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June 02, 2021
CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH PROTEIN? | By Hubert Cormier
High protein diets like Atkins and Paleo are immensely popular but what are the effects of a high-protein diet? Is there such a thing as too much protein? If so, what are the risks associated with it? Let’s take a look at this essential nutrient.
🍗 Protein: your health ally
Along with carbohydrates (sugars) and lipids (fats), protein is a macronutrient. It is an essential ad your body needs it to function properly. Proteins have several functions:
- Creates different body structures including muscles, bones, blood, and skin
- Hormones (insulin, glucagon, growth hormones)
- Regulates the acid/base balance in body fluids
They’re present in many foods including meat, poultry, fish, soy, eggs, legumes, quinoa, etc.
🥚 How much protein is too much protein?
Current recommendations allow you to calculate your daily protein intake by multiplying your body weight (in kg) by 0.8. This number gives you an idea of how much protein you should be getting in your diet. By dividing this number by three, you will get the suggested amount per meal. Of course, protein requirements vary depending on your age, gender, level of physical activity, and body composition. There are several factors to consider but usually, the average North American diet easily meets daily protein requirements.
While studies on the amount of protein that should not be exceeded are few and far between, according to one study in particular, it seems that a high-protein diet, i.e., 3 g/kg per day, doesn’t have an impact on health. This study was conducted over a short period of time (one year) on men doing resistance workouts. It is difficult to establish a recommended amount, as protein requirements vary so much from one individual to another and from one day to another (depending on lifestyle). Dietary Reference Intakes recommends that protein intake should be in the range of 10-35% of total energy intake. For a diet of 2,000 calories daily, a protein intake of more than 175 g/day would be considered high.
🐟 The potential risks of consuming too much protein
If a high-protein diet is also high in calories, it can lead to gain weight—and not just muscle mass! Also, high-protein diets are often low in carbohydrates and fibre, which increases the risk of constipation.
The type of protein consumed is also of vital importance to health. High protein intakes are often associated with a high consumption of animal proteins such as red meat. This type of protein, when consumed in excess, is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Overconsumption of protein can also lead to kidney problems in some predisposed individuals. However, studies on this subject are contradictory in people without a predisposition. In general, a high-protein diet is not currently considered a risk factor for increased risk of kidney problems.
In conclusion, remember that your current diet is probably already meeting your protein needs. If you are working out to reach specific goals, seek professional advice from a health-care provider to determine what is best for your individual needs. Remember, protein is found in many foods/products and it is best to vary your diet to get all the other essential nutrients!
- Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Vargas, L., Tamayo, A., Buehn, R., & Peacock, C. A. (2016). A high-protein diet has no harmful effects: a one-year crossover study in resistance-trained males. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2016.
- Pan, A., Sun, Q., Bernstein, A. M., Schulze, M. B., Manson, J. E., Stampfer, M. J., … & Hu, F. B. (2012). Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Archives of internal medicine, 172 (7), 555-563.
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LEARN MORE ABOUT PROTEIN WITH HUBERT CORMIER:
👉 5 HIGH-PROTEIN FOODS OTHER THAN MEAT
👉 ARE ALL PROTEIN SOURCES EQUAL?
👉 5 TIPS FOR ADDING PROTEIN TO YOUR BREAKFAST