The pros and cons of a high protein diet

EAT PROTEIN helps you build muscle, recover faster after intense workouts, keep at optimal weightand stay full longer.

So, it makes sense that you want to keep increasing yours protein hiring.

Over the past year, 52% of Americans followed a specific eating pattern, and high-protein diets were their first choice, with 18% of people embracing them, according to the International Council on Food Information (IFIC) 2023 survey on nutrition and health.

Kris Sollid, R.Dsenior director of nutrition communications at IFIC, she says high in protein it hasn\’t made the poll list since 2018, when just 4 percent said they were on the diet. And he\’s not sure why exactly protein now it\’s more of a focus.

Two potential influencers from 2018 cannot be overlooked: the impact of Covid-19 on food choices and the increase in the availability of vegetable proteins food and beverage items, he says.

The desire to lose weight, improve their physical appearance, feel better, have more energy and protect themselves from potential health problems were the main reasons people chose to adopt specific diets, according to the IFIC survey.

Adding more protein to your diet can offer a number of benefits, especially if you lift weights and do intense workouts, she says Leah Silberman, R.Da registered dietician at Manhattan Medical Offices.

However, the amount of protein needed for a high protein diet varies depending on your age, weight, level of physical activity and overall health. And you Candies consuming too much, she says, while protein is an essential nutrient for the body, consuming excessive amounts can have potential downsides.

Dietitians explain what exactly is considered a high-protein diet, how adding more protein to your meals, and how it can benefit you.

What exactly is a high protein diet?

Protein is found in muscles, bones, skin, hair and other parts of the body, according to the Harvard School of Public Health TH Chan. It helps fuel several chemical reactions in your body, including fueling the hemoglobin that moves oxygen in your blood.

So consuming protein is good for you, but defining what is considered high protein is tricky, says Sollid.


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For example, some protein recommendations are based on the percentage of calories in a diet that come from protein, she says. Other protein recommendations are based on body weight.

Adults should get at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight each day, which equals approximately 7 grams per 20 pounds of body weight.

Consuming any amount higher than that recommendation would be considered a high-protein diet, Silberman says.

Here\’s what a high-protein diet can look like:

High protein content based on body weight

A high-protein rule of thumb for the average person is 1.2 grams or more of protein per kilogram of body weight, Sollid says. If you do intense workouts and weight training, you can increase your protein to 1.75 grams.

If you opt for 1.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, this would be equivalent to:

  • About 125 grams per day for a 154-pound person
  • About 160 grams per day for a 200-pound person

High protein based on percentage of calories

Protein intake can vary depending on calorie needs, which are influenced by age, size, fitness level and other factors, says Sollid.

Another way to increase protein is to make protein-rich foods a significant portion of your daily calories. For example, Sollid says high protein could be defined as more than 22 percent of your total daily calories. Here are some examples:

  • About 80 grams of protein per day for a 1,500-calorie diet
  • About 110 grams of protein per day for a 2,000-calorie diet
  • About 140 grams of protein per day for a 2,500-calorie diet
  • About 135 grams of protein per day for a 3,000-calorie diet

What are the benefits of protein?

Protein has been shown to help with weight loss and weight management because it keeps you feeling full for longer. One study found that when overweight women increased their protein intake by 15% to 30%, they ate about 400 fewer calories per day.


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Research it also shows that eating more protein helps maintain muscle mass and build muscle and strength during strength training.

Proteins have potential metabolism boosting effects. It might also help lower blood pressure and promotes Bone health.

Can you eat too much protein?

While you can eat too much of anything, Sollid says most healthy people don\’t have to worry about consuming too much protein. But if you have health issues, like kidney disease, you need to monitor your protein intake.

There\’s no official threshold for too much protein, as individual tolerances vary, says Silberman. However, he adds that exceeding 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may not offer any additional benefits.

What are the disadvantages of a high protein diet?

Focusing too much on protein could mean you\’re neglecting other important nutrients, like fiber, says Sollid.

Fiber is found only in plant foods, so depending on the protein source, a high-protein diet that overemphasizes animal foods and doesn\’t include enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains could also be a low-fiber diet, she explains. .

Long-term excessive protein intake can strain your kidneys, especially if you\’re at risk for kidney problems, Silberman says.

And, be sure to drink more water if you\’re upping your protein, she adds, it can lead to an increased risk of dehydration, as the body requires more water to metabolize and eliminate the byproducts of protein breakdown.

What time of day should you eat protein?

Your body needs protein throughout the day, so you don\’t have to focus on eating it at specific times, Silberman says.


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Protein offers more benefit for your muscles when you eat it evenly across three meals, instead of consuming it all in one meal, says Sollid.

However, consume protein within an hour of training it may support muscle repair and synthesis, adds Silberman.

How To Add More Protein To Your Diet

Protein can come from a variety of plant and animal sources, what you choose to eat is a personal preference. Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products are good animal sources. Beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products offer plant-based protein.

Working more of these foods into your meals and snacks will help increase your protein intake. Be sure to check nutrition labels, suggests Sollid.

For example, soy milk often contains more protein than other plant-based dairy products, and Greek yogurt and Icelandic skyr contain more protein than regular yogurt.

Even if you\’re not looking to consume more protein, think about diversifying your protein choices to include more beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, seafood and soy foods, says Sollid.


Erica Sweeney is a writer who focuses primarily on health, wellness and career. She has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many more.

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