Protein shakes are one of the most widely and commonly used supplement for nutrition among fitness enthusiasts, athletes and anyone living an active lifestyle. But, more the accessibility and availability of a product, more is it prone to face the wrath of myths and misinformation.
This article takes you through the few common myths protein is subjected to as we try to break them down:
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- Protein & Kidneys: This, by far, has to be the most commonly misused, misguided myths that many people fall prey to. It is often projected that taking higher amount of class 1 protein increases the risk of kidney failure. While this statement is not completely untrue, it is important to understand that this is applicable for those who with an already existential kidney ailment, before trying any protein supplement. Several protein based studies have reported that increasing the protein intake moderately does not pose as a threat to kidney in otherwise healthy people and in fact, helps overcome other risk factors like obesity, osteoporosis etc.
- Protein & Bones: Another commonly believed myth is that eating high amount of protein leaches out the calcium from the bones thus making them more prone to fractures. The base for this rumour appears to be the reports from earlier studies that suggested high protein intake leads to higher acidity in the individual’s urine, therefore the calcium from the bones is leached as a buffering agent. However, recent studies conducted using markers have found that the calcium found in urine does not come from bone but the excess which is in intestines.
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- Protein supplement vs. food: It is not new that foods like poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, lean meat etc. should be taken as a part of a balanced diet, especially in those who have an active lifestyle. These are all classified as class 1 proteins and provide complete amino acid profiles that is necessary to ensure proper muscle repair, recovery and growth among fulfilling other functions in the body. However, not everyone is able to consume all or any of these foods for many reasons, which puts them at a risk of being deficient in consuming enough of good quality protein. That is when good quality protein supplements that serve as the best and the easiest ways of protein intake to such individuals. Additionally, while whole sources of protein are good to be taken but too much of consumption can also come with its own possible threat of consuming higher amounts of saturated fats (as part of the meats/ eggs/ etc.) Comparatively, protein supplements are lower in carbs and fats and focus on providing more of proteins thereby making them safe and viable for consumption.
- Protein & Liver failure: Similar to the studies in relation to protein and kidneys, studies conducted earlier hypothesized that a higher protein intake may put a load on the liver by increasing its protein synthesizing task. However, there has been very limited or no scientific backing for this claim to be true. In studies conducted where higher protein intake was recorded, it was noted that though it did cause the structure of the liver cells to change, it did not cause any diseases. Contrarily, in people with liver diseases it was seen that a high protein diet promoted tissue repair and helped breakdown fat to be removed from the liver.
- Protein & metabolic acidosis: There are speculations that a high protein and low carbohydrate diet can in the long run lead to ketosis and ultimately metabolic acidosis. Ketosis is when the body’s stores for carbs are limited and the body uses ketone bodies (from fat breakdown) for fuel purpose. In absence of carbs as glycogen the liver releases more ketones which are used as energy source. However, the chances of metabolic acidosis due to this becomes higher if there are plenty of ketone bodies present in the blood, as a result leading to accumulation of acid resulting in coma. But, the relevance of this mechanism in a healthy individual is not confirmed. And through a study consisting of low carb, high protein diet the results garnered showed, that ketone bodies had reduced in the first 3 months and over a period of time the urinary ketone concentration reduced, ultimately not showing in the urine results.
This shows that a healthy body is able to adapt to change with changes in dietary methods. However, it is to be ensured that to maintain a sustainable lean body mass, high protein diet should occur along with sufficient amount of carbohydrate for appropriate fuelling purpose.
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Last modified: December 13, 2021