Copyright 2006 Jonathan Perez
There are all kinds of diet recommendations all over the bodybuilding magazines and websites that advise to divide your eating into different “ratios” and “percentages” for building muscle mass and gaining weight.
Some recommend high fat, low carb, others say moderate carbs, moderate fat, high carbs, low fat, etc. But the one thing that each and every one of these “weight gain” / “muscle building” diets say is it must be HIGH in protein.
Well, I’m here to tell you the TRUTH. It is NOT necessary at all to eat a diet high in protein to gain muscle weight.
Just about everything you read says to eat 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Some even go as high as suggesting you have to not only eat high, but massive amounts of protein to build muscle and gain weight.
This MYTH is due to 3 reasons:
1) Everyone thinks that muscle tissue is made up mostly of protein
2) Everyone thinks that either high amounts of fat or high amounts of carbohydrates will cause you to get fat
3) Everyone thinks that protein has a “thermogenic” (inner-body temperature raising) effect, which helps burn fat
All three of these beliefs are completely wrong! (In this article I am going to give you a very brief explanation, but in later articles I will go into more detail).
First, muscle tissue is NOT made up of mostly of protein. Muscle tissue is 70% WATER.
The other 30% is made of GLUCOSE, and AMINO ACIDS. Your muscles need just as much glucose (which is what carbohydrates are converted into), if not MORE than protein to gain muscle size.
Those that have medically studied the physiology of the human body know that amino acids are what make up protein.
However, the body uses whatever amount of amino acids it needs at that particular moment. The rest it stores for later use.
It is NOT true that you need to be eating a “steady stream” of protein to gain muscle weight………your body keeps a little “pool” of stored amino acids.
Protein is by far the most difficult macronutrient to break down and digest.
The higher the amount of protein you eat the more stress you are placing on your digestive system.
Oh, by the way, what do you think happens to any excess protein??? It turns it into FAT!
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you eat a huge burger or steak?
Even after several hours have passed, it still feels like you’ve got that entire piece of meat just sitting and rotting in your stomach.
How much benefit in gaining muscle weight do you think that’s going to give you?
Have you ever drank those disgusting protein shakes or eaten those chalk-tasting protein bars? You get gas, you feel bloated, and you might even get the “runs” (diarrhea).
That’s a major sign that your body is NOT properly digesting all of that protein!!!
There are several real-life examples of athletes that don’t consume massive amounts of protein to gain muscle weight, yet have tremendous physiques, are in excellent health, are powerful, fast, and agile.
To just name some of them:
Andreas Cahling – Swedish champion bodybuilder and Olympic gold medalist in the ski jump
Keith Holmes – World champion middleweight boxer
Bill Manetti – Powerlifting champion
Stan Price – World weight lifting record holder; bench press
Art Still – Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs MVP defensive ends, Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame
Chris Campbell – Olympic wrestling champion
Peter Hussing – European super heavyweight boxing champion
You can eat all the protein in the world and not gain one pound of muscle weight if you aren’t eating enough calories!!!!!
Remember, it doesn’t matter what we’ve been fed by the magazines and companies trying to sell us their latest protein concoction. It all comes down to the calories!
In my next article I’ll cover the 2nd and 3rd misconception everyone has about protein.