If you use them correctly, protein supplements can make one heck of a difference in regards to your physique. Not only is protein an essential macronutrient for muscle growth and repair, but protein is basically derived from building blocks that make up our entire bodies. If you wish to become leaner, more muscular, fitter, stronger, and healthier, getting enough protein each day is absolutely vital. Protein rich foods, and protein supplements as mentioned, can really provide countless benefits for health and fitness enthusiasts of all abilities. The main issues that people seem to have with protein however, are that they do not know how to utilize protein effectively, and as a result, not only are they not making the expected gains in the gym, but they are actually noticing significant reductions in lean body mass. If you regularly use protein supplements, and follow a protein-rich diet for health and fitness purposes, here are some common protein mistakes that could potentially be damaging your gains.
Failing to consume protein with each meal
Whether you’re eating breakfast, or simply grabbing a late afternoon snack, one thing you should always be doing, is making sure that each meal or snack you consume, contains some form of clean protein. A lot of people make the mistake of having, say, a high carb breakfast such as oatmeal with toast, and then trying to catch up with protein intakes later on. In an attempt to catch up, they may consume one extra protein shake per day, or consume extra chicken breasts with each meal, which is pointless. You see, protein helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, so if you skip protein meals, your blood sugar levels could become unstable, and you may notice a distinct drop in your energy levels. What’s more, as protein is thermogenic and is slow to digest, it enhances satiety so keeps you feeling full for longer. Whilst missing a protein source here and there will generally not hinder your existing muscle mass, it will affect your energy levels and could leave you feeling hungry and tired, which is not ideal for somebody looking to kill their workouts in the gym.
Trying to consume too much protein per sitting
Some would-be bodybuilders when starting out, will make the mistake of trying to consume far, far too much protein with every meal and snack they consume. They will sit down and eat 3 large chicken breasts with 5 egg whites for breakfast, along with a protein shake. For dinner they may chow down on a juicy 30 oz T-bone, which again, though delicious, is not practical. The body can only process around 25 – 35g of protein at a time, so if you’re taking in 60g at a time, 25 – 35g is being wasted as the body cannot utilize it. A bodybuilder consuming 1 chicken breast at a time, along with an 8oz steak, is likely going to have much better results than somebody eating three times that amount. Their bank account will also be much healthier as meat and fish are not cheap.
Stressing over ‘complete proteins’
Protein is made up of numerous amino acids, and different protein sources contain different amino acids. The human body can even synthesize some amino acids itself, and these amino acids are known as non-essential. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, so they must be obtained from dietary sources. Complete proteins are protein sources that provide you with all essential amino acids that the body cannot produce. Whilst essential proteins are very important, you certainly do not need to stress over making sure every single protein source you consume contains all essential amino acids required by the human body. Getting essential amino acids each day is important, but each meal does not need to contain them. If you are worried you aren’t getting enough there are plenty of amino acid supplements you can utilize.
Failing to combine post-workout protein with a carb source
When we finish training in the gym, to help initiate the recovery phase to help our bodies repair our muscles, we need to consume a fast absorbing protein such as whey. A lot of people when consuming whey protein after training however, fail to combine it with a simple carbohydrate source. Carbohydrates help spike insulin levels, which in turn helps to shuttle all of the sugars, proteins, amino acids, and nutrients out of your bloodstream and into your awaiting muscle cells much quicker than average. A lot of people simply add a scoop of dextrose to their post-workout protein shake, whilst others will eat a small handful of candy, or an orange.
Eating the same proteins every day
We all have our favourite types of food, and we will all probably have our favourite types of protein as well. For many bodybuilders, chicken breast is the protein of choice as it is lean, it is fairly affordable, it is easy to prepare, and it can be used in a variety of different dishes. If you make chicken breast your protein source of choice for every single meal however, eventually the body will get used to it and will start responding less favourably to it. What’s more, different protein sources have different amino acids, different vitamins, and different minerals, so if you have the same foods every single time, you will be missing out. What’s more, your diet will become bland and boring as well, and if you aren’t enjoying what you’re eating, the entire process becomes more of a chore, which is the exact opposite of what it should be.