Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. Studies suggest that about half of a human body’s dry weight is made up of proteins. Unsurprisingly, it is given a lot of importance in the fitness world. It keeps you full longer and controls your blood sugar which is probably what makes it a popular snacking choice. Some common sources of proteins are legumes, meats, eggs, and beans.
So how much protein is too much protein?
There is a lot of debate on how much protein your body actually needs since age, gender and health play an important role. On average, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommends a ratio of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound. A recommended 1 g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years.
This amounts to a per day consumption of:
- 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
- 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
When does a high protein diet become dangerous?
We all probably have a friend who we’ve seen binge on one too many protein bars or replaces whole meals with them. Or sometimes we probably do it ourselves. But consuming too much protein can have negative short and long term effects on our body. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, the body doesn’t store proteins and must be consumed in controlled portions daily. Since protein is an important component of muscle building, a high protein diet must be coupled with an effective exercise routine. Most athletes require extra protein that is consumed in the form of whey proteins. This helps them restore energy as they exercise. Without exercise, protein is most likely to convert to fat along with causing a host of other problems.
Some short term effects of a high protein diet are
- Intestinal discomfort
- Mood Irregularities
- Lack of appetite
Long term effects include an increased chance of cardiovascular diseases, blood vessel disorders, kidney and liver injuries, and gall bladder colic.
In conclusion, as in the case of most things, too much protein can be a bad thing. It’s always best to maintain a balanced diet including other nutrients like carbs, fats, vitamins, etc.