Sunday, July 13, 2008

How Do You Like Your Protein?

Protein-rich animal foods (beef, poultry, pork, seafood, eggs) and plant foods (legumes, tofu, nuts) build and repair muscle tissues, produce hormones, aid the immune system, and help hair and nails grow.

Many athletes think that protein is necessary for bulking muscles and improving athletic performance. Body-building magazines often push excess protein consumption, protein shakes and amino acid supplements. Research does not support the need for this, but it's true that athletes need more protein than sedentary people.

Carbohydrates play a role

Only when the diet provides enough carbohydrates for energy can dietary protein be used to make body tissues and to perform other vital processes. Protein by itself cannot produce enough energy for optimal performance and body-building.

Protein supplements

Athletes may use amino acid supplements, protein powders or pills hoping to gain muscle mass faster. However, research has not shown that taking particular amino acids will make your muscles bigger or stronger. The amount of protein or amino acids in expensive powders and pills is less than the amount you might easily get from food.

Training and proper diet actually show a greater gain in muscle mass and performance than does taking supplements. To gain one pound of muscle, you only need an extra 14 grams of protein per day.

The protein bottom line

Consuming too much protein can lead to problems such as:

  • Dehydration/increased urination: Protein requires more water to break down and digest
  • Diarrhea and upset stomach
  • Calcium loss from bones
  • Possible kidney damage with long-term use

Though the athlete needs more protein than the average person, special protein supplements are not necessary. A well-balanced diet and good training will help you meet your athletic goals.

Read the entire article here.

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Being a vegetarian and trying to be a health nut is sometimes a challenge for me. I am always trying to get enough protein and had not thought of the effects of too much. Great information.

Laura said...

If we don't get enough protein, especially all of the amino acids and B vitamins, it can affect our health.

At the same time, it's interesting to learn eating too much protein affects our health as well. It's all about trying to achieve balance.

I'm glad you liked the article. Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

I boost my daily protein intake with a daily whey protein shake (20g of protein). It's a good way for me to get in a fruit serving too. I'm not too crazy about nuts and bean, and my most favorite source of protein, beef, has too much nasty fat to be consumed in huge amounts.

But I agree, any additional protein intake without the exercise to make use of it is a waste, plus not enough carbs turn you into a lethargic slug unable or unwilling to exercise on top of it.

Laura said...

It's all about striking a balance - which is much easier said than done. I personally get enough protein through what I eat (eggs, nuts, chicken, and beef).

Protein Shakes said...

I normally just have my protein plain with water. I don't care about mixing it with other stuff. I just take it for practical reasons.

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