How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?
The subject of how much protein you should eat for optimal health has divided opinions within the health and fitness world. Some bodybuilders recommend eating 10 chicken breasts per day or more while other health enthusiasts believe that eating even a small amount of protein with every meal is too much and that we should eat at least one protein free meal per day for optimal health. In this article I’m going to look at both sides of the argument and answer the question – how much protein should you be eating?
The Argument For Eating Large Amounts Of Protein
Protein is one of the three main nutrients your body needs to survive (with the other two being carbohydrates and fats). It is responsible for building, maintaining and repairing all your body’s cells and it has a number of other essential functions within the body which include:
- Boosting your immune system
- Building muscle
- Keeping your vital organs healthy
- Maintaining an optimal metabolism
- Supporting healthy digestion
Proponents of high protein diets argue that eating this way is the best way to build muscle, burn body fat and maintain a lean, healthy physique. They believe that not eating enough protein inhibits muscle growth, minimizes fat burning and also prevents the body from performing the above functions optimally.
The Argument For Not Eating Large Amounts Of Protein
Studies have shown that consuming excessive amounts of protein can have negative health consequences. Not only does overdosing on protein negate the health benefits listed above but it can also lead to:
- Increased body fat levels
- Kidney stones
- Weak bones
People who believe less protein is optimal argue that consuming protein with every meal has little benefit and leads to the health complications listed above. They believe the best way to enjoy the benefits of protein without the complications is to consume it moderately.
How To Get The Right Balance
As with many things related to health and fitness, balance is the key when it comes to consuming protein. If you follow the three simple rules below, you’ll be easily able to balance your protein consumption and enjoy all its benefits with none of the risks:
- Make sure your total daily calorie consumption is in line with your basal metabolic rate (use this this calculator to find out what your basal metabolic rate is)
- Make sure at least 20% of your daily calories come from protein
- Make sure that no more than 70% of your daily calories come from protein
- If you do a lot of cardiovascular exercise, try and keep your protein consumption towards the lower end of the scale.
- If you do a lot of strength training and want to build muscle, try and keep your protein consumption towards the high end of the scale
The optimal amount of protein you should be eating for good health is actually quite flexible and will depend largely on your fitness goals. As long as you don’t go to extreme levels in either direction with your protein intake, you’ll be able to benefit from this vital macronutrient without putting your health at risk.