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Arnie’s Protein Revelation: “Don’t Believe the Hype, Quality Isn’t Everything!

Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the age of 76, continues to prioritize nutrition and dieting. In the latest edition of Arnold’s Pump Club Newsletter, Schwarzenegger discussed the importance of protein intake and whether the quality of protein sources matters. Given his star power and name recognition, fans pay attention when Schwarzenegger talks about his nutritional choices. Having dominated the most prestigious stages in bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger is well aware of the protein demands of a top-tier bodybuilder. As a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, he achieved this reign with his impressive physique. However, Schwarzenegger admits that his diet has drastically changed since retirement. In 2022, he credited an 80% plant-based diet that he has followed for the past five years. This change was prompted by cholesterol issues, which led him to adopt a “green diet.” While Schwarzenegger acknowledges that animal-based protein sources have a richer amino acid profile, he believes that the diet he follows has improved his life. Hoping to make fitness more mainstream, Schwarzenegger has used his newsletter to inform the masses about diet hacks. He recently highlighted the differences between consuming protein for quality versus quantity.

According to Schwarzenegger, if you consume enough protein, the quality becomes less important. He explains that the debate about protein superiority usually focuses on factors such as speed of digestion, rate of absorption, amino acid content, or being “clean.” However, new research suggests that if you consume enough protein, the quality is not as crucial as previously believed. Many people believe that for muscle growth, fast-absorbing protein with high digestibility is necessary. But there hasn’t been much research asking a more practical question: if you eat more protein, can you worry less about the quality? Schwarzenegger points out that for those who want to consume less protein, choosing quality options is preferred due to their absorption qualities. A new study, which reviewed existing protein research, found that the quantity of protein you consume determines the need for quality. In other words, if you want to eat less protein, it’s best to focus on more premium protein. However, if you prefer a higher protein diet, it’s okay if you’re not always consuming the highest absorbing options. This is because protein consists of amino acids, which are the building blocks of cells and muscles. Essential amino acids are necessary because the body cannot produce them. Low-quality proteins have fewer essential amino acids or may be missing some completely. That’s why certain proteins are considered “better” than others. Schwarzenegger shares that if a person consumes excessive protein daily, the body will compensate for amino acid deficiencies. This is good news for bodybuilders who must consume large amounts of protein to maintain their muscle mass. He emphasizes that even if you consume protein of lower quality, as long as you eat enough (a minimum of 1.6g/kg per day, according to research), the quantity compensates for the lower quality. The body fills the amino acid gaps, assuming a variety of protein sources are consumed, and receives what it needs to build muscle, aid in recovery, and support overall health. However, there are other considerations when choosing protein. Calories still matter, so if selecting a “lower quality” protein source means consuming unnecessary calories, it could impact results. But the protein itself, as long as enough is consumed, will not hinder progress. Schwarzenegger provides a simple example for those who want guidelines or to count their macros. For instance, if you weigh 175 pounds, consuming only high-quality options (such as whey, beef, egg, soy, or milk) with high digestibility, 80 grams of protein per day could yield results. However, if you consume roughly 175 grams of protein daily, you can include lower-quality forms of protein such as peanuts, wheat, or beans.

Aside from his nutrition, Schwarzenegger remains dedicated to training and is eager to help others discover fitness. In a recent collaboration with fellow FUBAR actors Bert Kreischer and Fortune Feimster, Schwarzenegger showcased his commitment to pumping iron and offered tips on maximizing contractions during each movement. Schwarzenegger firmly believes that adequate protein consumption is crucial for a happy, healthy, and fit lifestyle. Regardless of the quality of protein, it will not hold you back.

Published on August 3, 2023, at 5:43 PM EDT.

Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn
Stan Quinn, the founder of "The Body Builder" and formerly Body Guider, isn't just a business owner – he embodies the spirit of holistic fitness. With a degree in sports nutrition, Stan blends academic knowledge with practical expertise, ensuring that his gym members receive not just physical training but also nutritional guidance tailored to their unique needs. Over the years, Stan's passion for fitness has extended beyond the gym's walls. As a fervent sports enthusiast, he understands the intricacies of athletic performance and is dedicated to helping both amateur athletes and fitness novices achieve their goals. Under his leadership, "The Body Builder" has grown from a mere gym to a comprehensive fitness hub where every member feels empowered, educated, and inspired. Stan's commitment to excellence, combined with his in-depth understanding of sports nutrition, makes him a revered figure in the fitness community.

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