Protein. What could be wrong with protein? The word itself comes from the Greek “proteos” meaning the “first one” or “most important one.” Our life takes place in proteins! We store information in proteins! When we learn something, it involves changes in our proteins! We pass along our genes to the next generation by way of proteins. In fact, it seems that whenever we ask the question, “What makes this miraculous life changing event possible?” the answer invariably comes back, “Proteins” So we should get as much protein as we can. Right? Wrong.
According to the Institutes of Medicine, the average adult should be getting about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily. This translates to about 46 grams per day for women and 56 for men. However, the latest report from the Department of Agriculture reveals that we are getting much more than that. Most recent statistics show that American women ages 20 and above get 68 grams of protein per day, while males of the same age get a whopping 98.9 grams.
What’s Wrong With Too Much Protein?
Of course protein is an essential part of our diet. It helps us to repair and build cells. We’ve always been taught the value of a high protein breakfast to keep us from unhealthy snacking throughout the day, and a new analysis reveals that high protein diets can lead to lower risk of stroke. However, it seems there can be too much of a good thing.
Marion Nestle, Ph.D, MPH and professor of Nutrition at NYU says, “Because Americans consume so much protein, and there is plenty in foods from both plant and animal sources, and there is no evidence of protein deficiency in the U.S. population, protein is a non-issue. Why make it into one? The only reason for doing so is marketing. Protein used as a marketing tool is about marketing, not health. The advantage for marketing purposes of protein over fat and carbohydrates is that it’s a positive message, not negative. Marketers don’t have to do anything other than mention protein to make people think it’s a health food.” However, although as Nestle points out, much of the research is “uncertain,” there are a few proven ill effects of two much protein.
Because kidneys are responsible fro filtering out waste products of digested protein, it is not surprising that high protein diets may put a strain on these organs. According to a 2003 study, this damage was noticeable only among people in the early kidney disease stages. The lack of significant symptom make it particularly dangerous, as noted by WebMD.
If you’re upping the protein without cutting back on other things in your diet, you may notice the pounds packing on. A 2012 study showed that the weight gained by individuals assigned a high protein diet was no different than those assigned to a low protein one when the groups overate. However, as Time reported the gain in the high protein consumers was mostly due to lean body mass rather than fat.
Blood urea nitrogen is one of the waste products manufactured by the kidneys during the filtering process. Levels of blood urea nitrogen are used by physicians to evaluate function of the kidneys and are also a measure of a person’s hydration levels. A 2002 study reported an indirect relationship between hydration and protein intake. Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS says this is because the body needs more water in order to rid itself of the extra nitrogen. However, she allows that dehydration is not a reason to avoid increased protein intake, as long as it is accompanied by an increase in water intake.
Are you getting too much protein? Noticing the symptoms? Let us know what you think.