What is it? Why do we need it? Is there a thing as TOO MUCH Protein?

After every training session and groupX class that I teach, I tell my peeps, "make sure you get your protein within an hour after your workout so your muscles can be happy!".  

I can not stress enough to my fellow workout warriors how important protein is to your body.  Protein is one of the 3 marconutrients needed in order to stay healthy (the other two are carbohydrates and fat).  Protein is necessary for maintaining the body's normal growth, it's muscle mass, immune system, heart and respiratory functions.

Protein deficiency is generally  not a problem in the United States but in other parts of the world, it is.  Chronic protein deficiency can result in death which is one of the dangers of anorexia.  (Protein  Endurance athletes and high level fitness folk need to make sure to consume enough protein to account for their body's structural needs and to help build new muscle tissue.  

There can be some dangers in over-consuming protein but remember, this is if you are exceeding your daily need considerably.  The first sign of too much protein is dehydration and I have been guilty of this one.  When you exercise, you obviously sweat and that takes a lot of fluids from your body.  You have to stay hydrated and consume a lot of water.  Another sign of over-consumption would be high calcium levels that can come from purified protein products.  The phosphate in the food prevents the calcium from being excreted (Lemon, 1997).  So, if you are concerned, check with your doctor.

What is the right amount of protein for you? One way is to take your current weight, divide it in half and then subtract 10 from that number.  This will give you an average of how many grams of protein you should take daily.  OR you can check out the chart below, be honest and determine your "Activity Level".  Multiply the suggested number by your weight.  For example my daughter is a growing teenage athlete.  She is 95 pounds (95 lbs X 0.7 or 0.9) which means she will need 67-85 grams of protein daily.  Teenagers need more protein to support their bone and muscle development.

Protein Recommendations (Clark, 2008)

Activity LevelGrams of protein/
lb of body weight
Grams of protein/
kg of body weight
Sedentary adult0.40.8
Recreational exerciser, adult0.5-0.71.0-1.5
Endurance athlete, adult0.6-0.71.2-1.6
Growing teenage athlete0.7-0.91.5-2.0
Adult building muscle mass0.7-0.81.5-1.7
Athlete restricting calories0.8-0.91.8-2.0
Estimated upper requirement for adults0.92.0

If you have more questions about your protein intake consult your local doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer.  

Posted on May 11, 2012 .