Will Eating More Protein Help Your Body Gain Muscle Faster?.
Find out how consuming too much protein can harm your body.
Seems like everyone at the gym is doing it: filling up on protein to bulk up
those biceps. But it's a misconception. Eating extra protein actually doesn't
do much toward boosting your muscle mass and strength.
In fact, medical research shows that consuming too much protein -- more than
30% of your total daily caloric intake -- could actually harm your body, says
protein expert Gail Butterfield, PhD, RD, director of Nutrition Studies at the
Palo Alto Veterans' Administration Medical Center and nutrition lecturer at
She says that a diet containing excess protein can have the following
- Adding more protein but not more calories or exercise to your diet won't
help you build more muscle mass, but it may put your other bodily systems under
- Eating more protein and increasing total caloric intake while maintaining
the same exercise level will build an equal amount of additional fat and muscle
mass, according to a study published in 1992 in the Journal of the American
Too Much Protein
So think twice when you consider sacrificing the carbohydrates for a
protein-dominant diet, Butterfield says. Drastically cutting carbohydrates from
your diet may force your body to fight back.
She says that's because a diet in which protein makes up more than 30% of
your caloric intake causes a buildup of toxic ketones. So-called ketogenic
diets can thrust your kidneys into overdrive in order to flush these ketones
from your body. As your kidneys rid your body of these toxic ketones, you can
lose a significant amount of water, which puts you at risk of dehydration,
particularly if you exercise heavily.
That water loss often shows up on the scale as weight loss. But along with
losing water, you lose muscle mass and bone calcium. The dehydration also
strains your kidneys and puts stress on your heart.
And dehydration from a ketogenic diet can make you feel weak and dizzy, give
you bad breath, or lead to other problems.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The amount of protein you require depends on your weight and your daily
caloric intake. Most Americans consume more than enough protein in their daily
diets. A few specific groups of people are at risk for being protein-deficient,
including elderly women and people with illnesses or eating disorders. A
protein deficiency is defined as eating 50% to 75% of the recommended amount of
daily protein, Butterfield explains.
Ideally, you should consume 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body
weight, according to recommended daily allowances (RDA) set by the Food and
Nutrition Board. So if you weigh 170 pounds, you need about 61 grams of protein
Protein should also make up approximately 15% of your total daily caloric
intake, also according to the RDA. In a diet of 1,800 calories a day, for
example, about 270 of those calories should come from protein.