For most people, eating enough protein per day can be a struggle. But what about eating too much protein? Is there such a thing? What happens when you consume too much protein?
Can you have too much protein?
Yes, it is possible to consume too much protein. When you consume more protein than your body needs, the excess calories are turned into fat and stored within the body. You can't store extra amino acids or protein for later use, so the amino acids are simply excreted through urine and wasted. Therefore, there is absolutely no point consuming more protein than you need to.
But what happens when you do go overboard? If you are eating far too much protein, there is a good chance you won't be eating enough carbs. This means not enough fibre and nutrients from fruit and vegetables. You may also be lacking sugar which promotes healthy brain function.
How many grams of protein a day is too much?
Guidelines state that an adult man should take in a minimum of 10% of his daily calories from protein. This equates to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, so a 12 stone (168lbs) man would need roughly 60g of protein per day.
However, for athletes and people who are very active, this can rise to up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight; so if this 12 stone man was an active bodybuilder or triathlete, he may need up to 168g of protein per day to meet the needs of his muscles.
If you live a sedentary lifestyle whereby you work an office job and only do a limited amount of exercise, you won't need that much protein in your diet. Eating healthy, lean protein sources each day like chicken, turkey, eggs, and nuts and seeds part of a balanced diet will be all you need to achieve your protein needs. Unless you train a lot, you shouldn't need to add protein shakes into your daily diet. For more information on dietary supplements, read our article on the top 5 supplements for beginners. If you think that drinking protein shakes can help you lose weight, read our article which answers the question of should I use protein shakes to lose weight.
Is it bad if you eat too much protein?
As with everything, too much is a bad thing and it's best to have everything in moderation. Consuming too much protein really isn't an issue many people need to worry about, however if you do think you're consuming too much, there are negative implications. The main negative effect of consuming too much protein is weight gain, however there are other side effects such as dehydration and kidney problems.
The health implications of not eating enough protein are actually worse than consuming too much. If you don't think you're eating enough protein, here are 3 easy ways anyone can get more protein into their diet.
What're the signs you're eating too much protein?
As mentioned above, any excess protein you consume will be tuned into fat and stored in the body. If you are eating too much protein you are probably eating too many calories, which will always result in weight gain.
The body has to use more water to flush out the excess protein from your body, so if you consume too much protein you will end up dehydrated. If you feel dehydrated despite drinking plenty of water, it could be a sign of consuming too much protein. Always make sure you're drinking plenty of water, especially if you train a lot. Up to 3 litres a day is optimal.
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from your body. By consuming too much protein on a regular basis, you could damage your kidneys by over-exerting them. You would have to eat far too much protein for a very long time to do any real damage to your kidneys, though, so it's not something many people need to worry about.