Is Eating Too Much Protein Bad for You?

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question-icon-newIs too much protein bad for you? I eat about 190 grams of protein a day and really want to bulk up and add about 10 pounds of solid muscle to my physique. Is that too much protein or is it the right amount for my size? I weigh 183 pounds and try to eat around 5-6 meals per day.

answer-icon-newAs with anything, eating too much of it can have some adverse effects and certainly protein is no exception. Eating too much protein is very taxing on the kidneys as they try to eliminate the ketones produced by the breakdown of protein. And as our kidneys are vital for keeping us alive, we definitely don’t want to stress them any more than is necessary. But how much protein is too much? And what is the optimal level of protein intake? Well, that really depends on who or what research you want to believe. The amount of protein the body needs really depends on the individual. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is .36 grams per pound of body weight. So at 183 pounds that would be roughly 65-75 grams of protein per day. This is how much protein is recommended for your body to maintain its basic functions. Some of these functions include:

  • Providing the building blocks for muscle, bone, connective tissue and hair.
  • Synthesis of hormones and enzymes.
  • Maintaining fluid balance.
  • Repairing damage to the body through blood clotting and scar tissue.

steak-bbq-proteinThis essential protein recommendation does not however take into consideration the outside demands we may place on the body through intense cardiovascular or strength training. As we increase this demand, the need for protein will increase as well. This is especially true with respect to strength training. When strength training, we are actively breaking down muscle tissue through applied force and resistance. This causes the body to enter what is called an anabolic state, where the tissues in the body are in a very active state to obtain materials and energy for maintenance and growth. Hence the need for a greater intake of protein.

It is important to note here that this increase is not limited to protein. The body will require an increase in all essential nutrients to perform optimally when it’s in this anabolic state. This is why it is essential to eat balanced nutrient dense meals throughout the day. You want to consume the most amount of nutrition possible at each meal.

So the amount of protein you need to consume really is a question of what type of training you are involved with. The common reference for active individuals is 1 gram per pound of body weight but again this is a general claim. Finding the optimal amount for your body based on your training really requires some experimentation. If you hang around any group of people who train for competition whether it’s a triathlon, bodybuilding circles, marathons or MMA (mixed martial arts), you will constantly hear how people are tinkering with their nutritional ratios. The fact of the matter is there is no set standard so you have to find what’s best for you.

The question to ask yourself is how do you feel with your nutrition at its current ratios? If you’re feeling great and obtaining the results you want then I wouldn’t change it. If you find that you are losing energy or strength then it’s time to experiment a little with your macronutrient ratios (protein, carbs and fat) to find out what is optimal for your body.

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