Is Too Much Protein Bad For Weight Loss


Share post:

You Feel Like You’re In A Funk

Protein Myths: Is Too Much Protein Bad?

A high-protein diet might have helped you tone up for summer or get closer to your goal weight, but could it also contribute to your blue mood? Maybe, especially if your protein-to-carb ratio is way off base.

One study from Lifestyle Genomics found high protein, low-fat diets may increase the risk of depression in healthy adults. Another study also revealed that a low-carb diet might also be associated with anxiety, depression and stress. These results agree with the theory that carbohydrates are responsible for releasing serotoninyour body’s “feel good” hormone, so eating a moderate amount of carbs may reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.

Still, this area of research is still underway as there are also conflicting findings, such as the study from Nutrition Reviews that showed that low carb, moderate protein and high-fat diets had no impact on the mood of non-depressive individuals. Nevertheless, focus on eating balanced portions of carbs, protein and fat by following the USDA MyPlate.

Related: 6 Reasons You Should Be Eating Carbs

Maybe You Want To Lose Fat Or Gain Muscle Or Be Healthy

You just want to do the right thing and eat better. But with conflicting information about protein, you dont know what to think.

Or, if youre a fitness and nutrition coach, youre wondering how the heck to clear up the confusion about protein among your clients.

Lets get into it.In this article, well explore:

  • What are high-protein diets?
  • How much protein is right for me?

Claim: High Protein Causes Cancer

Unfortunately, we still dont have conclusive human studies on the cause of cancer and the role of protein.

There are studies that asked people how much protein they ate over their lifetime, and then looked at how often people got cancer. The research shows a connection between protein intake and cancer rates.

But these studies are correlational studies and dont prove that protein is the cause of cancers. Plus, some researchers have gone so far to say that studies relying on subjects to recall what they ate are basically worthless because human memory is so inaccurate.

A big part of the proposed cancer and protein link comes down to confounding factors, like:

  • where you get your protein from plant or animal
  • how you cook your protein
  • what types of protein youre eating

And so on.

In other words, we cant say that any particular amount of protein causes cancer.

Verdict: Limited evidence that protein causes cancer many other confounding factors.

A study from 2014 looked at protein and cancer risk. It was widely misinterpreted as proof that eating a lot of protein caused cancer.

First, it was actually two studies, one asking people questions and following them for years and one that fed mice a high-protein diet and implanted them with cancer.

With the human study, researchers looked at peoples self-reported protein intake and their rates of cancer over the following 18 years.

The second part of the study is where people really misunderstood what the study had proven.

Also Check: Best Protein Powder For Men Over 50

Why Might You Eat More Protein

Since we need protein to grow, maintain, and repair our tissues, hormones and immune system, there are times we need more protein.

The standard RDA of 0.8 g/kg is great if youre sedentary and not building or repairing your tissue.

But you may need more protein if you are:

  • physically active, either through workouts or your job
  • injured or sick
  • improve other indicators of cardiometabolic health.

Win all around.

Here are some specific scenarios that might call for more protein.

How Many Grams Of Protein A Day Is Unhealthy

How Much Protein Do I Need: Protein Myths Busted

According to the Dietary Reference Intake report for macronutrients, a sedentary adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. That means that the average sedentary man should eat about 56 grams of protein per day, and the average woman should eat about 46 grams.

Is high protein harmful?

For most healthy people, a high-protein diet generally isnt harmful, particularly when followed for a short time. Such diets may help with weight loss by making you feel fuller.

How much protein should a 180 pound man eat a day?

So a 180-pound guy who works out regularly needs about 80 grams of protein a day. Now, if youre trying to lose weight, protein is still crucial. The fewer calories you consume, the more calories should come from protein, says Layman.

How much protein should I eat in a day for weight loss?

If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight . Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram if aiming for weight loss.

Don’t Miss: Isopure Protein Drink Where To Buy

What You Can Eat

A high-protein diet generally recommends getting more than 20% of your total calories from protein. That typically means eating fewer calories from carbohydrates or fats to keep your calorie total in balance.

No foods are expressly forbidden on a high protein diet, but eating more lean proteins and fewer refined carbohydrates, sugars, and fats are recommended.

There is no suggested meal timing for a high-protein diet. However, some people on a high-protein plan also practice intermittent fasting, which involves restricting calories to specific days of the week and fasting on others, or going for extended periods without eating each day, such as 16 hours a day.

Protein Preserves Lean Body Mass

In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.

One study compared the effect of low protein intake to high protein intake on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg of muscle mass .

Another similar study compared 0.8 g/kg per day against 1.6 g/kg per day and 2.4 g/kg per day and found that the two higher intakes spared more lean body mass than the 0.8 g/kg per day diet. They also found that there was no real benefit to 2.4 g/kg per day over 1.6 g/kg per day .

Currently, most evidence suggests that ~1.6 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 grams of protein per pound is a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.

Also Check: Does Protein Give You Energy

Can Excess Protein Increase Glucose From Gng

GNG is an extremely stable process. Its not easy to increase it even with extra protein.

Gluconeogenesis doesnt work at the same rate as carbohydrate metabolism .

When you eat chocolate cake, your blood glucose quickly spikes in response to that sugar.

When you eat extra protein, your blood glucose doesnt spike the same way. Studies have shown that GNG production doesnt increase even with extra amino acids.

  • Gluconeogenesis is the process of creating internal glucose from non-carb sources, including protein.
  • Gluconeogenesis is necessary for survival.
  • Gluconeogenesis makes ketosis possible.
  • Eating too much protein wont increase the rate of gluconeogenesis.

But eating protein isnt just safe its necessary.

Unless Youre Going Really Hard On Protein You Probably Dont Have To Worry

Can TOO MUCH Protein Make You FAT?

The potential negative side effects of protein likely only happen if youre eating too much protein regularly and for an extended period of time. Going over the recommended daily amount every once in a while isnt something to worry about.

If youre eating a balance of protein, carbs, and fat at every meal, youre likely getting the protein that you need.

Read Also: High Protein Meats For Weight Loss

How Much Protein We Need

There are many elements to consider when determining just how much protein you need on a daily basis. For example, you need to take into account how often you squeeze in a sweat sesh and how your bodys digestion is functioning. That said, there are some overall guidelines. The RDA for protein for adult men and women is around 50 to 62 grams of protein per day. This will typically prevent any protein deficiencies, McMordie says.

Though thats a rough estimate, Culinary Health Solutions Chief Culinary Officer, Ken Immer notes. Most often, we hear about recommending protein in specific gram amounts per day. However, that can be misleading because it should be closely tied to your total calorie needs, rather than just an arbitrary number, he says. There is a wide range of recommendations when it comes to the ideal percentage of calories from protein. Ten percent being the absolute minimum. Experts arent certain of the maximum amount, but too much protein is linked with kidney disease, constipation, and cancer risk.

As a general rule, Immer recommends that men aim for 140 grams and women shoot for 110 grams per day. Thats more than the RDA, but still within safe limits. Why? Well, if you show these signs of protein deficiency, your health could suffer. But there can be negative effects if you go overboard.

Protein Always Comes First

The first step for successfully tracking your keto diet macros is to calculate your protein intake.

The amount will differ depending on the activity level per person.

If youre sedentary, consume 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass at a minimum.

Lean body mass is the amount of weight you carry that isnt fat. Use a bioelectrical impedance scale, calipers, or get a DEXA scan to find your lean body mass. Then take that weight and multiply it by 0.8. This is the amount of protein you should eat every day.

If youre an athlete or looking to build muscle, consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

This is the absolute minimum you should be eating. You can eat more if needed, and you shouldnt worry about creating excess glucose. Its more problematic to get less protein than it is to eat more.

Don’t Miss: Why Does The Body Need Protein

The Best Protein Sources For Your Heart

For a healthy heart, opt for low-fat, non-animal, non-dairy plant proteins, like what you get from legumes, beans, nuts, and lentils. Among animal proteins, choose those low in saturated fats like poultry or, even better, fatty fish like tuna or salmon, which is also rich in health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.27


Aim At Obtaining Only 1525 Percent Of Daily Calories From Protein

Are you eating too much protein ?? Not enough ??

Your body needs protein not just for caloric energy but for the amino acids, which help build and preserve muscles and tissues. Proteins can come from plant sources like peas, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy, or animal foods like eggs, dairy, poultry, meat, and seafood.20

The Recommended Dietary Allowance in the United States is 46g a day for women and 56g a day for men. More specifically, 0.8g of protein is recommended for every kilogram of body weight. So, a woman weighing 140 pounds and leading a sedentary life would need 53g of protein a day. If you compared that against daily caloric intake, you will be getting just 10 percent of your calories from protein. But then, thats the minimum protein you should be getting.

Harvard Health experts suggest that 15 to 25 percent of your total daily calories can come from protein. And the Dietary Guidelines For Americans have even raised the upper limit to as much as 35 percent. Exactly what percentage is best for each individual will depend on a variety of things, like your physical activity level and your medical background. On average, most Americans come closer to 16 percent.21

Don’t Miss: First Step Of Protein Synthesis

Claim: High Protein Causes Osteoporosis

Eating more protein without also upping your fruit and vegetable intake will increase the amount of calcium youll lose in your pee.

That finding made some people think that eating more protein will cause osteoporosis because youre losing bone calcium.

But there is no evidence that high protein causes osteoporosis.

If anything, not eating enough protein has been shown to cause bone loss. Bones arent just inert sticks of minerals a significant proportion of bone is also protein, mostly collagen-type proteins.

Like muscle, bone is an active tissue that is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. And like muscle, bone needs those Lego building blocks.

Women aged 55 to 92 who eat more protein have higher bone density. So eating more protein improves bone density in people most at risk of having osteoporosis.

Verdict: High protein diets do not cause osteoporosis, and actually may prevent osteoporosis.

Make Smart Choices When Consuming Protein

As we have attempted to answer the question ‘Can too much protein make you fat?’ we have seen that protein, in moderation, is an essential and valuable macronutrient.

Bonjour, Jean-Philippe. âDietary protein: an essential nutrient for bone health.â Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 24,6 Suppl : 526S-36S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2005.10719501
Westerterp-Plantenga, M S et al. âHigh protein intake sustains weight maintenance after body weight loss in humans.â International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 28,1 : 57-64. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802461
Publishing, Harvard Health. âWhen It Comes to Protein, How Much Is Too Much?â Harvard Health, 30 Mar. 2020, Original content published in May 2018.
Team, the Healthline Editorial. âCoronary Artery Disease Risk Factors.â Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 Sept. 2018,
Bernstein, Adam M et al. âMajor dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women.â Circulation vol. 122,9 : 876-83. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.915165

Don’t Miss: 3rd Party Tested Protein Powders

If You’re Trying To Lose Weight It’s More Important To Have A High

But while protein itself isnt harmful, many protein supplements are high in carbohydrates called Fodmaps that trigger digestive symptoms like bloating, gas and stomach pain. Stevenson advises reading labels carefully on supplements, bars and balls. Often, theyre very high in calories and contain huge amounts of carbs, often in form of sugar. You shouldnt necessarily think that because it says its high protein that its healthy, she says.

Weight loss

Protein has long been linked to weight loss, with low-carb, high-protein diets such as Paleo and Atkins promising to prolong the feeling of fullness. People fail to lose weight often because they feel hungry, and MRI studies have shown that a high-protein breakfast can help stop cravings later in the day.

There is sufficient evidence that protein is satiating, says Alex Johnstone of the University of Aberdeen. If youre trying to lose weight, its therefore more important to have a high-protein breakfast, such as beans on toast or a dairy smoothie, rather than to have supplements.

But she doesnt advocate Atkins-type diets and has found that cutting out carbohydrates has adverse affects on gut health .

Protein balls are often high in calories and can contain huge amounts of carbs

Instead, Johnstone recommends that overweight people eat a high-protein and moderate-carb diet, consisting of 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fat compared to the average diet of around 15% protein, 55% carbs and 30% fat.

Use It As A Supplement Not A Replacement

3 Protein Powder SCAMS To Avoid (WATCH OUT!)

Though protein powder can be a great addition to your diet, you dont need to consume it to be healthy.

Whole, protein-rich foods contain vitamins and minerals that are important for health. Whats more, they take longer to digest than protein powder, so they may make you feel full longer.

On the other hand, protein powder is considered predigested and will leave your stomach more quickly after you consume it than whole foods do .

Instead, use protein powder to supplement your balanced diet at times when you may not be able to meet your protein needs.


When shopping for a protein powder, look at the label to ensure the product has been third-party tested and doesnt contain any unwanted ingredients. Ideally, use protein powder in addition to a nutritious diet, not as a replacement for one.

Also Check: Meal Replacement Vs Protein Shake

Are You Getting Too Much Protein

Topics in this Post

Judging by all the protein bars, shakes and powders out there, you could be led to believe that you need a protein supplement. These products claim to curb appetite, help with weight loss and build muscle. But what’s the real story?

Contrary to all the hype that everyone needs more protein, most people in the U.S. meet or exceed their needs. This is especially true for males ages 1959. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 20202025 indicate that men in that age range are exceeding their protein recommendations, especially from meat, poultry and eggs. Even athletes often get more protein than they need without supplements because their calorie requirements are higher. With more food comes more protein.

Other Benefits Of Protein

Mentioned below are some ways in which protein is beneficial to our healthy existence:

1. Muscle Building

Protein supplement enhances muscle mass as well as strength and is also known to reduce muscle fatigue. Those resorting to resistance training would highly benefit from this factor and will be able to perform better. Also, it will be beneficial for everyone in the long run.

2. Weight Management

Protein-diet is a key factor that helps in weight reduction. It promotes dietary thermogenesis or in other words, it increases the energy level in the body after food intake so the person feels better energized and hence be able to work out better. Protein boosts satiety or the feeling of remaining full for longer time periods. It renders the muscles feeling metabolically active leading them to burn more calories daily.

Harmful Effects of A High Protein Diet

Taking too much protein can have adverse effects on ones health as mentioned below:

High protein diets are usually low in fibre as they restrict the intake of carbohydrates and so it can lead to constipation. Increasing the intake of water and keeping a check on ones bowel movement can help alter this.

High protein intake is usually stored in the body as fat when it is consumed in excess.

And, the weight loss associated by a high-protein diet is generally temporary. So over time, the stored fat contributes to weight gain especially if the calorie intake is increased to suffice protein consumption.

  • Loss of Calcium

Don’t Miss: Is Orgain Organic Protein Good

Related articles

Recommended Daily Intake Of Protein Fat And Carbohydrates

Daily Value Updates May Affect % Daily Value ...

How Many Grams Of Protein Per Meal

Protein Preserves Lean Body Mass ...

Protein For Women’s Weight Loss

Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder ...

Best Protein Smoothies For Weight Loss

Do Drinking Smoothies Really Burn Fat ...