Do you shudder at the thought of eating a bowl of pasta, but gobble down your protein bar with no second thought? Like many, you have likely been influenced by the current low carbohydrate, high protein health trend. This fear of carbohydrates stems from the media’s portrayal of protein as the golden nutrient, helping us to grow muscle and stay lean. This is in stark contrast to carbohydrates, which are typically associated with addiction and weight gain.
Food companies have taken advantage of this trend, now selling product alternatives which are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Just walk down any shopping isle and you’ll see this phenomenon, from protein enriched bread to high protein yogurt. This leads to the pressing question, can you have too much protein?
The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.75 g/kg for adult women and 0.84 g/kg for adult men. This amount is slightly increased in special populations such as athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those over the age of 70.
Like any diet, this one comes with advantages and disadvantages. As with any macronutrient we consume, protein that is not burned as energy gets stored as fat. Thus, increasing your protein intake without increasing your overall energy expenditure may in fact cause you to gain fat. Likewise, those consuming a high protein diet need to ensure that they are getting enough fibre. Low fibre intake is associated with an increased risk of bowel and colon cancer.
Moreover, excess protein consumption may cause the body to excrete calcium, which can lead to the development of osteoporosis. Likewise, an abnormally high protein intake can cause liver and kidney problems, as these organs need to work extra hard to eliminate toxic protein waste products such as urea.
On the other hand, there are a variety of short term benefits from consuming a high protein diet. Protein helps us feel satiated and curbs cravings. Furthermore, protein has a high thermic effect on the body. This means that it can help boost your metabolism. Thus, temporarily adhering to this diet can facilitate weight loss.
In conclusion, when deciding which dietary pattern to follow, it is important to acknowledge that individual differences in factors such as age, lifestyle, goals, personality and genetics will influence which dietary pattern will help you reach your health and fitness goals in the most effective and sustainable way.
Are you confused about how much protein you should be eating? Comment below to receive advice on protein amounts, timing and types to meet your individual needs.
Likewise, an effective training regime which compliments your nutrition plan is vital to achieve the health and fitness goals you deserve.
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