Protein Facts & Myths

A lot of Americans are obsessed with protein. Vegetarians and vegans are always accused of not getting enough protein, thinking that protein is the most valuable part of a human’s diet. Protein powders and supplements are available in most average food stores and mothers are always telling their children to make sure they eat enough meat to get their protein. The amount of protein that we actually need per day, is 0.36 grams of protein for every pound we weigh.

Myth: The more protein you consume, the better.

Fact: 10% to 35% of calories should be from protein each day. If more protein is consumed on a normal basis, it could lead to weight gain. If the source of the protein you are consuming comes from meat and animal products, it could lead to increased levels in saturated fat causing high cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease. It can also cause issues if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

Myth: A high protein diet can aid in weight loss.

Fact: Consuming more protein can make you have a fuller feeling for a longer amount of time. Converting protein into glucose for energy takes twice as much effort than converting carbohydrates and fats into glucose, therefore more calories are burned.

Myth: You can only get protein from animal products, therefore vegetarians/vegans are deficient in protein.

Fact: Most nuts, seeds, grains, beans, soy products, fruits and vegetables contain protein. Some offer a small amount while others offer a larger amount.

Plant-based foods that contain protein.  Top: green collards, okra Bottom: Red lentils, black beans​

Plant-based foods that contain protein.
Top: green collards, okra
Bottom: Red lentils, black beans​

Myth: Vegetarian/vegan athletes need to take protein supplements.

Fact: As stated in the previous fact, vegetarians/vegans have many sources of plant-based proteins. You can get the same amount of protein from plant-based foods that you get from animal meat and byproducts. Protein powders and supplements are not needed to achieve the amount of protein that our body really needs.

Myth: Protein is used only to build muscle.

Fact: Protein has many uses for the body, and makes up a part of every cell. Protein gives us energy and is an important in repairing bones, muscles, blood, cartilage, and skin. It also makes up majority of our hair and nails.

Myth: Consuming extra protein can be stored for later.

Fact: Protein is not stored in our bodies the way carbohydrates and fat is stored so we need a steady supply of protein each day to stay healthy.