Are High Protein Diets Safe
For many years, there were concerns that higher protein / meat intakes for weight loss could have negative effects on health. These include disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, adverse effects on kidney function, elevated cancer risk, liver dysfunction, and elevated cardiovascular disease risk.
However, its important to put this into context. Eating excessively high amounts of protein over the long term to the exclusion of other health-promoting nutrients can plausibly cause nutrient imbalances.
Next, its important to consider just how much protein is too much protein. An intake of 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day is generally deemed a safe threshold for most individuals, with an upper limit of 3.5 gram of protein per kg body weight per day in well-adapted individuals.
Meal And Shake Ideas To Meet Your Protein Needs
Following a high-protein diet isnt as difficult as it may seem, we promise. If youre looking for foods and other sources of protein to add into your diet to boost your protein intake, here are some of our favorite dietary proteins:
Nuts, like almonds and pistachios
Seeds, like pumpkin seeds
Lean meats like lean beef
High protein veggies, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Another easy way to get your protein is through drinks like a smoothie or a protein shake. Bonus: Liquids are easier to digest, so your body is able to absorb and use the protein in protein shakes and smoothies much quicker. Opt to create your drinks using a protein powder made from fast-absorbing proteins, like whey protein or pea protein, for an even speedier absorption rate.
Best Sources Of Protein
Protein comes from plant and animal sources, and you can meet your protein needs with either type of protein. Plant sources are typically not considered complete proteins since they lack all of the essential amino acids. For this reason, eating a wide variety of plant-based proteins that cover all of the amino acids you need is important.
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How Much Protein Should I Eat In A Sitting For Muscle Gains
Youve probably heard that the body can only utilize so much protein per meal or in a sitting. This is a bit of a controversial topic although more recent research has been able to provide us with more accurate information.
Recent literature from 2018 concluded that the ideal strategy for protein intake if the goal is to gain muscle, eat 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach the minimum recommendation of 1.6 g/kg/day. However, an upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day spread out over four meals of 0.55 g/kg/meal has also shown to be an effective approach .
But there are several factors that determine an ideal protein intake the study also mentioned that its practical to individualize a diet program and be open to exceeding estimated averages.
Overall macronutrient ratio and protein quality/form could play an important role in how much protein can be effectively absorbed and utilized in one sitting.
Daily Protein Requirement For Athletes
For building muscle mass and for maintaining muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.42.0 g protein/kg body weight/day is sufficient for most exercising individuals, according to a 2017 critical review performed by the International Society of Sports Nutrition . In the same statement they posit that “higher protein intakes may have positive effects on body composition in resistance-trained individuals “. Additionally, the report suggests an optimal intake schedule of several doses of protein spread 3-4h apart evenly during the day.
While previously there were concerns related to too high doses of daily protein intake, current research proves the safety and efficacy of protein in general and whey protein in particular .
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Is 100 Grams Of Protein Enough To Build Muscle
As stated above, people in general areadvised to consume a minimum of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, but people who prioritize building muscle should aim for more than that minimum. Although theres not one magic number and recommendations vary by person, theAmerican College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for athletes. Following that general guideline, consuming closer to 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may be beneficial for bodybuilders and those looking to build muscle or maintain lean body mass. In the average 150-pound adult whos actively strength training or resistance training, that might look like 75-120 grams of protein daily 100 grams being most peoples sweet spot. It has been proposed that muscle protein synthesis is maximized in young adults at a dose of around 2025 grams of a high-quality protein.
You may have concerns that eating too much protein is bad for the kidneys, but 100 grams of protein per day is generally safe for healthy adults. High amounts of protein can be harmful to the kidneys if a person already has kidney issues however, for healthy individuals, consuming around 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram is fine, as noted in a 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
How To Get Enough Protein
Here are a few tips to get more protein in your healthy diet.
- Serve scrambled eggs and spinach for breakfast.
- Choose turkey bacon or sausages that are lower in fat. Better yet, look for brands with reduced sodium.
- Add seeds or chopped nuts on top of a veggie side dish.
- Snack on a handful of almonds.
- Buy lean cuts of meat and serve them with lots of dark green and colorful veggies.
- Eat more fish. Choose baked or poached fish.
- Serve baked or roasted chicken instead of fried chicken.
- Make a stir-fry with chicken or tofu and fresh veggies.
You can also use other methods to consume the right portion size. A serving of meat, poultry, or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand. A serving of cheese is the same size as two dice. Keep in mind that these servings vary based on hunger, weight, age, activity level, and other factors.
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How Much Protein Should I Eat At Once
That said, the amino acids most closely linked to muscle protein synthesis , a process that switches on genes responsible for muscle gain are the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine has far and away the most research linking it to MPS.
Now, MPS is just one piece of the muscle gain puzzle: total daily calories is hugely important, as is total protein intake, ones exercise regimen, sleep, and many other factors. While these are far more important than worrying about leucine some research has found people to gain and lose the same amount of muscle and fat whether theyre eating every day or every other day, so long as their calories are in check it seems that about three grams of leucine per serving is ideal for keeping MPS maintained.
Youll get that in about 20 to 30 grams of protein from most protein dense sources, including many vegan ones like legumes and grains.
So if youre eating 150 grams of protein a day, this might sound like you should eat 5 meals with 30 grams of protein each, so a meal every three hours. Theres nothing wrong with this approach, but its worth remembering that some research has found MPS to be about the same after six hours whether you ate two small meals with 30 grams apiece or if you ate a big meal with 60 grams of protein and then nothing else for six hours.
We Looked At All The Studies And Spoke To Multiple Experts To Land On The Ideal Number
When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, few questions can be as confusing as that of how much protein you should consume. The FDAs suggestions for avoiding a protein deficiency are a lot lower than what the average lean, muscular person will tell you they eat. Whats the minimum and is there a maximum? We talked to multiple experts and look at a ton of research to land on the formulas used in this calculator.
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How Much Protein Is Too Much
According to research, long-term protein intake of 2g per kg BW per day is safe for healthy adults, while an upper tolerable limit of 3.5 g per kg BW per day is appropriate for well-adapted individuals. However, for most people, anything above this could result in digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities. So its not recommended to consume more than the above mentioned intake .
Why Protein Is Essential To Your Diet
In addition to carbohydrates and essential fats, protein is a macronutrient required by the body in order to perform basic functions. When there is not enough protein in your diet, you may experience weakness, fatigue, swelling, skin degeneration, loss of muscle mass, and an increased risk of injury.
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High Protein Intake For Fat Loss
If you noticed Dr. Nelsons comment about being hypocaloric , you may be wondering if theres evidence that protein needs might change based on if youre trying to lose fat or gain muscle.
To be clear: the majority of research and the most prominent sports nutrition bodies agree that theres probably no need to exceed the daily 0.7 grams per pound, even if youre trying to lose weight.
That said, there are a couple of studies that have suggested more protein might be useful if you have a good amount of muscle mass and are trying to lose fat quickly. One, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, , found that athletes in a big calorie deficit maintained more muscle and lost more fat eating 1.1 grams of protein per pound than a group taking 0.54 grams, the absolute minimum recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Another study published in 2014 that looked specifically at bodybuilders found that they would respond best to consuming 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day of protein. This is among folks with under 10 percent body fat, so they were eating an upper level of about 1.3 grams per pound of bodyweight.
What Is A Good Protein Intake
A good protein intake is 40 to 60 grams of protein a day. Proteins are one of the macronutrients that can help with muscle growth. More protein may be needed by those with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio. There are many types of protein, so make sure you are choosing the right kind. This should include both the amino acids, which provide the bulk of the protein, and the amino acid breakdown products. Proteins provide amino acids to muscles and other tissues in the body. There are many types of amino acids, and those are what give protein its structure. Depending on the protein you are eating, you may need to combine amino acids to make them more absorbable. This can be done by combining the protein with carbohydrates and fats, which the body can then break down more easily.
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How To Calculate The Amount Of Protein In Typical Foods
Now that youve got a rough idea of how much protein you should be eating every day, youll want to estimate how much youre actually eating. I find it easiest to estimate the amount of protein in a meal in 25g units, and the amount for snacks in about 10g units.
Heres why. Common portions of many protein foods we eat at meals conveniently have about 25g of protein, and protein snacks tend to fall in the 10g range. So, it makes it easy to keep track. For example, 3 ounces of cooked fish or poultry has about 25g of protein, and a snack of a single-serve carton of yogurt, a protein bar, or a handful of roasted soy nuts would have about 10g of protein.
If youre a woman aiming for about 100g of protein a day, you can easily do that by taking in 25g at each meal, and have a couple of protein snacks. If youre a male aiming for about 150g a day, you can simply double up your protein units at a couple of meals in order to hit your target.
How To Calculate How Much Protein You Need
protein is a macronutrient. It is an essential part of the human diet. We need protein for building and repairing cells, tissues and organs. But too much protein can be harmful, as it can cause kidney problems and can make you more likely to gain weight. The protein in your body is broken down into amino acids. The body then uses amino acids to make different protein chains. So, to calculate how much protein you need, you need to add together the number of grams of protein you need a day and the number of grams of protein your body uses in a day.
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Based On Weight And Activity
Other ways to get a more specific protein goal may consider lean muscle mass and/or physical activity level.
The average adult needs a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so a person who weighs 165 pounds, or 75 kg, would need about 60 grams of protein per day.
However, your protein needs may increase if you are very active. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Dietitians of Canada suggest that athletes need more protein.
These organizations suggest that athletes consume between 1.2 grams and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with endurance athletes at the lower end of this range and strength and power athletes at the higher end.
Protein Is Hard To Store As Body Fat
During periods of weight loss, there are often times where more energy is consumed than expended. As such, minimizing how much of that excess energy is stored as fat is important.
The body processes the three different macronutrients in very different ways.
Leaving out a lot of jargon and mumbo jumbo, in order for protein to be stored as fat, it goes through a much different biochemical process than either carbohydrates or protein.
This process makes it much harder for protein to store as body fat.
One study found that protein is stored as body fat with roughly 66% efficiency, while carbohydrates store with 80% efficiency and fats store at 96% efficiency .
During weight loss, overeating protein results in much less stored body fat than overeating on carbohydrates or fat. If you are looking for ways to lose weight fast, consuming protein is a great option!
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Intermediate: The Percentage Of Calories Method
Does the Palm Method feel a little too chill for you?
No biggie! You can also estimate your protein needs based on your target calorie intake. I recommend 25-30% of calories for active adults.
Heres how to do it:
Want to see that in action? Lets assume youre aiming for 1600 calories per day, with 30% of calories from protein:
1600*0.3 = 480480/4=120
Youre aiming for 120 grams of protein per day .
The primary upsides are that this approach promotes a balanced diet, and its also a bit more precise than the hand method.
But, there are a couple of downsides. First, the percentage approach assumes you are eating at an appropriate calorie level for your height, weight, age, and activity level. Eating too much will result in weight gain while eating too little could result in muscle loss.
And from a practical standpoint, the percentage method means that youll likely need to track calories and protein intake in an app like MyFitnessPal. Tracking can be very effective for weight loss, but its not for everyone. Its tedious, it can lead to food obsession, and lots of people havent mastered the basics enough to really do macros well.
That said, the percentage method is a decent option if you have some experience manipulating your calorie and nutrient intake.
How Much Protein Do I Need
The amount of protein that the human body requires daily is dependent on many conditions, including overall energy intake, growth of the individual, and physical activity level. It is often estimated based on body weight, as a percentage of total caloric intake , or based on age alone. 0.8g/kg of body weight is a commonly cited recommended dietary allowance . This value is the minimum recommended value to maintain basic nutritional requirements, but consuming more protein, up to a certain point, maybe beneficial, depending on the sources of the protein.
The recommended range of protein intake is between 0.8 g/kg and 1.8 g/kg of body weight, dependent on the many factors listed above. People who are highly active, or who wish to build more muscle should generally consume more protein. Some sources suggest consuming between 1.8 to 2 g/kg for those who are highly active. The amount of protein a person should consume, to date, is not an exact science, and each individual should consult a specialist, be it a dietitian, doctor, or personal trainer, to help determine their individual needs.
Recommended dietary allowance of protein, based on age
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