‘Red meat is bad!’ ‘You need to eat more protein for muscles to grow!’ ‘Protein makes you lean!’
You’ve heard all sorts of clichés about protein – but are they based on fact? We’ll set the record straight by debunking 3 common protein myths:
Myth #1: Protein’s primary purpose is muscle development.
Protein is an essential nutrient made of building blocks known as amino acids. That means protein isn’t just a component of muscle, but of other important parts of the body – including bone, joints, tendons, ligaments, hair, antibodies, hormones, enzymes and LDL and HDL cholesterol.
The nutrient helps the immune system stay healthy, regulates blood glucose, and assists in body composition.
Myth #2: Cutting back on protein is a safe way to lose weight.
This is actually the opposite – insufficient protein can make it more difficult to lose weight, as the nutrient boosts metabolism and helps keep the body full.
Lost weight from axing protein is likely muscle loss, not fat loss. Plus, avoiding protein can lead to other side effects, such as fatigue, weakness, leg swelling (edema) and a suppressed immune system, which can expose the body to more frequent illness. As if losing weight isn’t tough enough!
Myth # 3: Eating too much protein leads to kidney disease.
Eating extra protein is only damaging to the kidneys if the body is already suffering from a kidney or liver disease.
Kidneys excel at expelling the extra nitrogen that comes with eating lots of steak, eggs and beans. Weakened bones isn’t likely either, though some research suggests it is a possibility, seeing as excess protein intake results in peeing more calcium.
To avoid a calcium deficiency, diversify your protein intake between plant and meat, and be mindful of including extra calcium-rich foods or supplements if necessary.
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