Protein- Daily Diet Info

Protein-how much do you need?

Protein has achieved a venerated status in the dietary world for everything from building muscle to preventing weight gain. But can you get too much of a good thing?

Powders that come in chocolate, strawberry and cookies-and-cream flavours are doled out by the scoopful and mixed into smoothies. This makes it possible to effortlessly consume amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations. A canned drink can contain almost as much as an eight-ounce (227-gram) steak. Even snack bars can pack more than a three-egg omelette.

But while some nutritionists have encouraged the protein craze, a number of experts are urging caution. They point out that protein powders and supplements, which come from animal products such as whey and casein or from plants such as soy, rice, pea or hemp, are a relatively new invention. The vast majority of people already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein from food, there are no long-term studies to tell us how much protein is too much.

People need sufficient protein in their diet because it supplies indispensable amino acids that our bodies cannot synthesize on their own. Together, they provide the essential building blocks used to make and maintain muscle, bone, skin and other tissues and an array of vital hormones and enzymes.

But the average adult can achieve the recommended intake – 46 g a day for women, and 56 g for men – by eating moderate amounts of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, beans or nuts every day. There are about 44 g in a cup of chopped chicken, 20 g in a cup of tofu or serving of Greek yogurt and 18 g in a cup of lentils or three eggs.

Among the groups that fall short on intake are teenage girls, who may not eat properly, and elderly people, who are at risk of losing muscle mass and whose appetites often slacken with age. Indeed, many of the earliest nutritional-supplement products, such as Boost and Ensure, were devised with the elderly and malnourished in mind. (Professional athletes who work out many hours a day also need to increase intake considerably, as do women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.)

The supplement market is booming among the young and healthy, with retail sales of sports-nutrition powders and other products on the rise.Experts note that there is only so much intake the body can use. The body only digests and absorbs a certain amount of protein at every meal, about 20 g to 40 g,

You can eat 300 g a day, but that doesn’t mean you’ll put on more muscle than someone who takes in 120 g a day. You could be denying yourself of other macronutrients that the body needs, like whole grains, fats and fruits and vegetables.”

Short-term studies suggest high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may promote weight loss and help to preserve lean muscle. But a recent small trial found older women who lost weight on a high-protein diet did not experience one of the important benefits that usually follow weight loss. This would be an improvement in insulin sensitivity which reduces the risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. Large population studies also suggest an association between habitual high intake and a heightened risk of diabetes.

Doctors also have concerns about the long-term effects of maintaining a high-protein diet. Studies show protein-rich diets do not preserve muscle mass over the long term. Doctors have long cautioned a high-protein diet that can lead to kidney damage.