Protein: how much is too much? If you’re trying to lose weight, add more muscle or are just trying to eat healthier, you likely might be loading up on protein. High-protein diets are often recommended as a weight loss miracle, some like Atkins, however, get a lot of that protein from fat rather than lean protein sources, so it’s doubly questionable. Promoted as a fat-loss solution and for building muscle–usually by diet programs, or supplement manufacturers with powders, shakes and bars – the fact of the matter is that most of us simply don’t need additional protein. And taking supplements is costly, not real satisfying as a food and offers no proof that you simply shouldn’t just eat a well balanced diet. Many of us over 50 may have specific goals, so let’s address them.
Losing Weight – It’s All About the Calories
Weight loss boils down to simple math, calories in versus calories out. We’ve said this before, you lose weight by eating fewer calories than you use as fuel or burn, regardless of the caloric source. And if you add a bunch of protein supplements to your diet, guess what? You’re adding calories too and you’ll pack on pounds, not lose. And don’t forget that protein rich foods come with other nutrients as well, so if you replace those foods with supplements, you cheat yourself out of some vital nutrients. The 50plusPlusFitMeal Plan offers a balanced approach that can be easily adapted to a reduced calorie diet for over 50, as well as senior nutrition and weight loss.
Yes, high-protein, low-carb diets will lead to initial weight loss, but that weight drop comes primarily from water, and it is fleeting. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, high-protein diets are no more effective for weight loss than low-fat or Mediterranean diets. Remember, it is simple math, and you will lose the same amount of weight with any reduced-calorie diet. Our Online Personal Trainer diet and exercise tracker has a selection of diets to meet your personal preferences and needs, like vegetarian and food allergies considerations.
Building Muscle Mass – Is it More Protein?
Dietary protein is important for protein synthesis, the process that builds muscle, but even professional athletes don’t need much more protein than the average person, per the National Institutes of Health. Remember that pro athletes like anyone getting a good deal of physical activity, need plenty of fuel and that comes primarily and most easily from carbohydrates. High-protein diets are not linked to increased muscle mass. Those athletes trying to build muscle will meet their protein needs by increasing caloric intake with a well balanced diet, all of which is necessary for muscle gain. At 50 plus you can actually follow their lead.
So… Too Much Protein in Your Diet?
Protein is a very, very important nutrient, but then so are carbs and and fats, yes fat. Protein is in every cell in the body, and is without question essential for healthy skin, hair and something not so obvious, your internal organs. But we Americans are carnivores, so we eat double the recommended daily allowance, thus we get way more protein than we really need. Ever try that Atkins diet? If so you’ve more than likely had diarrhea. Oh fun, huh? Plus research has shown that too much protein can cause more serious side effects like bone demineralization. Not good!
The average adult should get 10 to 35 percent of total calories from protein, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, include a serving of lean, high-quality meats in most meals. You can also source significant protein from beans, low-fat cheese, seafood and tofu. And these sources not only satisfy your taste buds and satiety, they are considerably more affordable.
Supplements of any kind are really only necessary with a poor diet. So save your money and choose quality natural foods. Bon appetite!