Experts Debate: Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Protein?

Cassie Shortsleeve
by Cassie Shortsleeve
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Not only is protein an important component of every single cell in your body, but you also use the macronutrient to build and repair tissues (hugely important post-exercise) and make enzymes, hormones and other bodily chemicals.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight a day. But trendy high-protein diets such as Paleo suggest taking in far more, making it easy to wonder if it’s too much of a good thing.

Here, experts pick camps (and outline how to make sure you’re choosing healthy protein sources).

About the Author

Cassie Shortsleeve
Cassie Shortsleeve

Cassie Shortsleeve is a Boston-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked on staff at both Shape and Men’s Health and contributes regularly to a slew of national print and digital publications such as Women’s Health, Condé Nast Traveler, and Furthermore for Equinox. With a degree in English and creative writing from the College of the Holy Cross, she has a passion for reporting on all things health, lifestyle, and travel.


5 responses to “Experts Debate: Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Protein?”

  1. Avatar Martha says:

    In the conclusion titled “The Bottom Line”, it states “to consult a registered dietitian”. This gives the impression that the author of this article has taken a side on this issue. As I was reading the head to head positions of the two experts, I tend to favor what the science actually shows rather than what we hope it will show. What was surprising is that the RD recommended more protein intake than even what the RDA actually states. In light of the PhD referring to studies that used much higher quantities of protein without adverse effects, this makes me wonder if RD and the RDA are both too low in their recommendations for protein intake. Therefore, it would stand to reason that “the Bottom Line” of this article should have also included the advise to consult an exercise physiologist.

  2. Avatar Desertcatn✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ says:

    Extra protein turns into extra calories, why would you consume extra if you don’t need it.

  3. Avatar Leah Heath says:

    The mayo clinic states that too much protein accelerates kidney damage in people with kidney disease. The national kidney foundation estimates over 30 million people in America have kidney disease. They state that most people don’t even know they have it. Contributing risk factors that may lead to kidney disease are diabetes and heart disease. This brings the numbers up to a nine digit figure of people who could potentially be killing themselves by consuming to much protein since there is no cure for kidney disease.

    • Avatar Doc MacIan says:

      “since there is no cure for kidney disease.” Do you mean “no cure” by allopathic physicians?

      Generally, doctors do not cure anything. They may stop a dramatic slide, but the human body does the actual curing.

      If you keep putting the wrong “fuel” into the body, then likely it will continue along the same path. A very simple analogy would be putting gasoline into a diesel engine. I can almost hear a doctor, who is generally unschooled in nutrition, saying, “Well we put a standard ‘diet’ for this car and there is No Cure!”

      I had always believed humans need a lot of protein and it should be animal protein.

      I was diagnosed with a 98% left anterior descending artery (known as the widow maker). I refused both stents and a triple bypass and decided to go on a no oil plant based diet and the Pauling-Rath Protocol (3 g Vitamin C + 3 g L-Lysine + 3 g L-Proline and 0.25 g Niacin taken 3 times a day . Doctors (cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at two different hospitals) guaranteed me that without the surgery, there was No Way to reverse or clear the blockage.

      On September 3rd, my measured LVEF (Left Ventricle Ejection Factor, how much the heart’s main high pressure pumps to the body Normal range is 55% to 65%) was 17% which means I am almost dead. I could walk less than 100 meters (yards) before I felt chest pains.

      February 13th, my measured LVEF was 52%. I am able to walk for miles (I do get tired but no chest pain) I can run 150 m without chest pain.

      When I started doing research, I discovered HUMAN Breast Milk is on average only 1.1% protein. This is the lowest of all the mammals who have been reliably measured.

      There are world class athletes who eat a plant based diet (Vegan but without the stench of moral superiority 😉 ) who are very healthy, recover from intense workouts quickly and do this without eating excessive protein.

      “consult a registered dietitian”?!?!? Where did they study? What studies do they read?

      I recently read that medical knowledge is doubling every 18 months. Even if the is a 50% increase over 36 months, that is still an enormous volume of information.

      We used to think eating cholesterol caused a rise in cholesterol. This is False
      We used to think drinking cow’s milk helps build strong bones, but the form of protein in cow’s milk is acidic and to counter that your body pulls Calcium out of your bones to counter the higher levels of acid in the blood.

      Calcium Carbonate (what antacids like Tums are made of, which is Marble Dust) is cheap so it is used, just like many vitamins are made from petroleum (cheap, but missing key enzymes and transporter molecules.

      Both people mentioned No Adverse Effects, but I find when I was studying medicine that Not Sick was considered healthy, but any intelligent person knows there is a big difference between Not Sick and Vitally Healthy.

      Again a simple and maybe not completely apt analogy, the tune-up for a common passenger car and an Indy 500 car are quite different.

      One year before my angiogram, I was given a complete physical. My EKG (resting) was normal and most of my blood work as well, but would any cardiologist say I was healthy? My Adverse Effects at that point were NO ADVERSE EFFECTS.

      My Bottom Line, both these opinions are based on a Reader’s Digest look at this issue and are worthless in my not so humble opinion.

  4. Avatar Joelle says:

    I can’t believe this is still a question. For 30 years scientists have proven that animal protein promotes cancer growth, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many more diseases including some auto immune diseases. Using rats (as they have a very similar molecular structure to humans), they can stop and start cancer progression by giving rats a diet of animal protein (giving the equivalent of our daily recommended amount) which in 100% of cases caused cancers and tumors to progress/ continue to grow. By giving them plant proteins (a plant based diet), in 100% of cases, the cancers and tumors stopped growing. These studies have been done for 30 years with 100% results every time. Eating plant protein (a plant based diet) eliminates heart disease, type 2 diabetes, reduces blood pressure and will avoid most cancers (only around 3% of cancers are genetic). This science, which is part of the biggest study done in our history, is being completely ignored. So yes, too much animal protein is very bad, (even the recommended daily amount is far too much as mentioned before). Eat plant protein instead. To understand more about this research and to find out why it’s being kept from us, read The China Study, the biggest nutritional study ever done.

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