HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS TOO MUCH?
When we think of protein, lets be real... We think of big meat-heads doing two-a-days in the gym working out only their chest and biceps. The "bro-science" trend, as you will, has sort of ruined the idea of protein for a lot of society. Many people think taking in a lot of protein will make them "big" or "manly" or grow their muscles exponentially. I'm here to break that misconception... shatter it to pieces rather.
A high protein diet has been proven to be successful since humans existed. From cavemen, to hunter/gatherers, to our founding fathers, diets existed of mostly animals products, a.k.a meat! But in this day and age there is such a stigma around eating protein, that we've forgotten that the OG's of the human world actually had a good thing going. The reason we as humans NEED protein is because we need the amino acids (the building blocks that make up protein) in order to build our own body's protein-containing parts, such as muscle, hair, skin, nails, enzymes and many other little parts of our cells. The government suggests we will get enough protein if we eat 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That suggests that a 150 pound woman only needs to consume about 54 grams of protein in her diet. To put that in perspective, I currently eat 160 grams of protein and I'm 125 pounds. And I like to think I'm doin' something right? Anyways, this government issued number is basically the amount of protein you need in order to not drop dead. This is a number for someone who lives a very sedentary lifestyle, has no interest in building any sort of muscle and is most likely over weight. I say this because if they're only getting, lets say 50-70 grams of protein in their diet, chances are the rest of their calories are coming from carbohydrates and fat. Which we all know, and the government knows this too, the combination of an excess amount of carbohydrates and fats is what leads to weight gain. The idea that we can eat too much protein leading to kidney stones or kidney failure, has been overthrown by multiple scientific studies. The only people who actually believe this are those who aren't up to date with science, and... vegetarians/vegans (sorry, I had to). There isn't any evidence that a high protein diet puts any "strain" on a healthy, functioning kidney. So, now that you're convinced eating more protein won't cause you kidney failure, lets talk about how to actually incorporate the right amount of protein into your individual lifestyle and diet. Above, I gave you the amount of protein I'm eating in comparison to my weight. Again, I know my number looks high, but don't worry we know my kidneys are fine, remember? :) Now the reason I am eating so much protein in a day is because I live an extremely active lifestyle. Between the gym, cardio, and just my every day life, I burn through a lot of calories. My body, in turn, needs this high amount of protein in order to continue to build muscle or at the very least, maintain it. This is also a personal preference. After trying all sorts of diets and macronutrient ratios, I have found that eating high protein has me feeling and looking my best. I'm also a bikini competitor and since I'm currently preparing for a competition, I keep my protein higher and my carbohydrates and fats moderate, in order to ensure I'm still intaking enough calories but that my body is putting it to use in the correct way.
If you aren't a competitor, or don't train every day, don't worry... you do not need to be consuming more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. A good rule of thumb that I would suggest to anyone is to eat the same amount of protein as what you weigh. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be getting about 150 grams of protein in your diet every day. "But isn't more protein just more calories?" Technically yes. Regardless of how much protein you're eating, if you are eating in a caloric surplus, you may still gain weight. Therefore, if you are going to increase your protein intake you need to adjust your other macronutrients accordingly in order to ensure you aren't eating too many calories now. As an example, lets say you were eating about 100 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 70 grams of fat in a day. Now you want to increase your protein to 150 grams a day. In order to maintain the weight you are at, or very well lose weight, you must adjust your carbs and fats. So lets say now you'd be eating 150 grams of protein, 170 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fat. See what I did there? Now you have a higher protein diet, are still eating carbs and fats but have a perfect ratio to get your body into that muscle-building/fat-burning state. (Remember this is all relative, please don't think simply applying these numbers to you will work). In the end, there is no strict number for any person. It is all about you, what your day-to-day looks like and what your health and fitness goals are. If you are feeling weak in the gym, or lethargic throughout the day, or you simply can't grow your damn hair!, you may need to re-access your protein intake. Make sure to reach out to someone knowledgeable about this subject to ensure you're doing whats best for your body... so maybe don't ask a vegan ;) (kidding. sort of). Good luck and you got this!