Want to build more muscle? Then start taking protein shake!
That’s the advice we’ve been hearing for years and it’s generally agreed within the bodybuilding community that you should be consuming one gram of muscle for each pound of weight. That’s what’s Arnie used to do and we can all agree that he’s managed to get pretty big…
But as any scientist knows, a sample of one is not enough evidence to draw conclusions from. So what does the actual science say? The real science that is that’s not trying to sell products?
Whether or not increasing protein intake is a good move for muscle mass is something we’ll get into later. But is it a good move… in general?
Unfortunately, eating large amounts of protein does have its downside. For instance, if you eat excess amounts of protein this can actually overload the liver which in turn may lead to a buildup of ammonia and other toxic substances in the bloodstream. This could eventually in principal lead to something called ‘hepatic encephalopathy’ which is a condition linked to degraded brain, nervous system and hormone function.
What doesn’t help is that many of our protein sources are also incredibly low quality. These are denatured and very low in bioavailability meaning the body has to really work to get anything from them.
Studies also suggest that diets high in protein may actually decrease testosterone. Though the research is somewhat divided on this, the fact of the matter is that eating extra protein to boost T may be the completely wrong approach.
It’s also possible that consuming large amounts of protein may even shorten your lifespan. A couple of studies have suggested this.
Does this mean you should throw out all your protein shake? Not at all. But what you should take away is the simple lesson that you need to consume everything in moderation. And yes, that even includes your protein!
Another thing to bear in mind is that the ‘optimal’ amount of protein can vary greatly from person to person. Depending on your age, your level of activity and numerous other factors it may in fact be that your optimal level is much lower or much higher than that of someone else who is the very same weight. Coming up with a single number and trying to apply this to everyone is really a nonsense. Levels of anabolic hormones will also make a big difference.
That said though, every bodybuilder in the world over follows the basic rule that they need to consume more protein to build mass and the same goes for the vast majority of athletes from other sports too. These guys aren’t just messing around – they eat protein because they know it works. Many studies have also shown that athletes need more protein than the Average Joe.
So really there’s no straightforward answer. The best solution? Try increasing your own protein intake and see how much that helps you with your gains.
Then there’s the whole question of protein timing….