Views on protein can be somewhat confusing and controversial, depending on from whom you request information. Usually the same crowd which tells you to eat a carbohydrate-free diet will also tell you to load, or in many cases, overload, on protein. Protein is important for growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue and should be balanced in your everyday diet. I won’t bore you with an in-depth biochemistry lesson, but an overload of protein can be detrimental to your kidneys over time; can cause you sluggishness; and it can cause you to smell weird. Trust me, I experienced that smell when I first started competing, and it is not pleasant.
Basically, you should be getting around 1 gram of protein per KILOGRAM of body weight (dividing your weight by 2.2 will give you both your body weight in kilograms, as well as an approximation of your daily amount of protein.) Yes, I said KILOGRAMS not pounds. Keep in mind, this is just a general recommendation; your protein needs may vary depending on your weight and physical activity level. Once you have that number you will want to divide that amount of protein up among your meals and snacks throughout the day. Keep in mind that this is a general recommendation. Athletes and extremely physically active individuals will, of course, need more protein for repair and maintenance of muscles.
This does not mean that you need to consume an excessive amount of protein to get a toned, fit body. In fact, consumming more protein than you need can have detrimental effects on your body:
- Extra protein intake means extra caloric intake which means stored fat in the body.
- Excessive protein intake can cause dehydration.
- Consuming too much protein can have a detrimental affect on the kidneys.
Bottom line, there is a strange obsession with overconsumption of protein. Science dictates that a generally healthy body can only process so much protein, so, as hard as it may be, ignore diets that tell you to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and stick with kilograms.
P.S. Try to get your protein from natural sources such as meats, legumes (beans), nuts, tofu, and dairy products. If you are looking for a protein shake, stick with whey protein. Costco has a ginormous (yes, that’s a word) bag of Cytosport whey protein for $34.99, no need to purchase tiny tubs of protein powder for $60. And, don’t forget, protein can also be found in whole grains and some vegetables!