Misunderstandings around proteins

Of all the nutrients, protein is regarded in the world of fitness with the greatest reverence. Interestingly, there are countless false theories circulating around proteins which, over the years, have grown to the rank of dogmas. In this article, I would like to draw your attention to confusions and erroneous beliefs connected with proteins which are incredibly strongly rooted in minds of many.

It is difficult to meet demand for protein without supplementation

Protein supplementation is used almost routinely by nearly every person who works out. This is connected with a common conviction that conventional food is difficult to satisfy your demand for proteins - if you do a strength training. In fact, this belief is incorrect. Scientific studies show that protein supply at the level of 1.8 – 2,3 g per one kilogramme of body weight a day is more than adequate even on a day of a very hard workout. The amount of this component can be delivered in a very simple way without aid of any supplements. Assuming that a ninety-kilo athlete needs about 200 g of protein a day, it's easy to count that in order to provide the required amount of that component, he should have:

  • a 5-egg omelette and 100 g oatmeal with almonds (about 30 g) and fruits,
  • two sandwiches made of wholemeal bread (approx. 160 g), chicken breast (approx. 150 g of meat) and vegetables,
  • a bag of buckwheat with a portion of a pork chop (250 g), mozzarella cheese and green beans,
  • tuna salad (120 g) with seasonal vegetables and whole-wheat pasta (80 g).

The above menu, even though it is barely four meals and is not overly rich in meat (400 g of meat, while some bodybuilders eat even three times more), exceeds the fixed limit: it provides 210 g of protein. If you add two protein shakes, it would make daily supply of protein at the level of almost 3 g per kg of weight, and this is too much.

Only animal protein matters

There is a fairly common belief that for a human body, and, above all, for muscle tissue, only animal protein matters. Under this assumption, plant-origin proteins are not included in the daily protein intake. Allegedly, it stemms from their "deficiency". Therefore, this wrongful conviction should be corrected. Well, you should know that in fact vegetable-origin proteins are not worthless, but merely less valuable than animal proteins (and not always). In practice, they also provide essential amino acids, only their proportions are not always ideally suited to our needs. However, your body is not able to distinguish amino acids from meat or eggs from those which are present in pods or nuts; all sorts are used in the process of synthesis.

What is additionally important is the fact that proteins which come from vegetables, even if extremely incomplete, form complete proteins when combined with animal ones. Not only that – sometimes an addition of a vegetable to an animal product makes the final aminogram is better! What's more, even without the addition of animal amino acids, "incomplete" vegetable proteins can be combined with each other in such a way that they make complete aminograms. Therefore, plant proteins need to be included in a daily diet. Negligence in this respect is a serious mistake.

You can only assimilate 30 g of protein meal

Apparently there is an absolute limit of absorption of protein, that is 30 g for a meal. This is quite interesting, especially if you judge it within a practical context and explore what it really means. After all, a "meal" is not a time unit. So, if you have two meals one after another, both containing 30 g of protein, protein should be assimilated in accordance with the above assumptions, even if a break between the meals is only fifteen minutes. However, if you have both dishes together, your body will take only half the supplied portion of protein. What's more, it would become so regardless of whether you are a 130 kilo bodybuilder or three times lighter ballerina.

A theory saying that it can only take 30 g with one meal does not define precisely the term "assimilation". In theory it should relate to the ability to absorb amino acids from the gastrointestinal tract, but in practice it is sometimes presented as a synonym of what is used by muscles in the processes of synthesis, and sometimes it concerns only digestability of food. If want to read more about this questions, scientific research is available here:


It is worth getting acquainted with a study carried out on women who would consume 1,7 g of protein per a kilogramme of lean body mass in one or in four meals.