Thanks to all the latest weight loss plans promoting high protein diets, you could be wondering what happens if you take too much protein. In this article, I will discuss the importance of protein in our everyday diets as well as recommended protein level guidelines.
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What exactly is protein?
Protein is one of a complex group of molecules that do all kinds of jobs in your body. They make up your hair, nails, bones, and muscles. Why protein is important is that it gives tissues and organs their shape and also helps them work the way they should. In short, protein is one of the building blocks that make you into who you are.
Eating protein before or after workout
Protein plays an important role in repairing and rebuilding your muscles after exercise, and many people use protein shakes after their workouts to aid this process. I personally love protein powder pancakes.
However, research suggests it doesn’t matter whether you drink a protein shake before or after your workout. Interestingly, your total daily protein grams per day intake is what matters most.
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While protein shakes around workouts and between meals are helpful, make sure you’re getting enough throughout the day. Both foods and supplements can be added to your protein list to help you meet your goals.
For healthy people, there are little or no health risks associated with using protein shakes while following a high-protein diet.
Benefit of eating protein
Are you getting enough protein in your diet? While you may watch your calories and macros, sugar and salt intake, you should also make sure you are ingesting enough protein. For instance, there are 35 grams of protein 4 oz chicken breast and 6 grams of protein 1 egg.
Protein plays a vital part in the creation and maintenance of every cell in our bodies. It fuels our cells and powers our bodies.
It is important for individuals to consume the proper amount of protein grams per day. Daily protein intake plays a role in keeping your cells in good shape and should be part of your daily health maintenance plan.
Protein is made up of amino acids, also known as building blocks. It is also considered a “macronutrient,” because you need large amounts of it to stay healthy.
Why protein is important?
Humans cannot survive without all nine essential amino acids. Eating an adequate amount of protein grams per day is essential to building strong bones, and body tissues, such as muscles, however, protein does much more than that.
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Protein is involved in practically every process of a cell. It plays a part in metabolic reactions, immune response, protein provides a source of energy, assists in cellular repair, form blood cells, and more.
What foods to eat to gain muscles?
The goal for competitive bodybuilders is to increase muscle mass in the bulking phase and reduce body fat in the cutting phase.
One thing to keep in mind – If your weight stays the same, the daily number of calories you eat is your maintenance calories — in other words, you’re not losing or gaining weight, but maintaining it.
The foods you eat don’t need to differentiate between the bulking and cutting phase — typically, it’s only the amounts that do.
Foods to eat include (National Library of Medicine):
- Meats, poultry and fish: Sirloin steak, ground beef, pork tenderloin, venison, chicken breast, salmon, tilapia and cod.
- Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat milk and cheese.
- Grains: Bread, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn and rice.
- Fruits: Oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, watermelon and berries.
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, green lima beans and cassava.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, leafy salad greens, tomatoes, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, peppers and mushrooms.
- Seeds and nuts: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds.
- Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.
- Oils: Olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocado oil.
What macros for weight loss work best?
Each macro is used a little differently by the body, and understanding how each one supports your daily health and fitness needs is key:
- Carbs are your preferred source of quick energy, and excess carbs can be stored in your muscles for fuel or as body fat.
- Fat is your source of long-term energy, used as immediate fuel or stored as body fat.
- Protein is the builder macro, used to build and maintain a majority of the cells throughout your body, including your DNA, bones, and muscle mass – any excess protein can be used as energy or stored as body fat.
Protein is the most unique of all macros because it is not a preferred source of energy and is the least likely to be stored as body fat.
Do protein shakes suppress appetite? Protein also helps maintain your lean muscle, takes more energy to digest, and is thought to help control hunger and reduce cravings.
Here is an easy-to-use macro calculator that shows your optimal macronutrients and calories based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level.
It serves as a weight loss calculator or a muscle gain calculator. Use your results with macro dieting, flexible dieting, or IIFYM to reach your goals faster.
How much protein do women need?
According to the Dietary Reference Intake report for macronutrients, an average adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. Hence, the protein requirements for women on average are about 46 grams, which comes out to about one cup of diced chicken.
Does protein grow muscles? How much protein do men need?
According to Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D., who studies exercise and nutrition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, highly trained athletes thrive on 0.77 grams of daily protein per pound of body weight. That’s 139 grams for a 180-pound man.
Men who work out 5 or more days a week for an hour or longer need 0.55 grams per pound. So a 180-pound guy who works out regularly needs about 80 grams of protein a day. Some sources recommend state the protein needed to gain muscle is closer to 1 gram of protein per pound of body.
Eating protein for weight loss
A higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones and reduces your overall hunger, which lowers your daily calorie consumption.
Because protein has a much higher thermic effect, a high protein diet tends to boost metabolism.
Protein can have a large effect on both cravings and the desire to snack at night. Again, protein makes you feel fuller longer, resulting in less hunger and overall reduced calorie consumption.
Eating protein only
As crazy as it sounds, yes, you can lose weight while eating steak, burgers, cheese, and bacon. High-protein, low-carb plans like Atkins and the Zone are very effective. However, you should consider the pros and cons before you decide to try one.
Women need at least 46 grams of protein a day — men about 70-80 grams per day. With a high-protein diet, it can be much more than that. This extra protein can come from beans, meat, nuts, grains, eggs, seafood, cheese, or vegetarian sources like soy. These diets often restrict carbs like cereals, grains, fruits, and possibly vegetables.
When you eliminate carbohydrates, you lose weight quickly because you lose water. With these extra carbs, the body begins burning more fat for fuel, which can lead to ketosis.
Ketosis may make losing weight easier because you feel less hungry. This can cause temporary headaches, irritability, nausea, bad breath, and sleeping problems for some people.
The best high-protein diet plans focus on lean proteins and include some carbs. Avoid huge servings of fatty meats and make sure to include vegetables.
Can protein shakes cause constipation?
In some people, protein powders can cause constipation and/or bloating based on the type of protein and sugars used.
If constipation is the issue, using a protein powder with fiber may help. If you experience bloating, it may be that you are sensitive to lactose (milk sugar). Be sure to carefully read the ingredient labels.
Many whey protein isolate formulas add an over-the-counter lactase supplement. So be sure to read the labels if you are experiencing discomfort.
Some people have reported using a blender to mix the protein powder causes the problem of gas.
Consider using a shaker bottle to mix your meal replacement by hand. This will reduce the amount of air in the drink and help with gas.
Which is the best protein powder?
You don’t need to be a hard-core gym-goer to use protein powder in your diet. It’s true that it helps build muscle, but the right protein powder is capable of doing much more.
Protein is an important macronutrient that boosts your immune system, keeps your internal organs functioning properly, and helps control your appetite.
With so many options out there, this is really a topic for an entire article. The two major categories are plant-based protein and animal-based protein.
Next are the sub-categories of protein powder:
- Protein concentrates: Contain 60 to 80 percent protein, with the remaining 20 to 40 percent being fat and carbohydrates. They’re created by using heat and acid or enzymes on whole foods to extract the protein.
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- Protein isolates: Contain less fat and carbs. Protein isolate powders contain 90 to 95 percent protein.
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A whey hydrolysate will be advantageous to attenuate muscle damage and replenish glycogen quickly so that you enjoy a full recovery much quicker than with other types of whey.
However, if you’re looking for a cheap protein, training just once-twice per week and you’ve got plenty of time in between workouts to allow your muscles to naturally rebuild, then whey concentrate or isolate is an option you can stick to.
If you’re dieting, choosing a whey hydrolysate post-workout will be advantageous to promote recovery in the presence of limited carbohydrates. It will help you maximize the muscle-building response with fewer calories, since it has a significantly higher leucine content compared to whey isolate.
If you’re looking to increase your endurance and feel the effects of your high-intensity workouts, the choice is obviously a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate.
What is the best protein meat to bodybuilding?
When considering what foods are protein rich, chicken and fish are bodybuilding staples, due to their high nutrient profile and low fat. However, every so often you want to let stick your fork into a thick piece of steak.
Let’s remember, beef is high in protein and other nutrients that are essential to an active body. However, depending on the cut you choose, steak can quickly go from a best-in-show bodybuilding food to one of the worst choices you can make due to the calories and saturated fat.
Whether you’re eating at your favorite steakhouse or choosing a cut from your local butcher, it pays to know your cuts of beef, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake to get lean.
The most flavorful cut of beef is typically the one with the highest levels of saturated fat and calories.
Whether you’re looking to build muscle or burn fat, one of the main sources of protein for bodybuilders tends to be skinless chicken breast.
You always see a bodybuilder eating chicken breast from their plate, Tupperware, or whether they go out for dinner simply because it is loaded with protein with very little fat or carbs.
No lean protein has a more respected reputation than chicken breast. Specifically boneless, skinless chicken breasts have consistently been at the top of the list of lean proteins to eat for fat loss.
In addition to being a fat-burning powerhouse, ½ chicken breast has just 142 calories and just 3 grams of fat.
What happens if you take too much protein?
People should normally eat 2 g of protein per kg of their body weight daily, long-term, without any significant side effects.
Some people, such as elite athletes, may be able to eat as much as 3.5 g per kg of body weight daily without any side effects.
Some research has shown eating more than 2 g per kg of body weight daily of protein for a prolonged period of time can cause health problems.
Symptoms associated with too much protein include:
- digestion problems
Additionally, some serious risks associated with eating too much protein include:
- heart disease
- blood vessel disorders
- liver and kidney injuries
- colon cancer