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How much protein is too much?

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc.

Protein plays a key role in the biochemical processes and pathways in the human body. It is also found in every cell in the body and, except for water, is the most abundant substance in the body.

Breakfast

Most people know that it is important to eat adequate protein to remain healthy.

But how much protein is enough?

First, let’s look at the minimum protein recommended per day. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of dietary protein for adults is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In order to meet this threshold, an adult who weighs 75 kilograms should be eating 60 grams of protein a day, for instance. This is equivalent to two chicken breasts, 10 large eggs, 12 ounces of tempeh, two scoops of whey protein powder, or 1.5 large blocks of extra-firm tofu.

eggs

Some recent research challenges this recommendation, however, suggesting that 0.8 grams per kilogram may not be enough. Especially in athletic populations, those who are active may need as much as 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day in order to prevent muscle loss and maintain muscular performance.

Astonishingly, a 2014 study conducted on 30 healthy resistance-trained individuals concluded that consuming up to 4.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight – or 5.5 times the recommended daily allowance – has no effect on body composition. Kidney and liver function was not analyzed in this study.

Is too much protein bad for your health?

Consuming too much protein, however, can affect overall health (think: Atkins diet). A diet high in animal protein and low in carbohydrates and fats, for example, is associated with increased risk of heart disease, elevated “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and early death. Diets high in protein are also related to changes in sugar and insulin metabolism.

Excessive protein intake can impact kidney health. Consuming too much protein is associated with increased risk of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) and may increase the risk of acute kidney failure.

On the other hand, if a person’s diet is protein-deficient, energy, hormones, enzymes, and the immune system may all be impacted. Molecules like serotonin and dopamine, for example, may become imbalanced and can potentially lead to low mood, depression, and anxiety.

Getting enough protein is imperative for good health – but don’t overdo it!

nutsBelow are some excellent sources of vegetable and animal protein that you can include in your daily diet:

1- Edamame. This vegetable delivers an astonishing 18 grams of protein per cup, making it one of the most protein-rich vegetables. Since edamame is a soy-based vegetable, it is commonly genetically modified and contains pesticides. If you enjoy edamame, make sure to purchase in its organic and non-GMO form.

2-Grilled chicken breast. A medium-sized chicken breast contains 29 grams of protein. Chicken breast is a complete protein, and is also a good source of potassium and vitamin B6.

3-Tempeh.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean that provides 16 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving. Tempeh is a great meat alternative and tends to be easier to digest because it is a fermented food.

4-Hummus. Hummus contains about 1.2 grams of protein per tablespoon. Eating organic hummus alongside your other protein-rich vegetables is a fantastic way to add on a few more grams of protein to your meal.

5-Almond or peanut butter.  Organic, non-GMO nut butters such as almond or peanut butter are excellent sources of protein. A serving of almond or peanut butter contains between 6.7 to 7 grams of protein. Try using Natur Almond Butter or Natur Creamy Peanut butter as veggie dip!

6-Greek yogurt. Non-fat Greek yogurt has some of the highest protein out of all yogurts. One 6-ounce serving contains a whopping 17 grams of protein. Be sure to avoid Greek yogurt with added sugar!

References :
https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-19
http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20150508/high-protein-diet-may-be-dangerous-for-those-at-risk-of-heart-disease#1
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096

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