With the popularity of “high-protein” diets, you might be tempted to believe you simply can’t overeat protein. But the truth is that consuming excessive protein can actually be quite detrimental to your health.Eating more protein than your body needs can interfere with your health and fitness goals in a number of ways, including weight gain, extra body fat, stress on your kidneys, dehydration, and leaching of important bone minerals.Granted, your body needs protein. Protein and its array of amino acids are the primary building blocks for your muscles, bones, and many hormones. You cannot live without it.As you age, and during pregnancy, consuming sufficient amounts of high-quality protein is especially important, as your ability to process protein declines with age, raising your protein requirements.
This is especially true for aging males. Protein helps preserve lean muscle that is typically lost with age. High quality proteins from pasture raised animals are more easily used by your body than those from plants.That said, there is an upper limit to how much protein your body can actually use. On average, Americans consume anywhere from three to five times more protein than they need for optimal health, along with far too many carbohydrates and not enough healthy fats.Meat consumption has risen dramatically in the US over the past century. Making matters worse, a large amount of this excess meat is typically poor quality, originating in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where the animals are mistreated and fed an unnatural diet of genetically engineered grains instead of fresh grass.Your goal should be a diet with enough—but not too much—high-quality protein from a variety of plant and animal sources.
Excess Protein May Fuel Weight Gain, Yeast Overgrowth, and Cancer
There are a number of reasons why I believe it’s prudent to limit your protein intake. The first is that if you eat more protein than your body requires, it will simply convert most of those calories to sugar and then fat. Increased blood sugar levels can also feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, such as Candida albicans (candidiasis), as well as fueling cancer cell growth.Excessive protein can have a stimulating effect on an important biochemical pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).This pathway has an important and significant role in many cancers. When you reduce protein to just what your body needs, mTOR remains inhibited, which helps minimize your chances of cancer growth.Additionally, when you consume too much protein, your body must remove more nitrogen waste products from your blood, which stresses your kidneys. Chronic dehydration can result, as was found in a study involving endurance athletes.
Lowering Your Protein Intake May Extend Your Lifespan
New studies have brought some additional insights into the protein discussion, as it relates to your longevity. Many animal studies have established that calorie restriction leads to increased longevity, but the latest science suggests this phenomenon may actually result more from reduced protein intake—specifically, reduced intake of the amino acid methionine, which happens to be high in meats.Yet, other new research suggests it may be the balance of amino acids that is the key, especially with other amino acids like glycine that may actually help lower methionine levels. How can you use this information to your advantage?Well, you can implement approaches like protein cycling in which you replicate ancestral patterns of going through feast and famine, which can help normalize your amino acid levels. That is one of the reasons why I am such a major fan ofintermittent fasting. Bone broth may also be particularly useful as it is especially high in glycine