All The Gear & No Idea – Put Down The Protein!

Popeye-meets-sindbad

At least Popeye trains legs as well.

“Do you, Popeye, take this protein supplement drink, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

“I do,” said Popeye, swiping his credit card at the sales desk of Supplement Warehouse.

Alright, I know that scene is dumb and doesn’t make any sense. Popeye would’ve married spinach.

But you get the picture I’m painting right?

All the health conscious peeps are devouring protein like it’s in short supply and going out of fashion.

Well that’s definitely not the case. And the dietary supplement industry is laughing. And they’re not laughing with you.

In fact, the dietary supplement industry is absolutely booming, up 7% in the US for 2012. The Asia-Pacific market has started to take off recently. Many believe the dietary supplement market will be the fastest growing market between 2012-2017

The Love-Child

Now don’t get me wrong, I love protein too. It helps me feel full, helps to builds and repair muscle, keeps me fit and strong, and happens to come in a wide range of tasty foods I enjoy. 😀 (seriously)

But misinformation and marketing have had a love-child.

They’ve given birth to an obsessive, unhealthy relationship between us the consumers, and nutrition supplements – particularly protein supplements.

Gym Junkie

Now supplements do have their place – if you are an elite athlete with high requirements, or if you’re on the go after training and need something ready-to-eat.

Or if you don’t eat any solid food (which a lot of people are doing these days for weight loss…).

But for 99% of us, eating whole, nutritious foods at main meals and mid-meal snacks (snacks are for people trying to gain muscle) will provide more than adequate amounts of protein that your body can utilise.

In fact, the vast majority of us can’t absorb more than 20g of protein at one time anyway (the exception if you resemble Arnie in his heyday in which case 30g is your limit).

Protein Requirements Table

The table below shows how much protein a resistance athlete needs per day total.

 

Protein Intake (g.kg-1.day-1)

Group

Male

Female

Resistance Athletes* (early state)

1.5 – 1.7

1.3 – 1.5

Resistance Athletes (steady state)

1.0 – 1.2

1.0

* Athletes refers to elite sports men and women, generally training 5 + times per week.

Note that when you just start training, your requirements are up to 50% higher then when you are experienced. So if you and the gym newbie are the same weight and training at a similar intensity, he needs more protein than you (admitting this could compromise your manliness).

Example using the table.

If you are a 75kg male, resistance training 5 times per week for the past 6 months:

  • Your requirements = 1.0-1.2g x 75kg = 75 – 90g/day of protein.
  • You can easily achieve this by having 20g protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner + mid meal snacks.
  • Timing of protein is oh so critical (I won’t go into detail here).
  • If you are not an elite/professional athlete or in the army, you should consider spending some of your spare time away from the gym.
  • Do some f*cking cardio. You need it.
Big Fat Liars

The nutrition supplement industry wants you to believe ‘if some is good, more must be better’. They’re lying to you. Any excess protein we eat is not absorbed well and won’t make you bigger or fitter.

So if you’re having protein shakes + a meal after you train, make sure you savour all those moments with the toilet, because your piss is expensive. (Plus your kidneys hate you!)

Do you really need protein supplements all the time? Try and eat whole foods instead as much as possible. 20g of protein is easy to consume at one meal.

Also I just want to credit Gary Slater and Sports Dietitians Australia for some of the great info and pics I used in this article. Kudos!

Lastly I find this very amusing, who agrees?

gym status

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Comments

  1. Great article as usual! I think tho supplementary protein is a matter of moderation. Personally for me, I find it cheaper to buy 800 g pack which keeps me going for a looong time to eat smth fast and fullfeeling (and yammy) when there’s not time before a workout + in Finland eventually it turns much cheaper since meats, fish and eggs are too expensive: dairy products are not the best one’s. So in some cases, the protein can not only save you up time but also your bank account 🙂

    • Hi Lera!
      Yep thats a good point, I definitely agree. Actually at one stage i had written save your money and have less protein powder, but I deleted that before i published the post. Because actually for people using protein powder correctly it can save you money in the long run, especially in snowy finland where most protein foods have to be shipped up from the south!
      There are still a lot of people that waste money on it because they have it as well as a meal, or they have it at the wrong times.!
      Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂

  2. Great post J! Everyone’s looking for a quick fix these days so thanks for sharing your insight on the protein supplement bandwagon. Supplement stores are huge in Canada so it’s almost like you have to walk in there and see what all the fuss is about. I like protein breakfast shakes but that’s because they’re quick and easy and better than a pastry on the go.

    • Hi Voula!
      Yep its the same in Australia it seems every year there a few new supplement shops opening up, theyre almost like a supermarket that sells no real foods. And I think they definitely have their place but many don’t understand how it works. And a supplement is after all a “supplement” to the diet, not a permanent substitute.
      I like breakfast shakes too as an alternative when im rushing, the most popular brand here just released a yoghurt version that you still sort of “drink” out of the packet, im keen to try!
      Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment 🙂

  3. Haha “we can only consume 20g of protein in a meal”. That’s bollocks mate. Do you really think humans would be here if we could only absorb 20g of protein per meal? Were humans 5000 years ago storing the meat they hunted in fridges were they? Or were they eating it all in one go because otherwise it would become rotten??

    • Hi Harrison
      Thanks for leaving a comment I could talk about this topic for hours!
      Yep we can only absorb 20g at one meal, we can consume as much as we like. The excess is excreted.
      A lot of what humans ate 5000-10000 years ago is still debatable, what we do know is that it varied greatly depending on where they were living and the seasons.
      Meat would actually make up minimal in their diet (unless they lived near the sea), but other forms of food were readily available and all were sources of protein too. Diets such as Paleo fuel the myth that caveman was a carnivorous beast slayer.
      And pre-civilisation man was actually very lean and small in stature needing far less protein than you or me.
      Also the discovery of cooking meat in fire allowed them to store meat for a short time rather than eating a raw carcass asap.