Protein is everywhere. It's in many of the foods you already eat, and it’s also available to you in an ever-expanding variety of supplements. Even grocery store shelves are packed with protein bars, shakes and powders – it seems to never end.
Specialty nutrition shops want you to think that you’re doing your body a favor by adding protein.
But is the reality that you’re really on protein overload?
“Most people have a diet that adequately fills the protein requirements without the need for added supplementation” says Virtua registered dietitian Bryony Crane, RD, CDE. “While it’s typically associated with meat, protein is also found in poultry, fish, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, grains, some dairy products and vegetables.” The amount of protein in each may vary but, over the course of a day, it certainly adds up.
Certainly, there are times to boost protein intake to help meet fitness goals, for wound healing or following bariatric surgery. However, most diets, even well-planned vegetarian or vegan diets, don’t require protein supplementation.
How much is too much?
The fact is – you can, indeed, consume too much protein.
“Going crazy with protein supplements can result in extra demand on your kidneys,” says Crane. “Too much protein in your diet also can affect your heart, lead to deficiencies in other nutrients, and even contribute to weight gain.”
To get the ideal amount, a 150-pound adult woman should get about 55 grams per day, while the average 180–pound man should aim for 65 grams. For context, a 1-ounce portion of meat contains roughly 7 protein grams.
For advice on how you can eat a healthy diet that’s tailored to you and your nutrition needs, it’s best to see a registered dietitian who can help you come up with a plan.