Strive to cook your own food with nutritious and natural foods. Don’t be afraid to learn new recipes and use ingredients you’ve never heard of — it can be fun.
So no, protein doesn’t make you fat. I invite you to try to think of all foods as calories. Instead of opting for that sugary drink or processed carb, think about how much bacon or chicken you can eat.