IS THERE SUCH A
THING AS TOO MUCH PROTEIN?
Americans actually eat much more protein than they need! The RDA
(Recommended Dietary Allowances) for protein is only 44 grams
per day for women and 56 grams per day for men. But most Americans
on a typical high-meat-and-milk-product diet exceed these levels
by several fold. Young males rarely consume less than three times
the RDA for protein. We have a fascination for protein that approaches
the ridiculous. Even hair sprays and shampoos are sold on the
basis of their protein content.
Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence indicates that consuming
too much protein is not only foolish; it can be harmful. As you
consume more than the RDA of protein, you also begin to excrete
calcium in your urine. In the United States, where dietary protein
is so high, scientists believe we need 800 milligrams per day
to compensate for the calcium loss caused by excess protein. Physicians
in America often prescribe even more than the RDA of calcium for
postmenopausal women to prevent osteoporosis. But in other countries,
300-400 milligrams of calcium per day is considered to be plenty.
In Third World countries, mothers nurse their young for 20 months
or more without any apparent ill effect on their bones, despite
what Americans would call a low-calcium diet. Why should U.S.
women have calcium loss on 1000 milligrams per day while black
African women have almost none despite only 300 milligrams per
day and lengthy breast feeding?
The answer seems to be that a high-protein diet with its very
high calcium-to-phosphorus ratios fosters calcium loss. High-protein
diets and high-protein drinks can be bad for you. Excess protein
can be considered toxic - there are bad side effects. Besides
losing calcium in your urine, consuming excess protein stresses
the liver and kidney. These organs must work harder to get rid
of nitrogen, ammonia, and urea - breakdown products of protein
which your body must excrete.
If you are consuming a correct number of calories each day (at
least 1700 for men and 1200 for women) but are getting excess
protein, try eating more calories from complex carbohydrates and
fewer from protein.
In conclusion, protein malnutrition in the United States is almost
1. We get plenty of calories (if we choose to).
2. Plant proteins are better than we thought.
3. Most people eat two or more proteins at each meal.
4. Most people vary their proteins from day to day.
5. All essential amino acids do not have to be included at each