It seems like everywhere you look these days, people are trying to serve you up some extra protein.
Take a walk around any grocery store and you’ll quickly see that it’s no longer just the vitamin aisle carrying your muscle-building goods.
From pasta (plus protein!) to cereal (plus protein!), there’s protein milk, protein bread, protein ice cream, protein coffee... heck, they even sell protein with EXTRA protein...protein-protein!?
Clearly, word has gotten out about the benefits of a high-protein diet, but is there such a thing as too much protein? Are we going a bit overboard here??
Before we delve into that, let’s first take a crash course on what exactly protein is, and why in the world it is so important…
Protein is a macronutrient necessary for building and maintaining muscle mass and body tissue.
Unlike other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats), protein cannot be stored in the body. This means that once you use it, you lose it.
When it comes to protein, our body has no reservoir to draw more from as we run low. Without the ability to pull from a secret “protein backup” whenever we need it, we have to make sure we are constantly filling the body with enough to get us through any given moment. Keeping protein in the body allows it to build and repair tissue as need be.
As well, eating a high-protein diet can stabilize your blood sugar levels, maintain strong bones, and certain amino acids found in protein foods can balance your hormones and control your mood!
Protein is most certainly a good thing, but can you ever have too much of a good thing??
In regards to protein, yes, you can.
If you are eating more than 30-35% of your daily calories from protein, then you are having too much.
And, while you do not need to worry about any of the “too much protein” myths becoming a reality (“too much protein gets stored as fat…” “too much protein causes kidney failure…” “too much protein increases your risk of osteoporosis…”), you do need to worry about the body oxidizing protein for energy.
"But how is this a bad thing? Energy is good!"
Yes, and no. Yes, you want your body to start burning macronutrients for energy, but no, you do not want that macronutrient to be protein. You do not want your body to get into the habit of breaking down protein for fuel.
So, rather than filling up on extra protein to oxidize for energy, you should focus on eating more proper amounts at the proper times to maximize protein synthesis (muscle building) and cause the body to use carbohydrates (its favorite fuel source) to power your daily activity and workouts instead.
What is the proper amount? A good rule of thumb is to consume 1g per pound of bodyweight. As for the proper times, refer back to this post for more on meal-timing and aim for about 30g per big meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner…).
Now, what does this all mean? Should we be stocking up on all the protein-infused goodies at the store or not??
Before you start purchasing all the “extra-protein” foods, start by paying closer attention to how much protein you are taking in naturally. You may be surprised to find that you’re already getting an acceptable amount, and adding in the other protein snacks and foods might just put you over!
Below are just a few natural high-protein foods that you may already be consuming:
-Boneless, skinless chicken breast
-Lean ground beef
-Roasted turkey breast
-Boneless pork chops
-Lean red meats
If you're not already, incorporate a mixture of these into your daily eating and meals. If you find yourself still needing more protein, then start supplementing with some of those other options.
If you’re going the protein supplement route, consider the following:
-Whey protein powder
-Whey isolate protein powder
-Casein protein powder
(^^all of which Philly Gainz sells a great variety of and code “MARIA10” will save you money on all of them…)
And of course any of those other “xyz plus protein!” options you find in the grocery store aisles!
Bottom line of all this: just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you need to buy it! All the protein-infused foods everywhere are great, but they are not necessary.
Be careful not to consume too many of them or you may wind up doing more harm than good in regards to taking in a surplus of protein that has nowhere to go.
Pro-tip on protein?
Take in the optimal amounts at the optimal times to help you just build and repair muscle!