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HomeLifestyleThe Pros and Cons of Eating a High-Protein Diet

The Pros and Cons of Eating a High-Protein Diet

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It’s common knowledge that eating protein helps build muscle, recover quickly after intense workouts, maintain a healthy weight, and stay full longer. So, it makes sense that you’d want to keep upping your protein intake. However, as with many things, moderation is key. While a high-protein diet has its benefits, it has its disadvantages.

A picture of a high-protein diet
Source: Pinterest

According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) 2023 Food and Health Survey, Americans have embraced high-protein diets. In the past year, 52 percent of Americans have followed a specific eating pattern. Many have chosen high-protein diets as their top choice, with 18 percent of people embracing them.

The IFIC survey discovered that people mainly adopt specific diets to lose weight or improve their physical appearance, feel better, have more energy, and guard against potential health problems. 

Adding more protein to your diet can offer a range of benefits, especially if you do intense workouts. But, how much protein you need on a high-protein diet varies. Your protein intake depends on your age, weight, level of physical activity, and overall health.

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As stated earlier, Leah Silberman, a registered dietitian in Manhattan, affirms you can consume too much. “While protein is an essential nutrient for the body,” Silberman says. “Consuming excessive amounts can have potential drawbacks.”

Dietitians have explained a high-protein diet and outlined how to add more protein to your meals. Adults should get at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight daily, equating to about 7 grams per 20 pounds.

Silberman says consuming over that recommendation would be considered a high-protein diet. One high-protein rule for the average person is 1.2 grams or more of protein per kilogram of body weight, Kris Sollid says. Notably, Sollid is a senior director of nutrition communications at IFIC.

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If you do intense workouts and weight training, you could increase your protein to 1.75 grams. Besides your body composition, protein intake can also depend on your caloric needs. Sollid says your age, size, fitness level, and other factors influence your caloric needs.

Another foolproof way to increase protein is to make protein-rich foods a significant portion of your daily calories. For instance, Sollid says high protein is more than 22 percent of your daily calories. Protein has been shown to help with weight loss and weight management because it makes you feel full for longer. 

Research also shows that eating more protein helps you maintain muscle mass and build muscles and strength during strength training. Furthermore, protein has potential metabolism-boosting effects. It could also help lower your blood pressure and promote bone health.

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However, Sollid says that focusing too much on protein could mean neglecting other essential nutrients, like fiber. Silberman also says excessive protein intake in the long term can strain your kidneys, especially if you’re at risk for kidney problems.

Importantly, drink more water if you’re increasing your protein intake. “It can lead to an increased risk of dehydration,” Silberman says. “As the body requires more water to metabolize and eliminate the byproducts of protein breakdown.”

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