by Dr. Matthew Chircop
Most Westerners consume more than enough protein. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that elite athletes who perform strenuous resistance training (and related events) consume about 1.5-1.7 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. For those who are overweight, you can calculate this based on what your ideal weight for your height would be (e.g. 180 cm tall male might have an ideal weight of 80 kg, but an actual weight of 120 kg. His ideal protein intake could be as little as 120 g per day).
Which would you prefer?
Inadequate amounts of protein, particularly when in a calorie deficit, can result in muscle loss, which is undesirable (read this), and potentially reduces your chances of successful long-term weight-loss.
Consuming too much protein can cause constipation, bloating, and flatulence. In the long term, there is a link between high protein diets and kidney stones (hence the need to ensure adequate water intake – read this), as well as bowel cancer. Not to mention, high protein diets are expensive to maintain.
It is safest to eat no more than 2.5 g of protein per kg of (ideal) body weight per day (particularly if combined with adequate fibre and water intake), but the lower the better (eating just enough to maintain or develop muscle mass).
Like fat, the main issue with high protein diets in the short term is that they limit the amount of other macronutrients that can be consumed (i.e. carbohydrates and fats).
Our main sources of protein are meat, fish/shellfish, dairy products, eggs, nuts, beans (including soybean products), as well as vegetables like broccoli and peas. Males and nursing mothers might want to consider how much soybean products they wish to consume, as there is possibly an oestrogen-like effect from these products.
It is tempting to replace meals with “protein shakes” to make it easier to achieve your target intake of protein without significantly increasing your saturated fat intake. I would suggest that the use of a protein supplement once day (e.g. as a post-workout snack) is probably going to be okay (as long as you aren't pregnant or breastfeeding). However, replacing multiple meals with protein shakes is probably not a good idea, as you would be at risk of micronutrient deficiencies. A reasonable alternative would be to fortify meals with protein powder (no more than 30-40 g added per meal).
Contact us if you would like to learn more about our meal plans to help your lose those pesky last few kilos.
We design personalised meal plans that contain recipes with food that you tell us you like - you don't have to deny yourself of the tasty food you love (help to reduce your STRESS).
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