How much protein is too much?
September 17, 2018
Posted by Simply GOODFATS
Consuming high fat and low carb natural foods has been the central focus of our discussion on diet thus far. While the concept of “high” and “low” are relatively easy to understand, what if we told you that a third macronutrient should be consumed in “moderate” amounts if your goal is to achieve fat burning? We’re talking about protein. We know what you’re thinking… first you needed to make sure you limited carb intake, then you had to adjust to the fact that fat is good for your health, and now you’re told that you have to curb protein consumption? We will get into what a moderate amount of protein looks like and why is it important to not overload on this macronutrient.
First, let’s discuss why it is important not to consume too much protein. Protein is essential for the body for a number of reasons: repair and create new muscle, burn fat, create hormones, support the metabolism and maintain skin and nail health. The issue with protein is when we consume too much, especially if your goal is to burn fat. Once protein exceeds the body’s demand for the vital functions outlined above, the remaining protein will be converted into glucose energy through a process called gluconeogenesis. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this process occurring, however, if our goal is to burn fat we want the body to be using fat and ketones as an energy source and not glucose.
Another issue with high levels of protein consumption involves longevity and aging. Studies currently suggest that prolonged high protein intake might reduce longevity through the triggering of the IGF-1/mTOR signaling pathway. This pathway occurs during high consumption periods of protein and tells the body to build and repair cells simultaneously. This obviously sounds beneficial; however, the cells are not meant to do both simultaneously so when this occurs, the body is continually attempting to synthesize new cells to the detriment of the overall renewal process. It is thought that this continual renewal process triggered by the IGF-1/mTOR pathway actually accelerates aging.
So what is the correct amount of protein for you? It will vary by person but the general guideline is the following:
Maximum: Weight (lbs) X 0.36 (grams of protein)
Minimum: Weight (lbs) X 0.36 (grams of protein) / 2
For example, if you weigh 170 pounds then your daily intake of protein should be between 30.6g and 61.2g with probably an ideal intake around 45g per day. To give you an idea of how much protein that is, here is a chart of common sources of protein:
For those who are physically active, over the age of 40, or nursing an injury, protein levels can be raised some; however, this general range tends to be optimal for most individuals and, as you can see from the chart, is very easy to overshoot.
The goal with protein consumption when utilizing a high-fat diet is to provide the body with the essential proteins required to promote repair and growth but not allow the body to utilize protein as fuel. By staying within your protein range you can maximize the benefits provided by protein while still allowing your body to burn fat.