The Absence of Logic: Possible VS Likely
By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS
Director, Staley Training Systems
A few weeks ago I was having dinner at our local Outback, when I overheard the following in the booth behind me:
"My trainer says that if you eat too much protein, it`ll turn to fat."
Did you catch that? And if someone posed that suggestion to you, how would you respond? This is a great exercise in logic, so let`s look at it for a second:
First, is it possible to get fat by eating too much protein?
Sure, in much the same way it`s possible to die by getting hit by lightning while you`re being eaten alive by a shark.
Second, is it likely that you`ll get too fat from eating too much protein? Well again, it`s about as likely as getting hit by lightning while you`re being eaten alive by a shark.
To be slightly more serious, let`s do a bit of thermodynamic mathematics:
If your caloric needs are say, 2500 calories per day, and you eat a high-protein diet consisting of 7500 calories per day, you`ll definitely get fat- that`s my educated guess. However, let`s examine the improbable mechanics of eating this much protein for a moment. If we say that your 7500-calorie diet is 80 percent protein, this means that you`re getting 6000 calories from protein per day, which equates to 1500 grams of protein. Further, if a 6-ounce chicken breast contains 40 grams of protein, you`ll need to eat 37 chicken breasts a day to hit that number. Or to use another food source, you`d need to consume about 37 protein shakes per day (assuming each shake contained 40 grams of protein)
OK that`s obviously absurd so let`s modify the original example to a somewhat more likely scenario:
Using strict thermodynamics, you`d have to consume about 3600 calories per week (or about 500 per day) above and beyond your normal caloric requirements, to gain a pound of excess bodyfat in that same period of time. So if your caloric requirements are 2500 per day, we`re now assuming you`re eating 3000 calories per day, where 80 per cent of those calories come from protein. Now you`re eating 600 grams of protein per day, or 15 chicken breasts or shakes per day.
Unlikely? Well OK, not as unlikely as getting hit by lightning while you`re being eaten alive by a shark, but have you ever eaten 15 chicken breasts in one day (or the equivalent of it)? I never have, not even once.
Now I have eaten the same caloric equivalent in fats and/or carbs - in fact many times. And I bet you have too. In fact, 3000 calories in non-protein form is amazingly easy to consume. Here are a few possible options you might consider:
o 2 & ½ pints of Haagen Daz ice cream (this would be my first choice!)
o A 14-inch All Natural Pepperoni Pan Pizza
o (6) Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappuccino`s with whole milk
Or you could mix & match. For example:
o (1) Pint of Haagen Daz, (2) slices of pizza, and (2) Starbucks
In any event, it should be clear that it`s FAR more likely to get fat eating fats and/or carbs than it is to get from eating too much protein. So with that in mind, what`s the rationale for statements like the one I overheard at Outback? What motivates people to say things like this, given how preposterously unlikely they are? Is it simple ignorance? Or perhaps many people have some type of PETA-inspired hatred of protein?