You probably hear about the importance of protein in your diet, but may not know why it’s important or really how much you should get and what foods should you eat to get it. There’s a lot of different theories about how much protein you need, based on your goal. Whether you follow a higher protein diet to keep you feeling fuller or a traditional healthy diet that’s lower in protein, keeping protein intake within certain perimeters is important to your health. Over long periods of time, too much is just as bad as not enough.
How much is enough?
The amount of protein you need is based on several factors, age, physical activity, gender and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding all play a role in determining the amount of protein you should eat in a day. The average person needs approximately 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. For those who are more active, 0.5 to 0.9 grams per pound of weight is important. As you age, your ability to process protein declines, so you might need more in your diet. Pregnant and lactating women also need extra protein.
Protein plays a role in every cell in your body.
Every cell has protein. It’s used to repair tissues and build cells. It acts as messengers when used in hormones and is included in making enzymes, plus many other chemicals in the body. It’s the building block of hair, fingernails, skin, blood, bones, muscle and cartilage, so you have a lot of it and need a lot for repair and replacement. However, protein isn’t stored and unlike fat, has no reserve to draw on if food is not available.
Not enough protein is harmful if it continues over a long time.
You won’t get sick from lack of protein in a day or even two. It’s chronic lack of protein that creates a problem. It can cause loss of muscle strength, cause muscle cramping, weakness and soreness, since the protein for muscle tissue is diverted to vital functions. It can hamper mental functioning, cause edema, organ failure and weaken the immune system. Severe lack of protein leads to kwashiorkor and marasmus. Kwashiorkor and marasmus are mostly in young children and mostly seen in third world countries where severe starvation occurs.
- Excess protein in the diet can also cause health issues, like indigestion and intestinal problems, plus exhaustion, dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, headache and irritability with more severe excess causing disorders of the blood vessels, seizures, kidney disease, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and even death.
- If you weighed 110 pounds and ate a pound of steak every day, but no other protein, you wouldn’t be eating excess protein. Eating more than 2.2 grams per pound is when it starts to get dangerous.
- Protein supplements, not diet, tends to be the biggest problem where excess protein occurs. If you’re working out hard, building muscle tissue or are elderly with digestive issues, you may need it.
- Your breath will give away an over-consumption of protein. Excess protein causes breath to have a smell that doesn’t go away with tooth brushing or flossing.
For more information, contact us today at Evolution Lifestyle