If you want to get as big as you possibly can, you need to focus on eating good, quality protein and build each of your meals around taking in enough protein to support growth. But not just ANY protein will do the job, and some may actually work against you in building new muscle.
Here are four unhealthy proteins that you should avoid if you want to get bigger.
For many years, most cheaper brands of protein supplements were made up of all or mostly soy, and for good reason. Soy is considered a complete protein, because it contains all eight essential amino acids.
That means you can, at least theoretically, fulfill ALL of your protein needs eating nothing but soy. Unfortunately, the theory falls on its face when you take into account the bioavailability, or biological value (BV), of soy. Roughly, BV is a measure of how well your body can utilize a particular nutrient, and soy falls way down on the scale — above wheat but below every type of animal protein.
What’s more, multiple studies have shown a correlation between soy levels and decreased testosterone in men. While there is speculation that lower T could lead to reduced risk of some types of cancers, it’s certain death for muscle growth.
Heavily processed meats like sausage, pepperoni, bacon, lunch meat, and even jerky will also provide you with complete protein, but they come at a cost. That price is a boatload of fat, nitrates, salt, other preservatives, and plenty of artificial flavoring and coloring. These little “goodies” can set you up for all sorts of nasty side effects, from gastrointestinal distress to gout to high blood pressure to heart disease if you eat enough. Unless you’re in a real pinch, steer clear of unhealthy proteins like processed meats.
Similarly, much of what passes for cheese is highly processed vegetable oil pumped up with a bit of milk backing and lots of artificial colors and flavors. American cheese and nacho cheese fall into this category, but so do a wide variety of even worse bastardizations, like cheese spread and cheese sauce. While most of these “food products” will deliver some protein, they will also load you up with unhealthy chemicals and trans fats.
Hydrogenated Peanut Butter
Speaking of trans fats, most of the peanut butter you find in grocery stores owes its solid condition and creamy consistency to the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oils are a form of trans fat used to keep “soft” substances more or less solid at room temperature, and to prevent them from spoiling. Trans fats are also lousy for your health, contributing to heart disease and other maladies. While peanut butter is a fine, healthy source of fat and protein, that’s only true if it’s “natural” and free of trans fats. Natural peanut butter should separate into solid and oily layers that you need to mix up, and it should be refrigerated after opening it. So, when it comes to PB, if there is no mix, you must nix.
These protein sources all share one thing in common: they’re processed out the wazoo. That even goes for soy, which, believe it or not, does not exist as tofu blocks in nature.
As with most food choices, your best bet when picking a protein source is to opt for natural, whole, unprocessed meats, eggs, dairy, and nuts. Stay away from anything that you couldn’t cut off an animal or a plant, and you will be headed in the right direction.