Some people, such as athletes, may need more protein in their diet.
This article discusses the health benefits of protein, guidelines on how much protein to take, how to get more protein in your diet, and complications to watch out for.
A person’s protein requirements can change throughout life, based on age and activity level. nutrients Many recommended protein levels are aimed at preventing muscle mass loss.
However, simply preventing muscle loss is different than optimizing your protein intake.
Proteins are very important as they function as the building blocks of the body. Protein is key to:
Risks and Health Effects of Excess Protein
Overall, there is no clear scientific evidence that a high-protein diet is harmful in people without underlying medical conditions.
Indeed, a 2020 meta-analysis found that British Journal of Medicine We have presented compelling evidence that a high-protein diet is indeed associated with several health outcomes. That study found that people who ate a high-protein diet from both animal and plant sources actually had lower mortality rates. , morbidity and mortality were even lower.
People with kidney disease may need to avoid high-protein diets.If your kidneys aren’t working properly, it’s more difficult for your body to use protein correctly.According to the American Kidney Foundation, People with impaired kidneys can leak protein into their urine, which can lead to symptoms such as:
1 Study of 2020 American Journal of Nephrology It suggests that long-term intake of a high-protein diet may be associated with metabolic problems in people with pre-existing renal impairment.
However, the study also found that there is no clear evidence that eating large amounts of protein is dangerous for healthy people. I also explained that there is no
Eating a high-protein diet that is not balanced with other nutrients or suddenly switching to a high-protein diet without an underlying disorder can cause symptoms. These symptoms include:
It is important to maintain a balanced diet while increasing protein levels. Some popular diets that promote high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, can lead to nutritional deficiencies in some people.
Recommended protein intake
A standard recommendation is for healthy adults to consume at least 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. However, many adults may actually need more than 0.8 g/kg for optimal health.
For example, athletes may need to consume more protein each day. International Society of Sports Nutrition Athletes should consume between 1.4 and 2 g/kg daily, with some athletes requiring more than 3 g/kg.
A 2016 review also stated that older adults should consume between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg of protein daily to minimize or prevent age-related loss of muscle mass.
Protein needs vary by medical condition, age, and level of physical activity. Talk to your doctor about your own protein needs.
Benefits of a high protein diet
Eating a high-protein, well-balanced diet within recommended servings may benefit your overall health.
- Reduce appetite and hunger levels: Replacing some of the carbs and fat with protein suppresses appetite and reduces hunger hormones.
- Increase muscle mass and strength: Consuming more protein can help you build muscle mass and maintain strength during training.
- Helps maintain muscle while losing fat: Eating high-protein foods can reduce fat mass while maintaining muscle mass.
- Help your body heal injuries: Protein is a building block of the body, so increasing your protein intake will help your body heal more efficiently.
High-protein diet safety
Most people can safely consume the recommended amount of protein.
Those who use higher energy levels throughout the day may benefit from consuming more protein. This may include people who have a demanding job.
When to avoid a high-protein diet
People with pre-existing kidney disease should discuss their protein levels with their health care professional.
Diabetics should also discuss major dietary changes with their health care professional. Drastic changes in diet can affect blood sugar levels.
How to choose a healthy protein
Many healthy proteins are available. Eating a variety of proteins will help you get more of the nutrients you need. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating protein from both animal and plant sources, as well as subgroups of eggs, nuts and soy products.
When choosing animal protein, choose lean or low-fat meats such as lean ground beef, pork loin, and skinless chicken breast.
For seafood, choose foods high in healthy fatty acids and low in mercury, such as anchovies, salmon, and trout.
For vegans, many food plant-based sources, such as beans, peas, and whole grains, contain large amounts of protein.
Healthy protein choices to choose from include:
- soy products
Read more about healthy protein sources.
Eating a high-protein diet has several health benefits. However, some people, such as those with kidney problems, are at risk of consuming too much protein.
It’s best to get your protein from a variety of sources, including animals and plants. These may include lean beef, chicken, eggs, seafood, beans, and lentils. If you switch to a protein-rich diet, you should talk to your doctor about how much protein to eat and which foods are best for you.