5 Protein Myths, Debunked

No, you shouldn’t be eating one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

May 04, 2023

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Photo by: Westend61/Getty Images

Westend61/Getty Images

While carbs and fat are often (falsely) accused of being the “unhealthy” macros, protein seems to be an endless source of confusion. How much protein should you be eating? What kinds of protein are best? When’s the best time to eat protein? It’s time to bust some myths and set the record straight on the most common protein myths.

Myth: You Need to Eat 1 Gram of Protein Per Pound of Body Weight

The baseline recommendation for a healthy adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 55 grams for a 150-pound person. Protein needs vary for different populations like growing children, pregnant women and competitive athletes. To support needs for growth and exercise, protein needs may approach 1.2 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (82 to 123 grams for a 150-pound person), but these types of increases should be monitored by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help target the proper amounts and best sources.

Myth: It’s Impossible to Eat Too Much Protein

Myths swirl that excessive protein “can’t be absorbed,” but your physiology doesn’t work that way. In fact, if you weren’t absorbing protein, there would be issues absorbing the other macros as well. That said, consuming amounts of protein far beyond your recommended needs may lead to stomach upset and may also mean you aren’t getting a balanced intake of nutrients found in carbohydrates and fat. Studies continue to investigate the impact of high-protein diets on kidney health so those with kidney disease and risk factors for kidney issues (like type 2 diabetes) should talk with their doctor to best determine protein needs.

Myth: You Should Eat Protein Before a Workout

Foods rich in protein are slow digesting, which is great to combat hunger between meals but it’s not an ideal choice right before exercise as it can lead to stomach upset during training. To meet your protein needs without sabotaging workouts, eat modest amounts of protein-rich food at every meal and snack, except right before exercise.

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Photo by: Lori Andrews/Getty Images

Lori Andrews/Getty Images

Myth: Animal Protein Is Better Than Plant Protein

Animal protein is different, not better. Animal protein sources contain all the essential amino acids bodies require, while plant proteins are missing one or more. Plant proteins are rich in fiber and other nutrients that animal sources lack. Eating a wide variety of both plant and animal sources is an ideal way to optimize your intake.

Myth: You Can’t Meet Your Protein Needs on a Vegan Diet

One of the biggest untruths about protein is that you can’t get enough on a vegan diet. Prioritizing all the essential amino acids is important but a diet plentiful in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products makes getting those essential amino acids very achievable. And just like animal-based foods, eating vegan protein sources throughout the day is helpful for controlling appetite and optimizing for workouts.

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