Question: How much protein is enough or too much protein?

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The CORRECT amount of protein question is not simple to answer!


There is no easy answer to this question, but I will make an attempt to answer it. Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is vitally important to remain in good health, but the question is what denotes healthy? There is no easy answer and if you ask 100 professionals, you will likely get more than 100 opinions. Top start the answer, I am going to provide some background.

What is protein?

Protein is a complex compound of amino acids. They form the backbone or structure to our bodies. They are the main ingredient in the muscles of our bodies but they also can be used for many more purposes and structures. The amino acids are also used to form signals and enzymes that allow our bodies to properly function.

You can view our bodies as a constantly building construction site. Protein is the part the workers need to repair and replace broken parts. The amino acids are the building blocks for these parts. We get them from digesting proteins and muscle from, animals and plants. Without these blocks, we cannot repair or rebuild.

Why do I need to eat protein?

Your body is constantly fixing and replacing itself. We replace skin cells every day as new ones die. We using proteins and amino acids to make hormones, enzymes, cells, hair, skin, and muscle that we need to function. We are in a constand state oif repair not to similar to your city roads or buildings.

Without replacing it, your body would shift to a state of disrepair. Your body uses protein or muscles would quickly fail and yoru would become ill and die. Most Americans do get plenty of protein in their diet.

So is there such a thing as too much? As long as you have healthy kidneys and do not have a metabolic syndrome that hinders your ability to break down or use amino acids and protein, there is no such thing as too much protein. Your body will turn them into energy and you will use the excess or store it as fat. It will be stored as energy and cannot be converted back to amino acids.

What is the right amount of protein?

I usually use the range of 0.33 to 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. I tell my patients that 0.5 grams in the goal as long as they do not have a medical condition that may make me tell them to eat less. For example, people with kidney disease should eat less.

The bottom line: Protein is vitally important for our bodies to function and we cannot store it for a rainy day. We must consume about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to function correctly. You can get it both from animal and plant sources but it might be challenging to get a good mix of amino acids from just beans along. Have a steak or piece of and enjoy!

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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