When adjustments and comparisons are made with the mitigating factors, the daily protein needs of an individual are 0.8 gm/kg. For an average female (55kg) that would work out to 44 grams of protein daily and the average 70kg man at 56 grams of protein per day. Body builders require 1.12 times the sedentary amount (0.8 gm/kg), which would work out to 0.9 gm/kg. Endurance athletes require 1.67 times the sedentary rate or 1.3 gm/kg of body weight.
Therefore the average female body builder at 55kg (121 pounds) would need to consume 49.5 grams of protein daily. A male body builder at 100kg, would need to consume 90 grams of protein per day to build muscle and maintain.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no major increase in the protein requirements for body builders. The myth is that body builders need 3-4 times the protein of someone who is sedentary. FALSE. The fact is that the small intestines turn over protein daily; the liver turns over protein every two days and the skeletal muscles turn over protein every 60 days!
A non-drug using body builder would be happy to gain an addition 2 kg of muscle mass a year. That’s 2000 gm over 365 days, which equals an extra 5 grams of protein per day. That’s 5-7 % not a 300-400% increase as some would recommend.
Vegetarians and Vegans need to increase their sedentary protein intake to 1.0 gm/kg(vegetarians) and 1.5gm/kg (vegans) with similar increases for body builders and endurance athletes. This increase is due to the decreased availability of vegetable proteins and assuming a lacto-vegetarian. Vegans require massive intake of vegetable protein sources just to achieve the survival level of daily protein intake.
Now that we are clear on the math, what does this really mean as far as how much one needs to consume daily? Let’s look at some common protein sources and their available protein.
List of High Protein Foods from Processed & Meat Products
Values in the list of high protein food are average estimates!
Protein supplements are a fast and efficient way to gain all your high protein diet needs.
PROTEIN IN LEGUMES: Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Navy beans, Soybeans, Split peas
PROTEIN IN GRAINS: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Rye, Wheat germ, Wheat, hard red, Wild rice
VEGETABLE PROTEIN: Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green peas, Green pepper, Kale, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard green, Onions, Potatoes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnip greens, Watercress, Yams, Zucchini
PROTEIN IN FRUITS: Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe, Grape, Grapefruit, Honeydew melon, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon
PROTEIN IN NUTS AND SEEDS: Almonds, Cashews, Filberts, Hemps Seeds, Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts (black)
Eating too much animal protein has been directly linked to the formation of kidney stones and has been associated with cancer of the colon and liver.
5,65 Gary C. Curhan et al., “A Prospective Study of Dietary Calcium and Other Nutrients and the Risk of Symptomatic Kidney Stones,” The New England Journal of Medicine 328 (1993): 833-8.6 Kathleen M. Stadler, “The Diet and Cancer Connection,” Virginia Tech, Nov. 1997.
In the above charts, you will notice a few things. First, there is no column for calories from fat. Also many of the high protein sources are also high in carbohydrates. When looking at diet, we have to look at the balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. All three are required in your daily diet for cell formation, energy and in the case of this article, for muscle.
This is one of many charts on proteins that exists. Google and copy your favorite as you are planning your regimen. Always seek out the advice of a professional before making major changes in diet or exercise routines.
Risks of Excessive protein.
The four major risks of too much protein are: Kidney and Liver damage, Dehydration, Hypocalcemia, Osteoporosis, Kidney and Liver Damage.
What is too much protein? Anything greater then 30% of your total calories. For a women consuming between 1500-2000 calories per day that would be 450-600 calories from protein. Men tend to require greater daily caloric intake averaging from 2000-2500 calories per day which would means that 600-750 calories from protein is their upper limit.
Too much protein can lead to having ketones in the body. The much purported Atkins diet achieved this distinction from the heavy focus on consuming meats and fats. Increase ketones can lead to organ toxicity. The major organs affected are the Kidneys and Liver. When the Kidneys are overwhelmed this can lead to dehydration. This can show up as a weight loss (Atkins diet) but also a loss of muscle mass and calcium loss, resulting in weakness and fatigue. Is this really a problem?
The answer is a definitive YES. Increased protein digestion leads to decreases in pH. This lowered pH means the body and its systems (blood, digestion, etc.) become acidic. As the body and blood become acidic, there is an internal mechanism that wants to increase the pH to keep it more neutral (6.5 to 7). The acidity in the body leeches chemicals, especially Calcium which the body uses to help neutralize the acid. Lower Calcium causes what?
Hypocalcemia is the medical term for low calcium in the body. This loss of calcium is common in older individuals and manifests itself as Osteoporosis. This effects women and men, especially with heavy protein diets. The use of steroids achieves the same result. In addition, steroids deplete the sex hormones due to liver dysfunction as the result of usage.
Other health risks of high protein consumption results in protein in the urine due to the kidney and liver dysfunctions created. This results in lower serum albumin which is made in the liver and control water in the body. Lower albumin results in higher blood pressure, edema, water and sodium retention.
Where does this ultimately lead? Hyperlipedema; translated means fats in the blood. This shows up as high cholesterol, triglycerides and lower HDL (the good cholesterol). This can result in increased risk of infections, blood clots and other complications.
Hopefully this information has provided some basic answers to how much protein one should have and how much is too much. I encourage anyone interested in knowing how much they should or are consuming to talk with a licensed professional. Naturopaths have 4 years of nutrition, diet and exercise training. Holistic nutritionist are able to look at the whole picture of your diet, your goals and your plans to help tailor an eating protocol that best fits your requirements. Most trainers ARE not trained as nutritionists yet they are often found creating meal plans for clients. This may piss off some trainers who are currently exercising this practice. It is the equivalent of giving medical advice without the proper training or license.