Here we go again. I could not help myself after being made aware of this article by our favorite case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as in TC Luoma of T-Nation.
Yeah, Luoma do shine on occasion with some good stuff, mostly in the humor department. Unfortunately, he’s a corporate shill and either get most things wrong, because he’s totally ignorant of human physiology, or he simply bends the truth to his agenda. Or perhaps a bit of both. Yes, most likely.
As for the humor bit, that is how he started off his article about ‘protein mistakes,’ by saying, “I’ll go out on an IQ limb here and assume that most of you who’ve been reading my articles for years might think I’m at least a little bit smart. Well, the truth is I’ve been very stupid, at least in one area. And I’m hoping it’s not generally reflective of my overall smarts.”
Well, considering your articles we’ve read, your “overall smarts” does not seem that impressive to begin with, so let’s see where he takes us with this opening. He continues with, “I’ve effed-up on protein, you see, for a long time. As conscientious as I am about almost every other aspect of diet, I’ve failed to follow a couple of simple protein rules regarding dosage and timing, rules that I’ve preached others to follow multiple times. As a result, I’ve left a lot of potential gains on the table. Or, more aptly, left a lot of protein shake at the bottom of the blender.”
So, what are these mistakes, and how does he describe them?
1. Not Consistently Hitting Protein Numbers
With this, he means that it does not matter how often or hard you work out in the gym, unless you get the protein you need on a daily basis, you will not see any gains. And that is true. You need adequate protein for repair and tissue generation. He then proceeds to tell us blatantly what a corporate shill he is with, “And that’s what I’ve been guilty of, time and time again. This is particularly egregious on my part because, as a contributor to T Nation, I get free Metabolic Drive. All I want. I could take a bath in it, battery-powered rubber duckies leaving behind a vanilla wake as they propelled across a glistening protein pond.”
Rubber duckies, huh? Although funny, this is what it is all about, and I’ve been there in the past when I was trapped between pseudo-science from the ‘school literature’ and ‘nutrition courses,’ and the pseudo-science of the supplement industry, the pseudo-science of the pharmaceutical industry, and the flawed understanding of physiology. I also used to rely on supplements in the past, although the base of all my diet regimes were plenty of meat, and thank God for that, or I would have hurt my clients without even realizing it. Unfortunately, that is what is happening with most people having coaches or following the garbage put out in magazines or on the internet by self-proclaimed experts.
How you look on the outside has absolutely nothing to do with what is actually going on within you, as in your health and longevity.
Then Luoma continues, “There are days when I may only have a couple of eggs for breakfast, skip my mid-afternoon shake, or even eat the occasional vegetarian dinner that falls woefully short of protein. This is especially bad because I know full well what the requirements are, or science’s best guess as to what the requirements are.”
Well, if you have a ‘shake’ as a meal in the afternoon and then a ‘vegetarian dinner,’ you admittedly know absolutely nothing about human nutrition. All plant-based foods are void of bioavailable nutrition and are inherently toxic to the human species. And a shake is simply ultra-processed macronutrients void of micronutrients (or with added fake micronutrients that are extremely toxic.)
If you are ‘smart’ and care about your own health, you would not poison yourself on purpose. That is the action of either someone who is completely clueless of nutrition and just follow the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ of the dumbed down masses, or the action of someone who really hates himself.
With that said, Luoma continues with citing some studies and reaches the conclusion that we need at least 1.62 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That is equivalent to roughly 0,74 grams per pound of bodyweight, or 162 grams of protein for a guy weighing 100 kg, or 220 lbs. Well, that’s nothing, especially if you follow our species-appropriate, species-specific diet of animal foods. For the average sized 80 kg, or 176 lbs. lifter, that would be a measly 130 grams of protein a day, or 500 grams (17.7 ounces) of steak – or 250 grams of steak and 9 eggs. While not encouraged, most people could do that in one single meal.
With that said, I would say that we need closer to 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, as in 1 gram per pound, if we really want to build muscle mass over the long run.
And that brings us to Luoma’s second protein mistake…
2. An Unbalanced Protein Intake
With this, he means that the intake of protein isn’t evenly spread out throughout the day, or as he puts it, “Often, in a pathetic attempt to hit my protein intake numbers, I’d disproportionately load up on protein during a single meal. For example, I might drink a Metabolic Drive shake in the morning with 60 or 80 grams of protein in it with the idea of loading up so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting “enough” protein at lunch or my midday snack/shake.”
So, now he replaced his perfect morning meal of eggs with a shitty protein shake full of chemicals? Well, I might have done that too on occasion in the past, before I understood the difference between real food that is full of healthy nutrition in perfect synergy and that of a dead protein supplement that only has protein, some minerals, and a lot of toxic chemicals. Yes, you need protein, but you also need all the other good stuff that is in real food, as in micronutrients and fats.
Luoma then quotes a Japanese study where they found that, “when protein intake is “asymmetrical,” i.e., we take in more protein at breakfast (or dinner) than during other meals, we experience less muscle protein synthesis than those who had roughly proportional amounts of protein for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even if the total protein intake was equal.”
Well, muscle protein synthesis comes down to activation of mTOR through oversaturation of amino acids (from protein) in the bloodstream. If the meal does not have enough protein, especially the amino acid leucine, the effect on protein synthesis is small and very short lived. However, if the meal is very large, as in a lot of protein, the effect is maxed out, but the clearance of these amino acids takes a long time, and if you eat again shortly afterwards, there will be no effect at all on protein synthesis since the levels are still high. The levels of amino acids in the blood need to be “reset,” as in reaching a fasted state, before mTOR can be activated again through ingesting protein. So, what the “researchers” actually concluded is that if your goal is maximum muscle growth, as in as many peaks of muscle protein synthesis in a day as possible, you need to hit a target that maxes out protein synthesis, but not more than that, so you can repeat the same target again 3 to 4 hours later, and so on throughout the day for ‘maximum anabolism.’ And yes, I wrote about this in the past with protein pulse protocols, like around 2005 to 2008, and in my book “The Anabolic Pulse Protocol” from 2015 which was based on that research and my field studies between 2007 and 2013.
While this might help you gain some extra pounds of muscle mass down the line, be aware that every time you activate muscle protein synthesis you are ageing. If you eat correctly (animal-based,) avoid other stressors, and do some prolonged fasting to activate autophagy to clear out damaged cells from this abuse, you might get away with it for some time. However, if you like most people simply pursue muscle growth without any afterthought, eating crap and trying to max out muscle protein synthesis all throughout the day, that approach will age you really fast and reduce your life span significantly.
As I said many times, short and infrequent workouts (about three 30 to 40 minutes sessions a week,) a low volume approach that is enough for you to maintain a solid muscular foundation, an athletic physique, can be healthy — but doing more, as in professional sports or looking like a bodybuilder, will age you rapidly and take years or decades off your life. There’s no way around it. You choose what you think is most important and you live with that decision.
As Luoma is about to close his article, he once again pushes the toxic crap like a little shill-puppet by saying, “Of all people, I should have known better. In truth, I did know better, but I was too damn lazy when it came to doing what needed to be done. But henceforth, I promise to honor protein and keep my Metabolic Drive intake optimal all the year. I will not hypocritically shut out the lessons that I’ve long espoused.”
How about throwing that garbage in the bin where it belongs and actually have some steak and eggs instead? Eat real food! There is no substitute.
And as for those wanting to maximize their muscle building efforts, simply do four meals a day and divide your daily protein intake between the meals. That will be more than enough to build muscle. However, if you do this, or even have the occasional protein shake around your workouts, make sure to schedule at least two extended fasts a year of 5 to 7 days to heal and rejuvenate your body. Also, make sure not to eat later than 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed, so your digestive system can rest and you might get some autophagy and detox done during the sleep to help with keeping you healthy.