to keto, a variety of diets promote a low-carb, protein-rich approach to
eating, but did you know that consuming too much of it can be detrimental?
Even if you
aren’t glugging protein powder shakes on a daily basis, it’s important to
understand how to incorporate high-protein foods into your meals sensibly.
nutritionists explain everything you need to know about protein…
a macronutrient, second only to water in the body’s physical composition, and
is essential for life,” says Suzie Sawyer, clinical nutritionist from Aminoscience.
“It is the primary component of hair, muscles, skin, eyes, and internal
need 20 amino acids, nine of which are essential because we can’t physically
produce them, so we have to get them from food sources.
exists in various amounts in foods, including beans, lentils, tofu, chicken,
grains, meat, poultry, nuts and seeds,” explains Lifesum nutritionist Signe
protein usually contains all of the nine essential amino acids and provides
‘full protein value’, while plant-based proteins rarely contain them all.”
you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can reach the ‘full protein value’ by combining
two or more plant-based protein sources, such as soy, beans and grains.
the benefits of protein?
multiple functions within the brain and body.
needed for the production of hormones and brain neurotransmitters,” Sawyer
says. “For the maintenance and repair of body tissue, the production of
antibodies in the immune system, for energy metabolism and to produce
haemoglobin, which helps transport nutrients around the body.”
particularly important for those in a growth phase of life, says Svanfeldt:
“Such as children, teenagers or during pregnancy. The elderly also have an
increased need for protein, in order to prevent muscle breakdown.”
for fuelling athletic performance and helps to regulate appetite, she adds: “A
balanced meal with fibre, protein and healthy fats can also help us stay fuller
for longer. ”
the dangers if you eat too much protein?
comes to food and eating, balance is key – we should never eat only one
macronutrient,” Svanfeldt says. “If too much protein is consumed, you will not
have room for the carbohydrates and fat your body needs.”
loading up on, say, turkey breast and eggs without any carbs, limits your
options in terms of energy: “Our bodies will use the protein as energy instead
of using it for other tasks, such as cell growth.”
happens if you’re eating a surplus?
protein is excreted via the urine,” Sawyer says. “Long-term excessively high
protein intake may cause issues with the kidneys and it can increase the rate
of calcium loss, which is a factor for women and bone health during the
news is that most people are unlikely to be eating an excessive amount, Sawyer
adds: “I see more cases of protein deficiency in my clinical practice than
anything else, which causes many health issues, especially the muscle wasting
protein should you aim to eat?
of protein required depends on your weight.
recommendation is that 0.8g of protein per kg body weight is an adequate amount
of protein daily for a healthy adult,” Svanfeldt explains. “Although, if you
workout a lot, aim to lose weight or are elderly, you have an increased protein
need and require around 1.2 to 2.0g of protein per kg body weight.”
to spread your intake through the day, Sawyer says: “It’s important to eat
protein at every meal – this is essential for metabolic balance. If you are
vegan, then you will need to balance food intake to ensure sufficient essential
amino acids are consumed, i.e. rice and beans.”
protein powders or supplements present more of a risk in terms of excess
supplements, it can be easy to consume too high doses of nutrients, due to them
being very concentrated,” Sawyer says.
powders are, however, safe to consume in the recommended amounts, although the
benefits of eating whole foods means that you get a lot of other beneficial
nutrients as well.”