CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH PROTEIN?

Written by: ASN

|

|

Time to read 5 min

You know what they say… too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. Is that the case with protein? Unfortunately, it can be. We’re not saying that a high-protein diet is bad, but if that high-protein diet is low in other macronutrients, then you may find yourself in a bit of an imbalance.

What is protein?

Come on; surely you can tell us this one? And no, your ‘chocolate-flavoured WPI’ isn’t an adequate answer.

Protein is an essential macronutrient and is found throughout your body in your muscle, bone, skin, hair and more. There are at least 10,000 different proteins that form the blueprint of your body (Harvard School of Public Health).

Made from over twenty different amino acids, dietary protein is primarily found in meats like beef, lamb, pork and poultry, as well as dairy products like milk and cheese, or sources including eggs, soy, rice and fish. If you’re on a plant-based diet, some of the best sources include legumes, nuts & seeds, whole grains and more.

If you are looking for a protein powder to suit your goals, check out our best protein powders.
 


Are high-protein diets good for you?

How much protein should I eat? That’s the question we all want the answer to. For most people who are healthy and workout regularly, a high-protein diet can be effective if you’re trying to lose weight. When you consume a high-protein diet without increasing your carbs, you can lose weight by losing water. Without those extra carbs, your body begins to burn more fat for fuel (Felson, S. 2022).

However, if you aren’t consuming enough sources of fibre and other crucial nutrients, you may find yourself in an imbalance by eating too much protein and not enough other nutrients. This can lead to negative side effects.

A lot of high-protein diets will limit your intake of fibre, but making an effort to increase your consumption of whole grains can help you maintain a healthy intake. Fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a balance of carbohydrates while consuming fish can nourish your diet with healthy fats (Felson, S. 2022).

Signs you are consuming too much protein

So, how much protein is too much protein? Your recommended dietary allowance of protein can differ depending on factors like age, gender and activity levels can play a role in determining how much protein you should consume on a daily basis. The general recommendation for adults is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight for an everyday person (Huizen, J. 2018). For a physically active adult, the RDA ranges from:

1.0g per kilogram of body weight for a minimally active person

1.3g per kilogram of body weight for a regularly active person

1.6g-2g per kilogram of body weight for somebody who trains at intense levels


What happens if you eat too much protein? Here are some of the most obvious signs. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of too much protein, you may want to trim back on the amount of protein shakes you take or increase the number of carbs you’re consuming to keep your levels balanced.

Let's jump into the most common symptoms of too much protein:

You are constipated

How much protein is too much protein? Well, if you’re constipated, you may have taken too much protein. Generally speaking, people who consume too much protein typically restrict their intake of carbohydrates, which also decreases their consumption of fibre. This can cause constipation due to the imbalance of fibre in your diet.

Foods that are high in fibre (like fruits, veggies, and whole grains) are also high in carbohydrates. Fibre is essential in feeding healthy gut bacteria, promoting bowel regularity and supporting digestive health, which can all reduce the risk of constipation (Sayer, A. 2022).

You are urinating frequently

Are you running to the bathroom far more often than usual? As strange as it sounds, that might be a symptom of too much protein.

Your kidneys play an important role in the metabolism of proteins and peptides, but they can only do so much at once. Feeling the symptoms of too much protein? That's because the waste from the protein that is being broken down can build up in your system and can create a more acidic environment that leaves you needing to urinate far more often than usual (Wicks, L. 2023).

You’re experiencing changes in mood

What happens if you eat too much protein? Your mood might drop. Another symptom of too much protein and not enough carbs is changes in mood. Eating too much protein in a day may impact your mood due to your protein-to-carb ratio being too far off balance. A 2020 study suggested that a low-carb diet may be associated with mood changes and symptoms of stress and anxiety. There is a theory that carbohydrates are responsible for releasing serotonin in your body, which is a hormone that controls your mood and positivity. Basically, if you’re consuming too much protein in a day and not matching that with enough carbs can negatively affect your mood (Wicks, L. 2023).

You have bad breath

Can you eat too much protein in a day? Yes. If your diet is too protein-heavy, you may notice (or others may notice for you) that your breath doesn’t smell as good as it usually might. This is especially the case if you are restricting the amount of carbohydrates that you consume in your diet (Cronkleton, E. 2023).

The best way to counter bad breath is to increase the frequency that you brush your teeth, consume far more water than you normally do, and chew gum to counter some of the effects.

You have brain fog

While experiencing brain fog may feel like a symptom of fatigue or sickness, you will find it might actually be because you are eating too much protein in a day. As we’ve touched on already, consuming too much protein may disrupt your protein-to-carb balance if you’re not consuming enough carbohydrates in your diet. Given carbs are your brain’s primary energy source, if you consume too much protein and your levels are out of balance (Tigar, L. 2022).
 


The Bottom Line

Protein is an essential part of your diet, but that doesn’t mean it should dominate your entire diet. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of too much protein, then it might be time to re-evaluate your diet or balance it out with more carbohydrates and healthy fats.

If you are shopping for a new protein powder and need help choosing the right one to support your goals or would like more advice on balancing your protein intake, our dedicated team are always eager to help. At ASN, we have a comprehensive range of protein powders, from vegan protein to weight-loss protein and can offer protein powders to support all of your goals and dietary needs. Just visit us in-store or reach out online for more help finding the right ones.

 

References

Felson, S. 2022, ‘High-Protein Diets: Do They Work?’ Nourish by WebMD, accessed 14 April 2023, https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-high-protein-diet


Harvard School of Public Health. ‘Protein’, Harvard T.H.Chan, accessed 14 April 2023, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/


Huizen, J. 2018, ‘How much protein is too much?’ Medical News Today, accessed 13 April 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322825


Sayer, A. 2022, ‘Can You Eat Too Much Protein? 8 Signs You Are Overdoing It’, Marathon Handbook, accessed 13 April 2023, https://marathonhandbook.com/can-you-eat-too-much-protein/


Wicks, L. 2023, ‘6 Signs You Could Be Eating Too Much Protein’, Eating Well, accessed 13 April 2023, https://www.eatingwell.com/article/291875/6-signs-you-could-be-eating-too-much-protein/#:~:text=Eating%20too%20much%20protein%20for,for%20heart%20disease%20and%20cancer.


Cronkleton, E. 2023, ‘Are There Risks Associated with Eating Too Much Protein?’ Healthline, accessed 13 April 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/too-much-protein


Tiger, L. 2022, ‘7 Silent Signs You Could Be Eating Too Much Protein’, Taste of Home, accessed 13 April 2023, https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/signs-eating-too-much-protein/#:~:text=Feeling%20fatigued%20might%20have%20you,actually%20shrink%2C%E2%80%9D%20Immer%20explains.