There are a lot of people at the gym, grocery store or hair salon who will tell you definatively how much and what kind of protein YOU should be eating/drinking on a daily basis, to prepare for or recover from your recent workout. Just to be clear…just because someone speaks with a voice of authority does not mean they know what they are talking about.
Don’t get me wrong. Protein is good. We all need it. Ninety-nine percent of us can get the kind and amount of protein we need from regular, every-day food. The fact is too much protein is not good. Unfortunately, it is one of those things you will not know how bad it is for you, until it is too late.
So, here are a few real nutrition facts about protein:
1. More is not necessarily better. Extra protein in our diet is converted to fat and waste. Hear me? FAT and WASTE. A high protein, low carbohydrate diet causes your body to burn your own fat for energy. This might sound good, but it results in ketosis which long-term is dangerous. In addition, the weight loss is not long-term. It will come back as soon as you start eating a normal amount of protein, carbs and fat. Eating a 30gm protein bar or drink at one time is NOT beneficial, for most people.
2. How much protein do you really need? If you are a healthy and moderately active adult, you need approximately 45-65 gm protein per day. This is about the amount you would eat in 2-3 (3-oz serving = 21gm protein) of meat with one or two servings of milk, yogurt, cheese. Your requirements will be higher if you are pregnant, nursing or recovering from an illness, surgery or injury. Requirements may also be higher for weight lifters and endurance (marathoners) athletes.
3. It is true that protein is key for weight loss. However, the initial weight loss experienced with a high protein diet is just water loss. Losing water weight, if you are healthy, is not the goal. Protein takes longer to be digested in your stomach, so combined with some carbohydrate (especially fiber) and fat, will keep you full longer than a meal or snack with no protein. It is the combination of all three nutrients that will help with weight management.
So, enough about protein for one day. I could go on for pages, but you woudn’t want to read it. If you have general questions about protein, I’ll try to answer them. Please keep in mind, this is just basic info. It is not my intent to tell you what you should be doing, but to give you some actual facts. If you want nutrtional counseling or learn how many calories, protein, etc. you should be consuming, I suggest you consult with your doctor or RDN.