Don’t Believe the Protein Hype

Just about anyone will tell you that adding protein supplements to your diet will help you quickly build muscle, and just about anyone would be wrong. According to Jane Uzcategui, professor of nutrition at Syracuse University, protein only helps muscles rebuild to the point they were at prior to a workout, but it doesn’t actually increase muscle growth. And seeing that a typical person’s diet already contains about 150% of their daily protein requirements, additional supplements are worthless. Unless you work out daily and need to ensure rapid recovery, excess protein is just “expensive fuel.”

The real secret to putting on muscle fast, says Uzcategui, is to maintain a high-caloric diet based primarily on carbohydrates and unsaturated fats. Since we’re sure you’ve already blown through the groceries mom and dad bought you at the beginning of the year, here are some muscle-building foods to look for on a college budget:

Complex Carbohydrates: Cereal, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables
Complex carbohydrates should be the foundation of your diet. The energy from foods like pasta and cereal is stored in your muscles and saved for later. This is what your body taps into deep into your workout. The more fuel it receives, the longer the machine can operate at full force.

Protein: Chicken, milk, lentils, eggs, tuna, nuts
Since you likely already consume more than enough protein in an average day, start focusing on finding a balance between plant and animal protein sources. Plant-based foods tend to be low in cholesterol and are excellent sources of fiber. However, they often lack several of the essential amino acids, which is what gives meats and dairy their importance.

Healthy Fats: Olive oil, canola oil
When it comes to fat, it’s really a matter of oils versus solids. Oils tend to come from plants, whereas solids like butter or shortening come from animals. Both provide the same number of calories per gram, but solid animal fats contain significantly more trans or saturated fats and can also be high in cholesterol.

By Tom Charles