Dietary Protein and Strength Exercise: Historical Perspectives
Strength training and bodybuilding have enjoyed a very, very long and fascinating history, beginning perhaps as early as the 6th century b.c. in Greece when Milo reportedly strengthened his musculature by regularly carrying a calf as it grew into a bull (Todd, 1985). Apparently even very early man understood that muscles grow bigger and stronger when a greater than normal load is placed on them progressively. Over the years since then, references to the use of strength training to improve function (often within a combative context) and health is a theme common to the literature. The diet of these early strength athletes is less clear, but protein, carbohydrate, and even alcohol intake may have all been substantial, as Greek legend Milo allegedly consumed as much as 20 pounds (~9 kg) of meat, 20 pounds (~9 kg) of bread, and 18 pints (~10.6 L) of wine daily (Harris, 1964). Regardless of the accuracy of this dietary detail, this information or other similar anecdotes may be the origin of the age-old idea that large quantities of dietary protein are needed to maximize muscle growth.