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Can eating too much protein actually be a bad thing?

by MEGOFITNESS
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Protein

Ideal protein for fitness goals

Normally, For healthy individuals, 1.6 grams to 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is ideal for virtually all fitness goals. My reasoning for more than the usual 0.8 grams. But, what about eating even more than what I recommend? Would more actually have more benefits or do things turn for the worse? Today, let’s jump into the research to find out.

Is Protein Make You FAT ?

Now, when we think about goals like weight and fat loss, general recommendation is to adjust the amount of carbs and fats we are eating. Protein rarely is ever the primary focus and it’s often simply assumed that eating too much protein like carbs and fats, would also lead to weight and fat gain. However, this isn’t always be the case, at least not for both weight AND fat.

A 2014 study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that, for 8 weeks, eating a very high protein diet while eating the same amount of carbs and fats as a control group, did increase weight but no changes to fat while adding more fat-free mass. But the juicy part is in the details: The high protein group ate LOTS of protein, a staggering 4.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. For an average 80-kilogram individual, that‘s 352 grams of protein per day. This study involved slightly lighter folks with an average of 307 grams of protein per day.

How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?

Still quite a huge lotta protein. But perhaps the most eye-opening statistic, however, is not the protein, but the total calories. On average, the high protein diet group ate roughly 800 more calories than they normally do. And yet, they only gained 1.7 kilograms of weight on average within 8 weeks and most of it was fat-free mass, not fat.

So what does this tell us? For one, this goes right against the proverbial “all calories are equal.” Frankly, though, if we’ve been following the research, this was always kind of the case when considering the different uses we have for each macronutrient. Carbs and fats are primarily used for energy; thus, the body will prioritize them for energy systems. And any excess carbs and fats will be stored energy in ways of fat.

Protein, is kind of magical

In the sense that it’s rarely used as energy since our body has many uses for it, like building muscle. Also, it takes lots of energy to actually metabolize protein, so it would be best if it wasn’t used for it. In short, protein requires a great deal of energy to digest and absorb, with some estimates of 35% of its energy provision used for digestion versus carbs and fat’s 5 to 15% percent.

In essence, if you eat more protein, you naturally burn more calories. And it’s been show to be even higher the more fit you are. Now, the researchers of this study believe that there could potentially be greater body composition changes. Especially when previous studies, like a 2012 study by Bray et al, found a very clear and distinct positive relationship between lean body mass and protein intake with no difference in fat mass.

This led to the researchers to run another experiment. They believed the lack of body composition changes in their study wasn’t due to a potential limit to protein intake, but likely because the subjects were not given a proper periodized training program.

So, in 2015, for another 8 weeks, the researchers compared a protein diet of 2.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight versus a high protein diet of 3.4 grams while deploying the subjects into a periodized resistance training program 5 times a week.

This time, while eating much more calories again, the high protein subjects DID NOT gain any weight but the lower protein group did. Fat-free mass increased in both groups again, with no statistically significant differences. But the major difference is in fat mass. Fat mass decreased, on average, by only 0.3 kilograms in lower-protein subjects, which is not statistically meaningful. With higher protein intake, fat mass dropped by a significantly higher 1.6 kilograms. This is a 20.2 to 19.6% bodyfat percentage change in the low protein subjects, and an 18.3 to 15.9% bodyfat change in the high protein group.

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Conclusion of eating protein

Bear in mind again, both groups were eating MUCH more calories than usual and still dropped fat while not gaining weight with higher levels of protein. Now, some of you might be thinking, and for good reason, is eating this much protein actually SAFE? In the 2015 study, the researchers did measure certain protein-related health variables, such as glomerular filtration rate and creatinine, and found no changes when eating the high protein diet.

But, this was only an 8-week study. Long-term effects are still unknown, and if you have related pre-existing issues, then please take these findings with a huge grain of salt and consult your healthcare professional first. Even then, I personally wouldn’t recommend more than my usual 1.6 grams to 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Luckily, there doesn’t seem to be much of a long-term risk in this range as long as you’re healthy.

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