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The truth about protein

Caveman diet

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.

The overload may be at it's peak at the gym. We have been trained to believe that walking around with a vat of protein shake is the best way to build muscle. In reality, the body can only process 25 grams of protein at a time. Also know that timing is key: consuming 25 grams within 30 minutes of your workout is the optimal way to get the most out of your protein.

How much is too much?

The fact is – you can, indeed, consume too much protein.

On top of your 25 grams after your workout, you should aim for 25 grams of protein with each meal. Anythioong more than that is not only a waste, but could also lead to nasty side effects.

“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.”

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.

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