Not getting enough protein is one of the reasons why a muscle building workout isn’t building muscle. Getting your required protein intake is crucial – but what happens if you take too much?
Protein isn’t particularly dangerous, but an over-consumption of protein may be associated with:
- Weight gain. Excess calories from excess protein may be stored as body fat.
- Intestinal irritation. Too much protein has been linked to constipation, diarrhea and/or excessive gas.
- Dehydration. Experts advise drinking a half gallon of water per 100 grams of protein.
- Seizures. Seizures have been linked to excess protein intake – but only if insufficient amounts of water are consumed.
- Increase in liver enzymes.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Just focusing on protein intake causes some high-protein dieters to overlook other nutrients. Ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritious.
- Risk of heart disease. This is a bit misleading. A healthy high-protein diet is not associated with heart disease. But if you are getting all of your protein from unhealthy sources that are loaded in unhealthy fats, obviously the risk for heart disease will increase.
- Kidney problems. Some believe that high protein and low carbohydrate diets – when done long term – can possibly cause kidney issues, but more research needs to be done.
While this list may seem alarming, it’s important to remember that many of these side effects are only associated with highly excessive protein diets coupled with unbalanced nutrition and/or dehydration. And this list pales in comparison to the side effects of protein deficiency, which includes general illness, loss of hair, loss of sleep, poor coordination, vision problems, etc.
The average person needs about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Active individuals may require .6 grams. People that exercise frequently and at a high intensity – like myself – require about a gram per pound of body weight. Bodybuilders and athletes may require even more.
With protein, it’s okay to act a bit like Goldilocks. You don’t want too little or too much – but an amount that’s just right.