At some point we have all heard that “protein is good for you.”  I know I have heard so many varying “truths” on protein intake over the years that my head started spinning with all the information coming in.  It is true that we do need protein to have a healthy diet and body. However, there are some myths about protein that can confuse you and lead you down the wrong path. Since our bodies are all different there are no hard and fast rules about protein that work for everyone. Not everything you hear about protein is true.

Protein is an essential nutrient for your entire body. Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning the body needs relatively large amounts of it. (Vitamins and minerals, on the other hand, are called “micronutrients” and are needed in much smaller quantities.) Unlike carbohydrates and fat the body does not store protein, so we need to make sure we refuel our bodies with protein sources daily.

Read below to clear up a few of these protein myths:

  1. Myth 1: Protein magically builds muscle. One common myth revolves around eating protein such as peanut butter, meat, or other foods and magically getting big or strong muscles.
  • Unfortunately, simply eating protein isn’t going to make you bulk up overnight. If you don’t exercise, the protein you eat won’t turn into muscle. You have to exercise regularly in addition to eating protein to see results.
  1. Myth 2: All protein is the same. Protein gets broken down into amino acids in your body. Does it really matter if it’s coming from a candy bar with nuts or a protein shake?
  • The truth is that the source of the protein does matter.
  • For example, animal and plant sources of protein aren’t identical. The main difference is that some plant sources don’t have all the essential amino acids your body requires. In addition, it’s harder for your body to extract some of the protein from plant sources. On the flipside, many animal sources of protein add saturated fat and cholesterol to our bodies, which can build up and cause health issues over time.
  1. Myth 3: You can’t overeat protein. This myth focuses on falsely believing that you can eat as much protein as you want without any consequences.
  • You hear many warnings about eating too many carbohydrates and fats. However, how often do you hear warnings about eating too much protein? On the contrary, many believe you can’t overindulge in protein. This is simply not true, and there are consequences to eating too much protein.
  • Some of the common issues surrounding too much protein consumption include weight gain. Extra protein can turn into fat that is stored in the body. In addition, overeating protein can cause kidney damage and bad breath.
  1. Myth 4: You must eat protein after every workout. You may be tempted to eat protein after workouts because of this myth. The idea behind the myth is that you need protein to rebuild the muscles you’re using.
  • The protein can refuel your body after a long day at the gym. However, if you forget to eat it or simply don’t want to eat it, then it’s not an issue.
  • Research shows that having a large amount of protein right after a workout doesn’t offer any long-term benefits. As long as you’re getting enough protein from your meals and other snacks during the day, you don’t have to rush to eat more protein right after running for a mile.
  1. Myth 5: Protein will help you lose weight. Protein can be part of a weight loss plan, but eating it alone won’t be enough to lose weight.
  • For example, if you dramatically increase the amount of protein you eat, but don’t exercise or change other habits, then you may not lose any weight.
  • Protein isn’t a magic pill that will melt pounds away the minute you increase your protein consumption. It’s still important to control your calories, work out, and eat healthier.

Protein is a crucial macronutrient, but it’s important to educate yourself to avoid falling for these myths. For best results, your main objective should be to maintain a healthy, balanced diet with many types of nutrients and exercise to stay fit. This will lead to a more well-rounded healthier life.