How Much Protein is Too Much?

You’ve heard me talk recently about the importance of protein – along with the difference between complete and incomplete proteins.

Today I’m going to tell you how much you need:

The average healthy adult needs: 0.8 grams/kg body weight/day. To figure out your weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.  Here are a few examples:

  • If you weigh 125 pounds (57 kg) = 46 grams protein
  • If you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg) = 54 grams protein
  • If you weigh 175 pounds (80 kg) = 64 grams protein

Most Americans get double the amount of protein that they actually need.

If you are an athlete you need more protein.

  • Nonvegetarian endurance athletes require 1.2 – 1.4 grams/kg
  • Nonvegetarian strength athletes require 1.6 – 1.7 grams/kg
  • Vegetarian endurance athletes require 1.3 – 1.5 grams/kg
  • Vegetarian strength athletes require 1.7 – 1.8 grams/kg

Since most Americans get much more than the recommended amount of protein, how much is too much, and is too much harmful?

  • Experts generally agree that individuals should not consume more than 2 grams/kg of body weight.
  • Very high levels of protein have been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol.  Makes sense since most people with very high protein intakes are eating a lot of animal protein that is high in saturated fat.
  • Very high levels of protein may contribute to bone loss. There is not enough evidence to say that this happens for sure, and it’s actually rather controversial but some studies have indicated the correlation.  Why is that?  Animal products contain sulfur amino acids (methionine and cysteine), when these amino acids are metabolized it makes the blood more acidic and calcium acts as a buffer in the body.  Some experts say that calcium is leached from the bones to buffer the acidity.
  • Very high levels of protein intake may increase the risk for kidney disease. This is also not proven, and is rather controversial at this time.  Those that already have kidney disease or are at risk for developing kidney disease, are told to consume a low protein diet.

If you do consume high levels of protein make sure to drink more water since urea is a by-product of protein metabolism you need the extra fluids to flush out the excess urea from yoour kidneys.

Tomorrow – learn how much protein is in your favorite foods!

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2 Responses

  1. I love these posts on protein. I think protein is definitely very misunderstood by a lot of people. Thank you for sharing all this information!

  2. To echo Jess’s comment, I have really enjoyed your recent posts about protein! Thanks for the great info!

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