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26 Ways You Stay Hungry: #9

The urban legend is that protein has a direct correlation with muscle gain — that the more protein you eat, the more muscle you build.

But as it turns out, that’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s not true at all. There’s a protein threshold, a level of dietary protein intake beyond which you don’t receive any of the muscle-building benefits. You can actually experience some adverse side effects by overdoing it, including indigestion, hormone disruption, kidney and liver problems, and even weight gain.


When you digest protein, your kidneys go to work eliminating waste products from your system. So when you ingest a large amount of protein at one time, your kidneys can become stressed with the large task of filtering all that waste. Kidney strain, over a prolonged period of time, can lead to kidney disease; so it’s important to be mindful of your protein intake.

Any food with extremely high protein content is likely to cause indigestion — all the work your stomach has to do to break down protein releases gases as a by-product, which can cause bloating.

Protein requires insulin for metabolism. Since insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating your blood sugar, using an excess of it can disrupt your body’s natural blood glucose. According to a report on protein and diabetes, “large amounts of protein have the potential to contribute to glucose production [and] minimally increase blood glucose levels.” So if you don’t want to experience a mean mid-afternoon crash, it’s wise not to overdo it.

Low-carb, high-protein also means low-energy, high-effort for your body. It has to work much harder to digest that protein, and it has to work harder to use the energy from the protein’s calories. Your body goes to carbs first, and when it’s deprived of them it starts to metabolically slow down. This can result in a sluggish, fatigued feeling that can sometimes be so intense that it’s obstructive to daily life.


Understanding protein by Harvard Health:

Protein is a critical part of our diet. We need it to build and repair cells, and make healthy muscles, organs, glands, and skin. Everyone needs a minimum amount each day. The Institute of Medicine recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For someone who weighs 150 pounds, that means 54 grams of protein per day. Another guideline is to make sure at least 15% of your daily calories come from protein.

How might more protein and fewer carbs in the diet make a difference for weight loss or weight control? “Protein takes more energy for you to digest than refined carbohydrates, and also gives your body a feeling of satiety,” says Dr. Hauser. Low-carb diets have been shown to help some people lose weight.

But over the long term, too much protein and too few complex carbohydrates from vegetable sources may not be the healthiest plan. This kind of eating pattern has been linked to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. That’s because digesting protein releases acids into the bloodstream. The body neutralizes these acids with calcium—which can be pulled from bone if necessary. Eating too much protein also makes the kidneys work harder. In healthy people, this usually doesn’t pose a problem. But those with kidney disease or diabetes (which is associated with kidney disease) need to watch their daily protein intake so they don’t overload their kidneys.

Many folks opt for a super-high protein diet because they want to lose weight and gain lean body mass. However, many nutritional experts agree that while you may see short-term weight loss, that weight always creeps back up and even exceeds what you started with.

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