Having been vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and an omnivore…I have been all over the protein debate. Yes, you need it. Yes, you can totally get enough protein from plants. But lately, I’ve been running into what seems to be the million dollar question: how much protein is too much?
How Much Is Too Much Protein?
I mean we all need protein. It’s not like it’s optional. Protein is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. And it’s critical for your health. Seriously!!
Without protein, your body can’t repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, and or be happy.
And there’s quite a bit of research that indicates that following a high protein diet can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Plus, eating protein may help boost metabolism and it definitely helps you feel full.
Minimum Daily Requirements
For all my research, I honestly didn’t find anything definitive.
There are a lot of different opinions out there.
What I did find are general recommendations, such as eating 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body mass, per day.
Yes, we’re going to have to math. I’m sorry.
Let’s break this down. If you weigh 150 pounds, that means that you need approximately 55 grams of protein each day.
And that’s the minimum.
Consuming less could lead to a protein deficiency, which is just as fun as it sounds. Protein deficiency can lead to feeling tired, flaky skin, and even hair loss (though your deficiency would have to be extreme).
What You Should Know
A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. And just like any other calorie (think carbohydrates and fat), eating too much protein can cause problems (like weight gain).
Unlike fats or carbohydrates, protein has something called a thermic effect. That means that your body needs to spend MORE energy (burn more calories) to digest protein than other types of calories.
As long as you aren’t eating an excess of calories, protein should help your weight loss, not hinder it.
- 3.5 ounces of chicken breast has 31 gram of protein
- 3.5 ounces of salmon has 20 grams of protein
- ½ a cup of cooked beans contains 6-9 grams of protein, depending on the type of bean
- One large egg contains 6 grams of protein
- ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 grams of protein, depending on the type of nut
- A medium baked potato contains 3 grams of protein
Obviously, protein is essential for your body to function the way it’s supposed to.
But many of us have trouble getting “enough” grams of protein in our diets on a regular basis.
I love using my Fitbit app to track everything even my “macros” which is just fancy-speak for macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
As with anything, too much is not a good thing, so watch your intake and make sure that you’re at least at the minimum.
If you need extra help, you can add a protein shake in after a workout to help boost the amount of protein that you’re ingesting as well as help your recovery.
I think that lean muscle mass should be taken into account when calculating how much protein is needed. Both my mother and I weigh in around 160lbs, but she’s a size 16 and I’m a size 6. Difference? I have a much higher muscle mass, and would think I need to eat to maintain that!