Is Protein Overhyped?

I need to eat animals for protein! I'm not getting enough protein in my diet! PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN... Let's go over one of the most over-hyped need in nutrition. 

Before I get into how much protein you really need let's talk about what protein does for the body. I know many of you are thinking it builds muscles.


Actually, no. When you eat protein your digestive system breaks down the protein and delivers the separated amino acids to the body's cells. Now the body takes those amino acids and uses them to make proteins either for itself or the circulatory system. So, why do you need protein? You need it to supply the amino acids from which the body can make its own proteins- it's a building material. The body will make it's own proteins to repair cells, build tissue, regulate enzymes/hormones/antibodies/fluid balance/transportation, and energy. 

Ok, now that we have cleared that up let's get into why everyone thinks they need ALL the protein!

I'm not sure what industry decided to push the idea that we aren't getting enough protein- beef, pork, and/or dairy. They are doing a fantastic job of making people question every day if they are getting enough. I think it's a safe assumption that there are more people walking around on the street who think they need more protein in their diet than carbohydrates. Oh, those silly people!

First, let's go over what it would feel like if you truly did have a protein deficiency. You would experience some of the following:

  • A sluggish metabolism.

  • Trouble losing weight.

  • Trouble building muscle mass.

  • Low energy levels and fatigue.

  • Poor concentration and trouble learning.

  • Moodiness and mood swings.

  • Muscle, bone and joint pain.

  • Blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes.

Now, I know some of you saw this list and thought to yourself, "This is the reason I'm not losing weight! I need more protein"! Slow down killer! Let's get through this post and then you decide if that is true or not. 

How much protein do you truly need in your daily diet? There has been information floating around for a while that you need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But, according to Harvard health, that is not true. The minimum protein amount you need is 10% of your weight. However the average American is eating 16%-35% of their weight in protein. 35% of protein in your diet should be the maximum you ever consider taking in. You can experience protein toxicity if you take in more than that. 

On average women are taking in 60-65 grams of protein daily. Women need 46 grams at a maximum. Men taking in 75-85 grams of protein daily. 56 grams is the maximum recommended.  

You may be thinking, so what? Why does it matter if I eat 35% of my weight in protein? Well, if you're eating 35% of your weight in protein, and eating the proportionate amount of carbs and fats, then you are more than likely taking in too many calories. In order to maintain your proper calories you will need to decrease carbs or fats. Now, that may sound fine to you, but if you are getting almost all of your protein from animals then it is impossible to decrease your fats while increasing your proteins. Further, if you are decreasing your carbs then you are depriving your body.


When dietitians recommended eating 10%-35% of your weight in protein they assumed people would incorporate plants and animals as sources of protein. However, most people only consider eating animals and there in lies the problem of gaining weight and having an unbalanced diet from the protein obsession.

Now, I know you just thought to yourself, "plants have protein?". YES. Plants are the perfect source of nutrients. They all have fat, carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Take peas for example, 9 grams of protein in a serving. If you want to increase your protein in a healthy way incorporate more plants!

So does more protein mean weight loss? If the protein is from animals-No.  What have we learned? 

  1. Your body doesn't need as much protein as you think it does.

  2. You may be causing yourself to gain weight if your proteins only come from animals.

  3. Protein doesn't build muscles it contributes amino acids

  4. INCORPORATE MORE PLANTS, DANG IT!

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