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Is there such a thing as too much protein in your diet?

By July 28, 2014 - 2:48pm
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My boyfriend is always looking to "bulk up" and is constantly researching his protein, carb and fat intake. It seems like he has protein at every meal. Is this healthy? If you can have too much protein what are the side effects and symptoms?

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Hello saradietz! Thank you for sharing your question with the EmpowHER community! With so much information on the Internet these days, good diet advise can be hard to find, not to mention confusing.  Many of our community members ask the same question about how much protein is too much?Hopefully I can help shed some light on your question.

Dietary protein is an essential nutrient that builds and repairs muscles, bones and organs. It also regulates hormones and aids in maintaining immune system function. Your age, sex, weight and physical activity level definitely plays a part in how much protein is ideal.

 Some experts suggest that 0.6 to 0.9 grams per pound per day is ok if you are an athlete or an adult who wishes to build muscle mass like your boyfriend.

I always suggest that people eat a balanced diet, one that incorporates all of the food groups. If you eat mainly protein-rich foods that come from animal products, you could be depriving your body of dietary fiber from plant proteins, which could lead to digestive problems, constipation or diverticulitis.

Consuming more than 200 grams of protein daily can put people at risk for a variety of different health conditions. Conditions you and your boyfriend should be aware of are:

-hyperaminoacidemia- an excess of amino acids.

- hyperammonemia- an excess of ammonia.

- hyperinsulinemia nausea- an excess of insulin.

Saradietz, I don’t think it’s bad to have protein at every meal as long as he is measuring how many grams he is actually eating over a 24 hour period.  More isn’t necessarily better.

I am glad to know that he is researching carb and fat intake. Again, all are necessary to be healthy. If he is depriving himself of some nutrients and only eating others in an effort to “bulk up”, then I would be concerned.

It’s obvious that you care about your boyfriend and want what’s best for him.  You might even be feeling a bit helpless if he is spending a lot of time at the gym and buying into the latest diet hype. On an interpersonal level, maybe join him at the gym a couple days a week so you can take an active role in helping him achieve his goals. This might also give you some insight about where and who he is getting his information from. Also, suggest to cook meals together and make sure they include a healthy balance of nutrients.  

Here is an article on 6 healthy foods that you can add when meal planning with your boyfriend:


Sometimes these conversations can be sensitive, I know they are with my husband who is a cyclist. Approach the conversation with concern, you don’t want to come across like you are judging him or non-supportive.

Hope this helps saradietz. Let me know how the chat with your boyfriend goes! 

July 29, 2014 - 12:47pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi saradietz

Thanks for your question! 

We are a protein-obsessed nation, aren't we?

Protein is a must-have for our diet. Protein is what keeps us strong - strong bones and muscles, and maintaining a good immune system, among other benefits. 

Women are advised to eat about 45 grams per day, with men at around 55 grams. Some people, like athletes, use more.

But with some protein bars containing 20 or 30 grams of protein, we tend to eat far more protein that we need. 

An over-emphasis on protein can cause us to be deficient in vitamins, minerals and fiber because we are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. The Atkins Diet came under fire for it's huge emphasis on protein to the detriment of other nutrients, causing kidney problems, bad gas and really bad breath! 

A lot of the protein we eat is not lean - causing weight gain. 

As well as kidney problems, there is thought to be a link between too much protein and diabetes as well as too many amino acids in the money and too much ammonia. 

A better balance for our body might be 30%  protein, 30% third fats and 40% carbs. This strikes a nice balance for many but is often lower in calories than other eating plans. What is needed is a healthy balance. 

My advice is to stick to a healthy diet with low-fat proteins and a plethora of fiber filled foods as well as "live" foods like fruits and vegetables (that can also contain protein like broccoli, potatoes, bananas and avocados as well as nuts. 

As long as protein is low fat, your boyfriend shouldn't have any trouble unless he has a history of kidney disease. There should be no real need for high protein bars and protein shakes. 

I hope this helps! 


July 29, 2014 - 12:13pm
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