Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?

protein-sourcesThe average American consumes about 100 grams of protein a day, which is much higher than actually required by the body – 55-65 grams per day if you weigh 150 lbs. Could excess consumption of protein be deleterious to one’s health?

Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles. Having 10-15 grams of protein per meal or snack can help maintain satiety. In recent years, protein has emerged as the only nutrient people feel good about consuming. Fat has been vilified for decades, and is high in calories, while carbs are considered fattening as well.

The risks of excess protein intake can be divided into 2 areas: kidney disease and cancer.

Protein metabolism requires work by the kidneys. Excess protein means a strain on kidneys. For most people, this is not an issue; folks with kidney disease need to reduce their protein intake. Another problem with too much protein is calcium depletion which can lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.

Some studies have shown that a very high protein diet is correlated with an increased risk of some types of cancer. However, a distinction needs to be made between the sources of protein. Apparently, plant based proteins are not harmful at all, while intake that is based mostly on meat and dairy protein may be harmful.

New research presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity points to a risk of weight gain and death when people with a potential for heart disease consume a high protein diet.

If you are dieting, you may be confused right now. On the one hand protein helps with satiety, yet on the other hand you should not eat too much. The answer is to distribute your protein consumption evenly throughout the day. Don’t wait till dinnertime for a huge steak with 50 grams of protein. Have some protein as a part of every meal and snack.

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