Protein is undoubtedly one of the most important nutrients in your daily diet, but it’s also possible to overeat, especially if you’re on a high-protein diet like the Atkins or Paleo diet. Here’s how to know when to get too much protein.
Why do we need protein?
Protein is an important part of our diet. We need it to feel full, energized, build and repair muscles, process nutrients, and boost immunity, among other vital functions. “Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of human tissue, including muscles, blood vessels, hair, skin, and nails. It’s also involved in the production of enzymes and hormones that help the body function properly,” says registered dietitian Dr. McMordie.
Why are these amino acids so important?
There are some amino acids that the body can synthesize, but others, called essential amino acids, we must get from our diet. Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, milk, and eggs, contain all 9 essential amino acids. Most plant-based protein sources do not have adequate amounts of all amino acids, that’s why vegetarians need to consume a variety of protein sources to get all the essential amino acids.
Protein is especially important if you exercise regularly. Not only does protein build muscle, but it also repairs and maintains it. Like all living tissue, muscle cells have life. They eventually need to be replaced, so repair and maintenance are key roles for dietary protein.
As a general rule, Immer recommends aiming for 140 grams per day for men and 110 grams for women.
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