Arguing Cause Jessica Dulz

Writer's Memo

•I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting: I found the psychology that goes behind advertising to be very interesting!
•This part was surprisingly difficult: While writing this paper I struggled to include counter arguments that were related to my claim that advertisements were the number one reason behind this issue.
•Next time I would do this differently: Next time I would start this sooner.

I found this topic very interesting, which made it easy to write about. I enjoyed looking at this paper from an athletes stand point because that relates to myself and many of my peers, and by also involving psychology in my paper it connected it another one of my favorite topics. I believe that the information contained in my paper is something that everyone can relate to.

How much protein is really needed for athletes

In today's society it is undeniable that the United States is facing issues surrounding the health of its citizens. This problem has escalated further than just weight management. Many people, and especially athletes, have a twisted view of what creates and sets up a healthy life style. A common belief is that consuming large amounts of protein will promote muscle growth and maintenance in the human body. One of the main contributing factors to this belief is the way that protein is advertised, packaged, and promoted. Advertising is everywhere today, and comes in many different forms. The end goal of all advertisements is an argument, and most often is trying to persuade the viewer to do something differently by using their product. It is only natural for people to want to believe what they see, especially when the end result that this ad is claiming is something that the individual viewing it is seeking. Many protein ads and commercials show very physically fit and attractive people taking protein supplements and claim that they achieved their body through the consumption of this excess protein in their diets. Most people then get the conclusion in their head that they can look like that if they also consume either that specific protein supplement or any extra protein enriched bars or drinks. However, this is not true. (think about making that last clause into a sentence of its own — I think it would read stronger)

While strictly looking at the protein consumption of athletes the journal of sport science has found that most athletes consume enough protein based on their normal diet without having to add any extra supplemental protein to their diet (Wolfe, Tipton 65). The goal of many athletes is to increase the size of their skeletal muscle through high protein intake; however there is still little evidence that supports this claim that high protein diets will provide this result (Wolfe, Tipton 66). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some sources of protein that can be found in the average lifestyle consist of meat, poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds, milk products, and grains. There are three different types of proteins that the human body needs to thrive. These proteins are complete, incomplete, and complimentary. Complete proteins come from animal based food sources, and are considered high quality proteins because they provide all the essential amino acids needed (CDC). There are also incomplete proteins, which are missing at least one of the essential amino acids. The third type of protein is complimentary, which is the result of two or more incomplete protein combining together to provide the necessary amount of essential amino acids (CDC). The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight a day (Quinn). This differs from strength athletes who need about 1.4 grams, and endurance athletes who need about 1.2 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight each day (Quinn).

Although it may be argued that there is no such thing as too much protein in an athlete’s diet that has been proven wrong. The higher the amount of protein that someone consumes in their diet, the harder they are forcing their kidneys to work to remove the nitrogen, which is a product of the metabolization process of protein (Caffery, Lee). Another problem that can result from increased protein intake in athletes is dehydration. Athletes are already active enough and suffer from this problem without the addition stress that protein can add to this issue. When protein is broken down urea is formed and the body must excrete water to dispose of this product (Caffery, Lee). Athletes have already been predisposed to osteoporosis and arthritis in joints because of the pressure that sports put on bones and joints, and now it has been found that protein can increase these risks. Purified protein can take calcium away from the bones making an athlete’s risk for osteoporosis much higher (Caffery, Lee). If an athlete chooses to disregard these risk factors they must also understand that there is a maximum amount of protein that will be used by the body and the excess will simply be stored as fat. This is due to the large amount of calories that are already contained in protein, and any calories that are not burned are stored as fat (Caffery, Lee).

The main problem with the way that society views the process of building a lean and tone body is that they can achieve this goal simply through dietary supplements, which is not true. In order to build muscle someone must participate in physical activity. There are vast options to choose from to be physically active such as; walking, distance running, tennis, basketball, weight lifting, sprinting, swimming, and much more. The main difference between the types of exercise and sports is whether it is strengthening or endurance. It has been found that endurance athletes benefit more from increased protein than strength athletes because they can use protein as a source of 5% - 10% of their total energy used during exercise (Caffery). If the athlete chooses a strength sport or activity it has been found that the amount of protein consumed is not as important as the amount of carbohydrates, such as pasta and breads, that the athlete intakes and glycogen stores (Quinn). The reason that protein is not as necessary as carbohydrates are is because protein and fat have not been found to be able to oxidize quickly enough to be used to supply the body with the energy needed during exercise (Quinn). The carbohydrates are used to restore glycogen levels that are being used during the intense workout and fuel the body (Quinn). A study found that in two groups of young men where one group consumed 3.3 grams of protein as opposed to the recommended 1.3 grams that there was little to no difference in increased muscle mass between the groups (Caffery, Lee). It is also important to point out that whether an athlete participates in endurance or strength training there still exists a maximum point where the protein is no longer beneficial (Caffery, Lee).


  • think about being more specific about the study— where was it conducted or by whom or for what — just something more descriptive than 'a study
  • comma before 'as opposed to'
  • awkward phrase with the 'that' — think about deleting the 'that' and inserting a comma there
  • (Caffery) (I think we talked about that — just the last name of the author goes in the parenthesis)

While viewing any type of advertisement the goal is to evoke some type of emotion or connection with each viewer, and this can vary between each person. The whole point of the advertisement is to attract the potential customer to the product that they are trying to sell. According to Inside the Consumer Mind an article done by Dr. Peter Murray in Psychology Today neuro-imagery provides supportive research that consumers tend to use emotion or personal feelings and experiences to make choices about the products that they buy as opposed to information or facts. This is used to explain why consumers often buy brand name products over generic brands (Murray). These findings can then be related to the impact of protein supplement advertising. When consumers see fit and tone bodies of the actors or model in the ad, it creates the feeling of envy and jealousy. This is why many people believe that the ads that they see and buy (maybe use "purchase" here — "buy" is vague in this context because could refer to buying the message of the ad) the protein supplement even though it is not necessary for them to consume that much additional protein. Murray states that “a brand is nothing more than a mental representation of a product in the consumer’s mind." If someone were to reflect back on the protein supplement advertisement that they saw they would most likely only remember the athletic body of the person in the ad rather than facts and features of beneficial ingredients that are included in the product. This also supports the claim that the emotional connection made through the ad is more important than facts.

Although advertising is, in my opinion, the main source of this distorted view of protein there are other sources that provide athletes with these false ideas. For example many college or professional athletes are provided athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches. Athletes will go to these people in hopes for improving skills that are related to their specific sports. The false idea that a large amount of protein is necessary is also present in those who are educated in sports and fitness. Many trainers, and coaches do not know the truth behind the effects of protein on the body and what amounts really are necessary. However this is not the main cause of the problem because there are more athletes and those individuals who are simply trying to stay fit that do not have trainers and coaches available to them. Thus, this is not the main cause of the problem. Others may say that stores such as GNC or Herbalife may promote the overconsumption protein. This can be one of the reasons that people are getting too much protein in their diet, but these stores can be linked to the issue of advertising on the bottles and canisters or posters created by protein companies. Stores like these do create some discussion and influence the opinions of those that shop at these stores, because those employed by these businesses are often trusted to have knowledge about nutrition. However, there are not many people that shop at these stores, and these stores still place a large emphasis on advertising since the goal is to sell the product. (think about: these salespeople are just that, salespeople. What they say is a form of advertising)

In conclusion, advertisement is the main issue surrounding (cause of) the misconceptions about protein intake in athletes, and if this is controlled, the ideas and views of many people would be much more accurate and realistic about the truth behind protein. Advertisement is providing people with the idea that by simply consuming high protein diets or protein supplements they will achieve their ideal body shape and fitness, which through the research discussed has been proven wrong.


Caffery, Lee. "How Much Protein Do Athletes Need." N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2014. <>.

United States. Center for Disease Control. Protein. Atlanta: , 2012. Print. <>.

Quinn, Elizabeth. "Sports Nutrition - Protein Needs for Athletes." Sports Medicine. N.p., 10 09 2010. Web. 16 Feb 2014. <>.

Wolfe, Robert, and Kevin Tipton. "Protein and amino acids for athletes." Journal of sports science. (2004): 65-79. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. < IV.pdf>.

Murray, Peter. "How Emotions Influence What We Buy." Psychology Today. (2013): n. page. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <>.

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