How Much Protein Is Too Much?

It’s no secret that protein can do wonders for the body— it can help people gain muscle mass, make them feel fuller longer, and prevent those late-night trips to the cookie jar  Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Metabolism Division, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medial Branch-Galveston, Galveston, TX. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2001 Mar;11(1):109-32 Leidy HJ, Lepping RJ, Savage CR, et al. Department of Dietetics & Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas. Obesity 2011;19(10): 2019-2025.. And while protein is essential in a healthy, balanced diet, there can be of it.

Macho, Macho Man — Why It Matters

Photo by Laura Schwecherl

Proteins contain amino acids that help . The human diet should include ten to 35 percent protein, which comes from foods like meat, poultry, fish, and legumes. Protein can help with weight management, as people tend to . (Eggs make for a better lunch than a double Dorito serving.)

People ages 18 and older should consume 0.36 grams of protein daily for every pound they weigh. So a 150-pound person needs about 54 grams of protein, . Who knew a little chicken could go a long way? Especially active people or bodybuilders, should gobble down more protein to keep up with their fast metabolisms.

As important as protein is, eating too much is potentially dangerous. People looking to bulk up sometimes load up on protein, steak and protein shots will produce insta-muscles. But a diet of green eggs and ham alone doesn’t do much toward defining those pecs, since eating protein without pumpin’ iron won’t build body muscle Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX. Journal of Sports Science. 2004 Jan;22(1):65-79.. intake also often goes hand in hand with skimping out on the carbs, which can lead to insufficient fiber— a cause of constipation and .

Protein: Peril or Power? — The Answer/Debate

There are definite health dangers to going after the with an all-protein diet. It turns out our bodies can’t store excess protein, so once it’s broken down into amino acids, the nitrogen content. And the more protein we chow down, the harder the kidneys have to work to remove the waste. Studies suggest people with kidney disease should limit their protein intake, though there isn’t enough evidence to prove that excessive protein intake can actually cause kidney disease Martin WF, Armstrong LE, Rodriguez NR. Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Nutrition & Metabolism (Lond) 2005 Sep 20;2:25..

But don’t toss away all the eggs and bacon just yet, since not getting enough protein has its risks too. An insufficient amount of protein can lead to , which may result in extreme weight loss, fatigue, or diarrhea. It’s best to get most protein from plant sources like beans, legumes, nuts, and soy products to steer clear of . Skip the pig (we know bacon is heavenly, but still), and opt for like turkey, chicken, and beef tenderloin in moderation.

At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. can result from consuming too much or too little of any .