How Much Protein is Too Much?
This is a question that I get asked a lot. I mean, it makes sense because we’re told that we need to be consuming more of it. Especially, if you’re looking to gain muscle mass and lose weight. People worry that it can harm your body in ways such as kidney and liver damage. Some of the pathways that are involved in breaking down protein could put off some by-products that cause some concern. However, you shouldn’t worry. The body is well equipped to handle any stressors that could come about from a high protein diet.
How Much Do You Need?
Typically, when looking at recommendations on protein intake, you can do a simple math check. Here are some ways to break it down…
Average activity maybe 2-3 times a week
- 8 grams of protein per pound of body weight
Working out 3-5 times a week and wanting to build muscle
- 1g of protein per pound of body weight
Athlete or working out intensely
- 1.2-1.5g of protein per pound of body weight
Using these recommendations, you would meet enough protein for whatever your goals are. Now, you may be starting from a place where you weren’t consuming much protein. These numbers may seem huge! That’s okay. You don’t have to be there right away. Just take your time and work your way up there, because it may not be easy to eat that much if you aren’t used to it.
Can It Actually Be Bad?
There will be some people who say yes, and there will be some who say no. In all honesty, there is probably an upper limit if you were getting closer to 3-4g of protein per pound of body weight. However, you would have an immensely hard time doing this.
The thought is that ammonia is a by-product of breaking down protein and it’s going to damage the liver and/or kidneys. Yet, the body is more than ready to handle this and push things through as normal. Now, if you are someone who is already struggling with kidney or liver damage, then there would definitely be some precautions that you would need to take, along with talking to your doctor.
There is also the idea that some of the protein that would make your intake “high” isn’t even getting used. That’s been debunked! No matter how high the protein intake is, it will get put to good use. The body is a complex machine and can always use better recovery and repair, which is exactly what protein does!
So, given you are in good health, protein is not bad for you.
High Protein Equals Results
Now that we’ve cleared up what could be bad about protein, let’s talk about the good. A high protein diet can really help anyone. Especially if you are looking to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle, or all three. One of the most effective changes that you can make in your lifestyle is a higher protein diet. This is typically a perfect spot for people to start when looking to see some changes. Here’s why.
Protein is thermogenic. Meaning, that as you consume more protein, it actually costs calories to breakdown. So, you are essentially stoking the fire as you consume more protein.
Protein keeps you full. Protein is extremely satiating and can keep those hunger pains away. Try eating a pound of chicken, you’ll have a hard time doing so and you won’t be hungry for quite some time.
Protein is also one of the best ways to build muscle! As you rip those muscles down, you need to build them back up even better. This is what protein does. It swoops in and makes the muscles bigger, faster, and stronger. Now, we know this looks great, but did you know that muscle mass helps your body burn calories? As you grow more muscle, you actually become more efficient metabolically. Meaning you burn more calories like a fine-tuned machine. So, just by getting your swole on you can get in better shape and have a better chance at burning body fat.
Therefore, consuming a high protein diet can go a long way to help you literally recomposition your body. It’s one of the best ways to help your body become more efficient at actually burning calories as well. It’s a simple thing that can bring about a lot of change.
Unless you have a pre-existing condition, there really isn’t a “too much” on protein. The amount you would need for it to become a problem is almost impossible to even get to. Protein in high amounts can actually go a long way in aiding with weight loss and body fat reduction.
Increasing your protein intake is a very simple step that you could start today if looking to make some changes. Losing weight, burning body fat, and building muscle are all by-products of a good workout routine paired with a high protein intake. Use the recommendations above to see where you could make some improvements!