- The old adage of more is not necessarily better certainly rings true when it comes to protein consumption. It seems like everyone is consuming copious amounts of protein in order to lose weight or get bigger
- The fact of the matter is that protein overdose can occur and the health ramifications are real. Daily protein is critical to overall health but in recent years with the advent of high protein diets some individuals have taken it too far
- High protein diets can be quite healthy when done right. Individuals can lose weight and improve their overall health. But as with most things in life too much of a good thing can be dangerous
A 1992 study done by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that eating more protein and increasing caloric intake but maintaining the same level of exercise did not increase muscle mass. In fact all of the participants gained excess fat, which can lead to several health problems. In fact, by adding too much protein to your diet your bodily systems are put under a great amount of stress. When carbohydrates are restricted too much for too long your body starts to fight back. Diets that exceed 30% of total calories from protein can cause a toxic buildup of ketones. High levels of these ketones push the kidneys into working too hard and the result is dehydration. Dehydration can cause greats amount of stress on the heart. High protein diets also lead to a type of painful arthritis known as gout.
Another common medical theory is that too much protein can cause bone damage. The theory is that too much protein in the body causes too much acid in the blood so to fight the extra acidity calcium is leeched from the bones to absorb the extra acid. The result is weaker bones. One such study showed that female participants who ate in excess of 95 grams of protein per day were more likely to break their wrist than those who consumed lower levels of protein. Several of the studies showing that protein does in fact cause bone density problems were from the 1960’s and 70’s and were not totally conclusive.
Too much protein will make you bigger, but not in the way you are probably wanting. Protein overdose in the diet, unless burned off by exercise, will be converted to fat. You’ve seen those guys in the gym who seem like they have taken up permanent residence there and always have a protein shake in their hand. Most of them are not the perfect picture of health. Many of them are overweight and even obese to the point that it looks like they’ve been doing their curls with a pitcher of beer.
The rule of thumb for protein intake is .33 grams per pound of body weight. So a 150 pound male would need to ingest 50 grams of protein per day. For those who exercise heavily, especially resistance training should consume between .75 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
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