Too Much Protein Can Make You Fat and 4 More Things You Need to Know

September 05, 2014

Are you unsure how much protein your body requires? Are you eating too much or too little? Find out here and 4 more things you need to know...

Protein, protein, protein – it’s central to the Paleo eating trend and many nutrition experts say it’s one of the best ways to keep you satisfied, your mind sharp, your muscles fed, and helps to control weight. Atkins made protein (and fat) famous and today we’re seeing front of package labels boast protein content in everything from cereal to yogurt and of course nutrition bars.

According to the NPD Group, consumers want more protein, even though they may be unsure how to get it. In fact, data showed that 62 percent of US adults make a point of consuming plenty of protein yet the NPD Group found that 71 percent are unable to identify the recommended daily amount of protein. 

Are you unsure how much protein your body requires? Find out here and 4 more things you need to know.

How much should you have? The truth is, there is no strict recommendation on protein needs, as it depeneds on how active you are. For the average adult the USDA recommends 46g for females and 56g for males, which is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight a day.

What does protein do? Protein is necessary to build and repair all cells, including making sure the immune system is functioning properly. Protein also helps produce enzymes, which are necessary for all reactions in the body, not just digestion! Protein can also be used as fuel, and at 4 calories per gram it’s a lower calorie choice!

Are you getting too much? Here are three ways to tell: gaining weight? If you've added more protein without cutting calories in other areas, you may find yourself gaining weight. TIME reported on a study that found that people assigned a high-protein diet gained the same amount of fat as people assigned a low-protein, high fat diet when they overate. Excess calories are excess calories! Interestingly, the high-protein eaters gained more lean body mass, like muscle. Kidney issues: The kidneys take care of filtering of waste products made when our bodies digest protein; there's some evidence to suggest that diets higher in protein put a greater strain on the kidneys. Dehydration: A study found that as protein intake increased hydration went down, likely because the body has to use more water to flush out that additional nitrogen. Make sure to drink more water!

Best sources: Animal products are some of the highest protein content foods, like chicken, turkey, fish, beef, shrimp, lamb, scallops, eggs, and sardines. But then there’s soybeans, nuts and nut butters, legumes, as well as dairy products like milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese that are all excellent sources. All veggies have a little protein so you’re sure to get protein with almost any nutrient-dense food you choose.

Current consumption: Despite protein showing up on more food labels, many of us are already getting way more than our 46 or 56 grams. In fact, men ages 20 plus get an average of 98.9 grams of protein a day, and women ages 20 plus get 68 grams, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's What We Eat In America