Protein myths

Consumption of proteins involves a lot of misconceptions, often duplicated by tabloids, repeated by sports enthusiasts and those who slim down, but also by some trainers and nutritionists. So let's analyse facts and myths related to protein products consumption.

Myth # 1: Protein is the most important component of an athlete's diet.

Rankings according to which one nutrient is less important and the other is more lead to many misunderstandings. The truth is that protein is often overrated by active people and consumed in large quantities. Protein is an essential component of a diet, but you can not say that it is more important than other nutrients, such as for instance water, essential fatty acids or vitamins.

Myth # 2: High protein diet damages your kidneys.

It is true that high protein intake actually charges kidneys with additional work, however, there is no evidence that this leads to any damage. At the same time it should be noted that a high-protein diet is considered to provide more of this nutrient than established by nutritional standards, or more than 1 g per kg of body weight. We're not talking about doses exceeding 3 g per kg of body weight, since there is no scientific data on the impact of such amount of protein on renal function, and it is impossible it may be definitely unfavorable.

Myth # 3: Vegetable protein is worthless and it should not be included in the diet.

In fact, protein contained in plant foods is often of poorer quality than those contained in animal products. However, this problem concerns mainly vegans who have defective proteins so they need to combine available protein to obtain complement. In case of persons who are on the so-called mixed diet vegetable products usually are eaten with products of animal origin which additionally increases their value. For example, consumption of dairy products together with cereals allows to obtain a protein of higher biological value than eating dairy products on their own.

Myth # 4: Protein should not be combined with carbohydrates.

There are some alternative nutritional models assuming that eating certain foods together causes a variety of health problems. Meanwhile, there are indications that it is better to combine protein and carbs in a meal: first, it reduces the glucose response compared to glycemia resulting from an intake of carbohydrates on their own, and second, this is an advantageous option from the the post-workout regeneration point of view.

Myth # 5: Heating and cooking lowers protein quality.

In fact, consumption of proteins subjected to appropriate heat treatment improves their digestibility and also causes inactivation of components which reduce the nutritional value of the protein. An example is trypsin inhibitor which can be found in a raw egg white. It inhibits activity of  protein digesting enzymes. In boiled egg, though, it is not present, it is inactivated by heat.