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Common questions and misconceptions about protein supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?

Protein supplementation often refers to increasing the intake of this particular macronutrient through dietary supplements in the form of powders, ready-to-drink shakes, and bars. The primary purpose of protein supplementation is to augment dietary protein intake, aiding individuals in meeting their protein requirements, especially when it may be challenging to do so through regular food (i.e. chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc.) sources alone. A large body of evidence shows that protein has an important role in exercising and sedentary individuals. A PubMed search of "protein and exercise performance" reveals thousands of publications. Despite the considerable volume of evidence, it is somewhat surprising that several persistent questions and misconceptions about protein exist. The following are addressed: 1) Is protein harmful to your kidneys? 2) Does consuming "excess" protein increase fat mass? 3) Can dietary protein have a harmful effect on bone health? 4) Can vegans and vegetarians consume enough protein to support training adaptations? 5) Is cheese or peanut butter a good protein source? 6) Does consuming meat (i.e., animal protein) cause unfavorable health outcomes? 7) Do you need protein if you are not physically active? 8) Do you need to consume protein ≤ 1 hour following resistance training sessions to create an anabolic environment in skeletal muscle? 9) Do endurance athletes need additional protein? 10) Does one need protein supplements to meet the daily requirements of exercise-trained individuals? 11) Is there a limit to how much protein one can consume in a single meal? To address these questions, we have conducted a thorough scientific assessment of the literature concerning protein supplementation.

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