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A friend recently started weight training. The trainer advised him a post-workout protein powder & hence my friend bought whey protein. The whey protein was lying innocently on one of the kitchen shelves. Little did it know that it is going to stir a debate in the house. My friend’s mother shouted, “See what your son is having? He has bought steroids.” The poor guy spent an hour convincing his parents that proteins and steroids are not the same. Have you come across such a scenario in your life? We are sure you must have. To make your life easier, we have tried to bust 5 common protein myths for you in this article. Read on & decide for yourself whether it is a friend or a foe?
Myth no 1: Whey protein is a steroid
This is probably one of the most common protein myths. Protein powder is simply a powdered food. The powders are made from food sources like soybeans, peas, rice, eggs, milk, etc. Whey protein is made from milk. Whey protein or any protein powder for that matter is just a nutritional supplement. Proteins are essential macro nutrients that help in building muscles, tissues, bones, transport enzymes, hormones and perform a variety of important bodily functions.
We all need proteins daily. Some people like bodybuilders, athletes require more protein. Hence to meet the daily needs, protein powders are recommended. Ideally, depending upon the type & intensity of exercise, bodybuilders and athletes should consume around 1 to 2 gram of proteins per kg body weight daily.
Anabolic steroids on the other hand are synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of the male hormone, testosterone. These drugs cause an abnormal increase in muscle mass and tissue. Since it’s an unnatural way of gaining muscles, it comes with a host of side effects like infertility, erectile dysfunction, paranoia, stomach issues, acne, hallucinations, etc.
So, now that you know the difference between the two, next time someone tells you that protein is a steroid, you know what to answer. And if they still disagree, you can safely conclude that they are envious of your muscles!
Myth no 2: A plant-based diet cannot give proteins
Of all the protein myths circulating, this one seems to be propagated by some non veg lovers. Although animal sources provide first-class protein, that doesn’t mean you can’t get proteins from vegetarian sources. All foods contain proteins. We need them for growth, repair & maintenance of bodily tissues, boosting immunity, maintaining fluid & electrolyte balance, & transport of hormones. Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. Out of these 20 amino acids, 9 are essential which means they are not synthesized in the body and must be supplemented through diet.
Our animal sources contain all these essential amino acids and hence they are considered complete proteins. Plant-based sources on the other hand lack one or more essential amino acids and hence they are called incomplete proteins. But this doesn’t mean that vegans change their beliefs and start hunting animals. Vegans can get essential amino acids by combining 2 or more plant sources to make them complete proteins. For more details, please read- https://nutrizest.in/how-much-protein-do-we-need-on-a-daily-basis/
Myth no 3: You need proteins only if you are a bodybuilder
Proteins are one of the essential macro nutrients. They are needed to carry out important bodily functions mentioned in myth number 2. Hence, bodybuilder or not, children or an adult, male or female, we all need proteins. But the amount required differs for everyone. Adults must consume at least 0.5 to 0.8 gm of proteins per kg body weight per day. For example, if you are a sedentary person weighing 50 kg, then you need around 25 g of proteins per day.
The daily requirements increase for pregnant females, children, elderly & bodybuilders. Pregnant ladies should consume an additional 0.5 g of protein during the first trimester, 7 g during the second trimester and 23 g during the third trimester. (Dietary Guidelines for Indians, NIN)
People who are into aerobic exercises should consume 1.4 gram protein per kg body weight whereas those into strength training should eat 2 gram proteins per kg body weight.
Myth no 4: Cut down proteins for weight loss
Ask the people who have been circulating this rumor, if they have weakness, swollen legs, sleeplessness, and weakened immunity. Chances are they will reply with a ‘YES’. And if you want to further validate it, ask them to check their muscle mass, it would be in the lower range. Just because the weighing scale shows a drop in weight doesn’t mean it’s fat loss. People who do not consume adequate proteins, usually end up losing muscle mass rather than fat.
On the contrary, if you consume an optimal amount of proteins, the chances of your fat loss increase. Hence, many times, when starting a weight loss diet, people look lean but the mean weighing scale doesn’t show any change. This is an indicator of fat loss. Muscle weighs the same as fat but since it’s more compact, you start looking leaner. Hence, while on a weight loss diet, never reduce your protein intake, consume them moderately.
Myth no 5: Everyone should take a protein supplement
If you are a sedentary person, then you should at all costs refrain from following this advice. If you are getting 0.5 gram protein per kg body weight per day then you need not include a protein supplement. Always, try to derive nutrients from natural food sources rather than artificial ones. And if you absolutely must include, then consult a Registered Dietitian or Doctor for the same. Remember, moderation is the key to a healthy body.
So folks, these were some common protein myths floating around which you shouldn’t believe. In addition to these, if you have any other misconceptions about proteins, then drop a comment in the below section & we shall let you know if it’s a myth or a fact!