Myth: You can never have too much protein
Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein make up the macro-nutrients. In the last few years both carbs and fats have got a bad rap in the health and wellness world, but protein has long standed as one of the healthiest parts that make up our food. For good reason, as protein is an essential building block for the body, helping to repair muscle, organs and bone.
There is now protein in everything from sweets enriched with protein, protein smoothies, even high protein pasta. But how much protein do we actually need? And can we eat too much protein?
FACT: When eaten in excess it comes out in your pee
Protein is great as it increases satiety and muscle retention – aka helps to keep us full for longer and build muscle.
However, unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein cannot be stored by the body. When protein is consumed in excess the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein are usually excreted and the remaining is stored as fat.
This is one of the reasons that it is recommended to include a source – however small – of protein at every meal time. As we can’t store it, it is best to consume small amounts at a time to allow it to be used efficiently by the body.
Now that brings me back to the fact I stated above. The excess protein comes out in your pee. Or more specifically the surplus of amino acids is excreted through your kidneys to make up urea – or urine!
Ever wondered why lemon trees thrive from being urinated on? Well that’s because the nitrogen in urine from surplus amino acids is like a natural fertilizer.
If excessive protein is consumed over a long period of time it can lead to a range of negative health effects, in particular kidney damage and dehydration as your kidney’s need to work harder and use more water to get rid of the excess nitrogen and other waste products of protein.
Most women in Australia actually consume too much protein, so if you are considering paying the extra 50c-$1 at the smoothie store for added protein powder chances are it is a waste of money.
I do sometimes consume protein powder, but usually in a smaller dose that the packet recommends and only if I haven’t had protein in my last meal.
So instead on making expensive urine, try and keep it simple and consume a small amount of protein a day. Protein should only make up 10-30% of your diet.
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