Protein requirements for people that want the best health and body have always been a hotly contested topic.
There are the fear-mongers out there that think a little extra protein will hurt them and there are those that will eat all the extra protein they can in order to grow the lean tissue and muscle mass they desire.
So what is the deal with protein…can you eat too much?
Let’s take a look at the science-based research.
I don’t buy into any fitness guru’s “beliefs”, I look at the evidence to tell me the facts, cut through the hype and dispel the myths. I really enjoy researching the latest evidence and bringing the science to my readers and clients in a clear-cut, easy to understand way so they can benefit and achieve their goals.
Is too much protein harmful?
There is no research or data indicating that there is some amount of protein intake above which there would cause damage to an otherwise normally functioning human body.
Many people are concerned with kidney damage, but is there any scientific basis for this concern?
When looking at healthy populations; there is no evidence that demonstrates kidney damage from high protein diets.
We know that high protein diets can be a major part of lifestyle modifications aimed at losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and preventing insulin resistance.
Basically, protein doesn’t cause kidney damage and higher protein diets can help promote weight loss.
How much do we need?
The current recommendations or RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) are not concerned with building lean tissue, shedding body fat or enhancing physical performance.
While optimal protein intake varies depending on the person and situation, it seems one recommendation from the experts in protein research is that most individuals actually need more protein.
Most studies on post workout protein intake suggest that 20-25 grams of protein post workout is enough to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Then the scientists started digging further and asking questions like:
Does this apply to persons of all sizes?
What about their current training status and the type of exercise they perform?
A recent study used two groups that underwent a very rigorous training session. After the training session, one group consumed 20 grams and the other 40 grams of whey protein. Measurements of muscle protein synthesis were taken over the next 5 hours.
Results from this study showed that the rate of muscle protein synthesis was ~20% greater after consuming 40 grams of protein compared to 20 grams.
Does this mean 40 grams is what should be consumed post-workout? We don’t know because studies utilized 50 or 60 grams haven’t been done.
We do know that consuming 40 grams will result in more protein synthesis than consuming 25 grams.
Does aging matter?
When it comes to the role of protein and its ability to trigger muscle protein synthesis, older individuals require more than their younger counterparts do. In order to experience the same muscle protein synthesis, older individuals may need up to 40% more protein than younger individuals.
When people age, they usually tend to consume fewer calories along with less protein. This leads to greater net muscle protein breakdown, and greater muscle loss. Exactly the opposite effect we want as we age. It’s well known that muscle loss leads to increased risk of disease, and disability.
There isn’t any research-based evidence for harmful effects of eating too much protein. If you are interested in achieving a healthy, energetic and lean body; first class protein sources which include all the essential amino acids are a must and need to be a part of your meals.