This is a question that plays on the minds of many athletes. Some believe it’s not possible to have too much while others believe you have to consume a certain amount every single day in order to achieve optimal muscle growth. From bodybuilders to competitive athletes everyone needs protein to repair their muscles, help them heal and to grow stronger.
Protein is also needed for a number of different reactions in the body from enzyme activity to, cell renewal, and your hair skin and nails need it to grow healthy and strong for life.
Is there really such a thing as too much protein? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
How much protein does an athlete need?
If you are a keen gym enthusiast, bodybuilder or athlete you can benefit from consuming a plentiful supply of protein, matched to your bodies requirements.
The standard formula to work out out how much you need is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 g/kg of BW) each day and this has been a staple rule of bodybuilding for decades. Slightly higher levels of protein intake, usually in the range of 1.2 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight (2.6 – 3.3 g/kg BW) per day, are commonly recommended when you are undergoing a cut to lose fat.
The ultimate goal of consuming protein should be to optimize protein synthesis by consuming the correct amount of protein at the right times of the day.
It’s common knowledge that there is a protein threshold and a rather specific timing component to protein’s ability to build muscle.
It has been widely believed that your body can only digest 30 grams of protein at any given time – and the rest is somewhat pointless.
This is something of a fabrication because your body can certainly digest much more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting – everyone is a different size, has a different metabolism and has different energy expenditure.
Potential side effects of too much protein
Kidney problems – Eating too much protein has been linked to your kidneys becoming a little unhappy. Too much protein can contribute to pre-existing kidney problems, elevated levels of protein in your urine, and even kidney stones – ouch!
Low calcium – Another problematic issue from the consumption of too much protein is the stealing of calcium from your bones. When your body digests protein, acids are absorbed from it with the help of calcium. If you aren’t getting enough calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones to help out which can eventually leave you with a deficiency.
Cancer – Some cancers have even been linked to the high consumption of too much protein. Diets high in red meat protein such as beef may lead to higher incidences of cancer.
GI issues and bloat – High protein diets can more than often be deficient in other areas such as fiber. Chicken, salmon and eggs are all great, healthy sources of protein but if you aren’t drinking enough water and getting enough fiber in then you are likely to get uncomfortable stomach issues such as bloating and cramps.
These aren’t the only symptoms of consuming too much protein they are just a select few. Reduced ketosis, gout and dehydration are also other side effects.
With protein, it is like everything – keep it in moderation and ensure your diet also contains all the other healthy components it needs to function such as a healthy array of carbohydrates, fruit, fiber and vegetables! All of which play their own important roles in any muscle-building diet.
Depending on your fitness goals, there are actually ideal ranges for each macronutrient. Too much of any single thing is always bad for you!