With all of the protein powders on the market and the focus on high protein diets, it can seem like you can’t get too much protein; however, you can get too much protein and there are reasons you don’t need a lot of protein. Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for health. It provides amino acids, which are the building blocks for all tissues. While protein is essential for health, you don’t need a lot of protein.Per day, on average, women need 46 grams of protein and men need 56 grams of protein, which is much less than the 100 plus grams of protein a lot of people eat. Eating too much protein can be detrimental for health, and, as you will see, there are reasons you don’t need a lot of protein.
1. Kidney Damage
One of the reasons you don’t need a lot of protein, or want to eat too much protein is because it can cause kidney damage. When you eat protein in large quantities, your body gets more nitrogen than it can handle, which causes your kidneys to work very hard to remove the excess nitrogen. Since protein can cause problems for kidneys, people with kidney disease are often put on a low protein diet.
2. Low Bone Density
Diets that are high in animal protein cause people to excrete more calcium in their urine than they normally would. As a result, the body doesn’t get all of the calcium it needs to build strong bones. Interestingly, countries with low protein diets have lower rates of osteoporosis, which demonstrates there is a correlation between protein and bone health.
3. Not an Energy Source
If you are eating a high protein diet, you are probably replacing carbohydrates with protein as an energy source. Unfortunately, protein is not an efficient energy source. Unlike carbohydrates, the body cannot use protein readily for energy. The protein has to be converted to energy, which strains the kidneys and prevents amino acids from being used as building blocks for tissues.
4. Doesn’t Increase Muscle Mass
You may be surprised to learn that consuming a lot of protein will not increase muscle mass. Consuming more than .7 grams of protein for each pound of body weight will not add muscle. In fact, when you consume more protein than your body can use, your body stores the excess protein as fat!
5. No Direct Weight Loss
While adding protein to your diet may help with weight loss if you replace higher calorie foods with it, by itself it won’t help you lose weight. The number of calories you consume is one of the most important factors when it comes to weight loss. You must burn more calories than you take in!
6. Harmful Ammonia
If you eat too much protein, your body produces too much ammonia. Ammonia is a toxin that the liver has to convert into a harmless substance, which taxes the liver. In addition to taxing the liver, too much ammonia can cause encephalopathy, which decreases brain function.
7. Other Nutrients Are Important Too
When you focus solely on protein, you can end up falling short on other nutrients. For instance, your body needs carbohydrates for energy. Also, protein is not a good source of certain nutrients such as vitamin C or fiber, which are both essential for health.
Although your body needs protein, it does not need a lot of protein. When it comes to protein you only need .8 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Consuming more protein than you need can be harmful. It is much better to eat a balanced diet. Did you know you could eat too much protein?