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Is Too Much Protein Bad for You, Watchfit Expert Breaks the Protein Myth


London, UK -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/03/2014 -- Protein is a necessary dietary component for everyone, especially for athletes and children. But there is a sensible amount that should be consumed without any adverse effects on health. Dietary protein can lead to a decrease in fat mass and an increase in lean mass, but too much protein can be hard on the kidneys, Doug Wheeler, MA, CSCS, FMT I&II claims.

The Bad In Protein

The outcome of a recent study, Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population, showed that a lower protein intake was associated with a reduction in cancer, overall mortality, and IGF-1 in adults under 65 years old but not in older adults. This study was published in Cell Metabolism in March of 2014. Before tossing out all the protein in your cupboards and refrigerator, many things must be considered, including the fact that this is only one study and many other studies have shown that having a relatively higher dietary protein intake can be healthy or have no adverse effects.

IGF-1, for those who are not familiar is insulin-like growth factor 1. This protein behaves in a way similar to insulin, hence the name insulin-like growth factor. Insulin and IGF-1 are not necessarily harmful or bad; in fact for many athletes having high concentrations of these in the blood throughout training phases is desirable. The common diet though, causes levels of these proteins to increase at undesirable times, leading to health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Through proper diet and nutrition, though, these protein hormones can be used to increase lean muscle mass and other desirable physiological responses.

“This study, however, must not just be taken at face value, but rather must be scrutinized and compared to prior research”, the expert explains.

It is true that an increase in dietary protein will lead to higher levels of IGF-1, which can cause tumors to grow much faster, so a lower protein diet will stop this from happening. However in this study, as with many nutritional studies, the researchers did not monitor the subjects, they were only given a survey that they then returned to the researchers.

The researchers only provide us with the average breakdown of the macronutrients of the respondents, with an average daily caloric intake of 1,823 calories 51% of which was from carbohydrates, 33% of which was from fats, and 16% from protein. The researchers did specify that 11% of the protein was derived from animal protein. However, the researchers did not give any more details of the diet, such as whether or not it consisted of mostly processed foods or fresh foods. The macronutrient breakdown is not the best possible, however it is relatively healthy if the diets of respondents consisted of fresh, or unprocessed foods. For animal protein alone, eating a piece of fresh meat, such as a lean chicken breast or even a steak, is much healthier than getting that same amount of protein and fat from sausages, bologna, or other processed meat products.

The Good In Protein

Another recently published statement from a popular television personality states just the opposite of this study, that a higher dietary protein intake is healthier and leads to lower obesity rates and higher weight loss, along with an increase in the overall metabolic rate of the body. Although this statement was not based on one single research study, many previous dietary studies have supported this idea that a higher dietary protein intake leads to many benefits.

Increasing dietary protein while staying within reasonable levels is healthy. Dietary protein can aid in weight loss because protein requires more water to digest properly, leading to a fuller feeling after fewer calories. Also, previous studies have shown that many people are not eating adequate amounts of protein, and so by increasing dietary protein along with an exercise regimen have led to greater weight loss in adults over 40 versus exercise alone. Those who consumed more protein also lost more fat mass overall compared to the control group who lost greater amounts of lean mass.

“Too much protein, though, can be hard on the kidneys. The kidneys must filter the blood and high levels of proteins and amino acids cause the kidneys to work in overdrive.” Wheeler concludes.

The more protein consumed, the more water that must also be consumed in order to keep concentrations in the blood from increasing, along with aiding in digestion.

The Take-Home Message

The take-home message is this: Protein is healthy and is required for life. However, as with many others, there can be too much of a good thing. Be sensible with dietary protein. For athletes and active people, there is a higher amount of protein required. For average people there is not that requirement and so lower levels of dietary protein will suffice. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to get protein from the diet.

Protein supplements are not bad but should not be the sole source of protein—they are supplements. For vegetarians and vegans, there are many sources of protein available, from some vegetables, tofu, and even others. For those that eat meat, choosing fresh meat and fish rather than processed foods are much healthier sources of quality protein without excess fat and preservatives. Greek yogurt and kefir are also good sources of protein and good carbs, and they are both fairly easy to make in your own kitchen rather than purchasing directly from the grocery store.

About WatchFit
WatchFit is a health and wellness web platform with an expanding library of top-quality material provided by athletes, coaches and experts across various topics related to health, fitness performance and diet. Watchfit has recently launched a free app, providing entire plans by internationally renowned experts, Olympic medalists, and celebrity trainers, covering all fitness and dietary aims and goals.

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