Protein: How Much Do You Need?
Is there such a thing as too much protein? If you ask most people, the answers would range from “I don’t know” to “no”. The reason for this is because of how protein is presented to us in our everyday lives. There are many products and diet trends that emphasis protein, pushed through various mediums relentlessly. So, for the sake of clarity let’s take a closer look at protein.
What is Protein?
Amino acid is a subunit of protein. There are 20 different amino acids bond together to form a long chain structure molecule in our body which is known as Protein. Thus, amino acids are called as the building block of protein. Generally, protein is used to build muscle, make new cells and repair damaged tissue cells as well as organs in our body. Protein also serves as an important transporter of materials and is used in the production of antibodies, enzymes and hormones. Protein, for short, is very important to the body but over-consumption can have detrimental effects.
When one is accustomed to eat high protein and low carbohydrate diet, if one over consumes protein, this will increase the uric acid level and urea in blood which cause the acidity in blood to increase. Uric acid and urea are the break down by products of protein.
Excess amount of uric acid in blood will lead to loss of essential minerals and inflammation. These essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium all act as neutralisers in keeping our body maintain its alkaline blood pH of 7.4. In this situation, calcium from bones will bind with uric acid before excess uric acid excretes from kidney. Calcium loss leads to osteoporosis as it functions mainly for the development of bones in body.
Protein, especially animal protein, is notoriously difficult to digest. The primary cause of this difficulty is based on our nutrient deficient diets. Without proper amount of vitamins and zinc, the body is heavily taxed to breakdown proteins to amino acid components and utilise them efficiently.
If you have been to a gym or health food store, you would have seen many protein products, most of which aimed at people who want to build muscles, you know the ones in huge containers just waiting for pre and post workout consumption. Athletes and body builders have chased protein dreams of greatness mostly unaware of basic biological facts.
Consider this point as illustrated in “The New Optimum Nutrition Bible”: The body requires less than 2 lbs. of protein per year to gain 9 lbs. of muscle (muscle is approximately 22% protein). That averages to about 2.5g of protein per day. You can get that much protein from just a few almonds. The inability to build muscle is seldom due to a lack of protein. Most often the lack of essential vitamins and minerals such as B3, B6 and zinc are to blame.
Burden up Kidney
Too much of protein concentration in the blood causes extra burden for the kidney to filter it. Kidney stones can form when there is too high protein level in blood for a long duration.
How Much Protein is Needed?
The recommended amount of protein consumption is approximately 10-35% of total calories consumed during the day. That’s about 35g for most people. Another point to consider is the quality of the protein. Quality proteins are more easily digested and assimilated into the body.
Typically, protein of higher quality can be found in vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Besides that you can get protein from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products but animal products are not an ideal source of protein due to heart disease and stroke. Most of the protein from animal sources are meats and poultry which are high in bad cholesterol.
When cholesterol level increase, the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases is greater. Furthermore, protein required each day is different from gender and age. Following is the amount of protein needed daily:
Lastly, kindly think twice before consuming excess volume of protein. Excess protein level will indirectly affect uric acid inflammation, osteoporosis, indigestion and burden up your kidney.