Sooner or later, you'll run into someone at the gym, office or all-you-can-eat buffet who raises an eyebrow at the amount of protein you're ingesting. Some may even tell you confidently that it can be bad for your health. Here's the truth: the only studies that have ever suggested that protein can cause kidney problems were done on people with pre-existing kidney problems. The studies showing that it's harmful to anyone else simply don't exist.
Protein is one of the most important components of the diet and when you eat a high-protein diet, you’re generally less hungry, eat less and lose weight as a result. Read our guide to the best high protein foods.
So what’s the right amount? Estimates vary one to four grams per kilo of bodyweight, per day, but most nutritionists agree that two grams is the minimum. As for how much you can digest at one sitting, at least 20-25g is required for muscle protein synthesis, although recent studies have found that the body can use nearly double that amount to build muscle. Plus protein-rich foods are generally very filling, so a large serving will help you avoid the temptation to snack.
The simple version: It’s almost impossible to eat too much protein, although you could easily not be getting enough. Stick to a high-protein diet and eat it with every meal.
Still confused? Nutrition expert and fitness model Scott Baptie answers all the pressing protein questions.
What is protein?
‘The word ‘protein’ comes from the Greek proteios meaning ‘primary’, which gives some indication of how important it is. In fact, it’s one of three key macronutrients – the others being carbohydrates and fats – and it’s vital for healthy immune, cellular and hormonal function. It’s also essential for building and maintaining tissues, including muscles. In terms of energy, 1g of protein provides four calories.’