It is commonly believed that you need a very high protein diet in case you need to build bulk and muscle. While this may be true for certain people that do need such diets such as athletes and bodybuilders, an unscientifically-designed diet with excessive protein content may actually pose a health hazard, especially if the diet is also very low on carbohydrates and fats. Even weightlifters and athletes, who may be inclined to replace food rich in carbohydrates with excessive protein content, to reduce their weights, may be at risk.
Guidelines on Protein Intake
An essential part of a healthy diet, protein is required to supply amino acids that are the body’s building blocks for muscles, immunity system, blood, and virtually everything else. Human beings need to consume foods with protein content because the body cannot manufacture it on its own. When the body is unable to get sufficient energy from carbohydrates and fats, it will burn up the protein structures in the body. Experts reckon that the ideal proportion of the calorie intake required by the human body should be between 10 and 35 percent, approximately equivalent to a daily allowance of 50 to 175 grams. The USDA suggests a daily protein consumption of anything between 0.8 and 1 gram per kilogram of body weight.
Potential Side Effects of Excessive Dietary Protein
If the protein content in the diet is being substantially exceeded from the recommended levels for extended periods, then a number of health hazards may be experienced depending upon the protein type and amount.
Consuming too much protein may result in the kidneys getting stressed and result in a variety of kidney issues, especially in people with pre-existing kidney conditions such as high protein level in the urine and kidney stones. To counter this, it is necessary to drink lots of water and exercise a lot so that the kidneys are able to flush out the wastes more effectively from the body. It is advisable to consult your doctor before commencing a high-protein diet if you have a preexisting kidney disease.
While it was believed earlier that consuming too much protein is a prime cause of cardiovascular disease, recent studies have revealed that the real problem seems to be stemming from the very high levels of saturated fats in animal proteins. Organic options, like plant proteins that do not have such high saturated fat levels do not pose a risk of cardiac disease, and some in fact have been attributed with a protective action.
When you consume a lot of proteins, the body also releases a lot of acids to digest it. The process of digestion requires calcium, which if the body does not get from the diet, extracts it from the bones, making them brittle. A study of women consuming more than 95 grams of protein revealed that they are more at risk of breaking their wrists than women who consumed less. Recent studies have however countered the theory that protein consumption leads to calcium leaching from the bones.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that consuming large amounts of red meat protein may lead to more incidences of cancer. However, the link between excessive protein consumption and cancer is yet to be established conclusively.
It has often been observed that dieters seeking to reduce their weights eliminate carbohydrates form their daily diets and seek to replace the gap by eating more protein. However, this tends to upset the ideal balance that the body seeks, and affects ketosis, the primary mechanism of diet control. Instead of protein filling in the gaps in the diet, options of consuming healthy fats and low-glycemic vegetables can be explored.
While protein is no doubt essential for muscle and cellular growth and repair, too much of it without scientific supervision can lead to various problems. Regardless of what your health and fitness objectives are, be sure to maintain a healthy balance of proteins with carbohydrates, fats, and other essential micronutrients to keep your body functioning optimally.