In light of the recent diet trends that mostly advocate for higher protein consumption, we are left with a lingering question: how much is too much protein? I will answer this question, and talk about something that nobody else seems to be concerned about which is what is the best source of protein for good health.
The truth is, it depends on the source. Where you get your protein has more direct influence on your other bodily functions than quantity ever will. No matter how much protein you consume, it doesn’t matter unless you obtain it from a healthy source.
I’ll go into the source of protein a little be later in this article.
So all things being equal – how much is too much protein?
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How Much Is Too Much Protein?
How much is too much protein? According to Harvard University, anything above 2 grams of protein per kg or 0.9 grams per pound of body weight is a reason for alarm, especially if you’re an average person without an active lifestyle or regular intensive workouts.
I’m not about to tease you with half-baked info like most articles do, only to add more questions to your mind.
I’m here to tell you what nobody else is telling you.
You’ve heard of the proverb that goes, “Everything in excess is opposed to nature”, by none other than the Father of Western Medicine—Hippocrates.
This quote could mean a hundred things, but the message is clear: too much of anything can be bad for you.
And that includes protein.
If you’re on a high-protein diet, you need to know where to draw the line between acceptable and excessive amounts of protein consumption.
I know you’re as confused as I was when I first started dieting.
I would often ask myself if I was going overboard by loading up on more protein than necessary, because I was led to believe that high doses of protein would make me lose weight.
Little did I know that there’s more to protein than what people have been telling us.
Yes, a higher amount of protein helps with weight loss, but not as much as the source of the protein.
Sometimes, the risk is not solely in the amount, but on the kind of protein you’re eating.
This article is meant to answer your questions regarding protein and how quantity AND quality play a role in achieving a healthy weight loss.
How Much Protein Do I Really Need?
By standards, it is recommended that adults consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per day for every kg of body weight. This is 0.36 grams for every pound of body weight.
To simplify, here’s a sample equation:
- 50 grams of protein each day for a 63 kg/ 140-lbs person.
- 70 grams of protein each day for a 90 kg/ 200-lbs person
The range of acceptable protein intake is highly varied from one case to another.
But until there’s conclusive research that determines the exact range, the National Academy of Medicine suggests that anywhere from 10-35% of calories must come from protein.
What Happens When You Eat Too Much Protein? 5 Side Effects
Like what I’ve said earlier, there are dangers attached to anything you’re taking in excess.
So we know that anything above 2 grams per kg of body weight or 0.9 grams per pound of body weight is a reason for alarm, especially if you’re an average person without an active lifestyle or athlete-level routines.
If you fail to stick to the acceptable protein intake or go beyond the recommended dietary allowance, you are making yourself vulnerable to the following side effects:
1) High cholesterol levels
2) Higher risks of developing cardiovascular diseases
3) Increased cancer risks
4) Increase in weight (yes, it can even backfire your weight loss efforts!)
5) Bone-related conditions
What Happens To Excess Protein In The Body?
Once you’ve eaten your body’s dietary allowance of proteins for a day, there are two things that can happen to the excess proteins:
- If your calorie intake is low, your cells can transform your amino acids—the byproducts of proteins—into molecules that can be burned as fuel.
- If you’ve consumed more calories than you needed, your body will be left with no choice but to convert amino acids into fatty acids and eventually store them in your adipose fat tissue.
It should be noted that amino acids are processed instead of stored in the body.
Therefore, if there are excessive quantities of proteins in your body, they either end up as energy or as fats.
Should You Eat More Protein To Lose Weight?
I’ll answer this question on the spot: Yes, you should, as long as your total calorie count is still less than the number of calories you burn. Check out my weight loss calculator to find out how many calories you need to lose weight each day.
For the most effective weight loss, quality has more bearing than quantity.
Several research studies, including the one conducted at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, came up with the following findings:
- Frequent red meat eaters gain more weight compared to those who eat more nuts.
- Eating red meat, poultry, and dairy products is linked to an increased weight gain compared to eating yogurt, nuts and nut butter.
- Eating one serving of beans and peas every day leads to an increased fullness, which contributes to better weight loss.
These studies just sum up what most people fail to see: that consuming more protein isn’t bad as long as you obtain it from healthier sources other than animal meat and byproducts.
Moreover, consuming more protein can indeed help in weight loss, but only if this particular protein is sourced from plant-based foods.
Best Healthy Protein Sources
While everyone else is asking, “How much is too much protein?” no one seems to have questioned where healthy proteins can be sourced.
Only a few people realize that when you consume protein-rich food, you also simultaneously consume everything that comes with it—carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
While you can definitely benefit from the other nutrients present in protein-rich food, the rest of the food composition might trigger more health risks than you could imagine.
Hence, many researchers suggest that you should get more of your protein from plant-based foods than animal-based food.
Good plant-based food sources include legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and even fruits and vegetables.
You can get a full list of the best protein-rich plant sources by clicking the link below:
If you didn’t know, most plant-based foods are actually rich in protein content, which when eaten in considerable yet balanced amounts, can deliver not only muscle mass and weight loss success, but also a sound healthy body.
Also, there’s little chance that you’ll go overboard if you eat more of these protein-rich plant foods as compared to frequent consumption of animal meat and byproducts.
The nutrients that come along with proteins will offset the side effects that can be harmful to your body.
If you’re aiming for effective and sustainable weight loss, a high-protein diet can indeed help you but only if you sourced it from healthier non-meat alternatives such as legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and veggies.
You don’t have to worry about getting too much protein if you get most of your protein from plants, even if you consumed a very high amount of high protein plant based foods.
The highest protein plant-based foods are legumes – beans or lentils.
Even if you based your diet on beans and nothing else, there’s a little chance that you’ll reach the peak of your daily protein limit.
In fact, an average woman can have 8 cups of beans in a day, which gives you 113 grams of protein – and still wouldn’t have exceeded the protein limit for the day.
In fact, if you were to consume 8 cups of beans per day, you wouldn’t just get protein. You’d also be able to get large doses of other nutrients such as iron, folate, phosphorus, calcium, carbs, fiber, sodium and other healthy compounds.
All of these on top of achieving the recommended calorie intake necessary for functioning.
This is not to say that I’m promoting a diet that is solely based on beans.
After all, such a diet will make you vitamin C deficient because you wouldn’t be getting any fruits or vegetables in your diet, which are also necessary for good health.
What I’d like to point out is that you can substitute plant-based foods for meats as your primary protein sources, while also incorporating fruits and vegetables so you can achieve an improved taste, nutrition, and level of enjoyment.
This, to me, constitutes a well-balanced meal.
You get your high-protein food along with the necessary nutrients that your body needs.
I have categorized the plant-based foods from which you can obtain your protein fix:
- Legumes – lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, and their byproducts, peanuts
- Nuts and seeds – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds, among many others
- Whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, and oats
- Crops such as corn, broccoli, asparagus and artichokes
Vegan Protein Smoothie – No Powder
This is the smoothie I drink every single day to get a massive amount of plant based protein without protein powder. You can read the full article and get the video here.
The question of “how much is too much protein?” should be rephrased into “how much protein are you getting from plant-based foods?”
If you are getting more of your protein from plant based sources, you will be getting optimal levels of protein while protecting yourself from diseases.
With all the relevant studies to advocate for a plant based diet, plant-based foods should now be your first option if you’re planning to lose weight through a high-protein diet.
In case of a plant-based diet, allocating more space for legumes on your plate can help you achieve a significant weight loss minus the fear of consuming too much protein.
Above all, your goal should not only be about quantity but also about quality—the success of your weight loss efforts depends largely on these two.
If you’d like a quick easy recipe to make sure you get enough protein and all your other nutrients, check out my delicious recipe below:
Related Resources You Are Also Going To Love
Here are all the most popular resources that will help you take things to the next level:
- FREE Weight Loss Protein Shake Recipe Card
If you enjoyed this article, How Much Is Too Much Protein? What No One Is Telling You please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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