By Dana Leigh Smith
One scan of the grocery store and it’s clear: our culture is obsessed with protein. From pudding and pancake mix to milk and yogurt, nearly everything has gotten pumped with an extra dose of the nutrient.
Protein aids muscle growth, wards off hunger and aids weight loss, so this culinary revolution may seem like a good thing. But don’t be fooled. Getting too much can have some serious consequences for your waistline and health. Not what you thought you were signing up for when you asked for that extra burger patty, was it?
Read on to discover the scary things that happen to your body when you eat too much protein.
Most people who down a lot of protein do so because they’re cutting back on carbs. And when you’re on a low-carb diet, the body turns to stored fat for energy. Though this may be a good thing for your abs (at first, at least), it’s not so great for your breath. “When you don’t eat enough carbs, the body burns fat and protein for fuel. It does so by a process called ketosis. Unfortunately, ketones have an awful smell that cannot be masked by brushing or flossing, ” says registered dietitian Isabel Smith. Cutting back on your daily dose of protein and upping your carbs can remedy the issue, as can doubling your water intake.
A high-protein, low-carb diet may help your extra pounds weight fly off initially, but it can actually cause weight gain in the long-term, according to a recent Spanish study. To come to this finding, researchers had more than 7, 000 study participants fill out questionnaires about their eating habits over the course of six years. After analyzing the data for commonalities, they found that the those who ate high-protein diets had a 90 percent greater risk of gaining more than 10 percent of their body weight during the course of the study than those who ate less of the stuff. Yikes!
Not only will you gain weight—the majority of the weight will be in the form of flab. You know those abs you worked so hard to uncover? Kiss those goodbye. When you take in more protein than your body needs (which is about 0.45 grams per pound for men and 0.35 grams per pound for women) the extra protein will likely be stored as fat, while the excess amino acids will simply be excreted. Our advice: Cut back on the protein and fill up on some of these 30 Foods That Uncover Your Abs for Under .
When you down a steak, chicken or any other source of the muscle builder, you also take in nitrogen, which is naturally occurring in the amino acids that make up proteins. When you’re consuming a normal amount of protein, you excrete the nitrogen, no harm, no foul. But when you eat a ton of the stuff, your kidneys have to go into overdrive to get rid of all the extra nitrogen, explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “In the short run, this isn’t harmful to most, but if you're a long-time high-protein dieter you could be increasing your risk for kidney damage, ” she warns.
You know all of the extra nitrogen we just told you about? Not only can it wreak havoc on your kidneys, but it can leave you feeling parched, too. The reason: “High amounts of nitrogen are toxic, so to stay safe the body uses fluids and water to flush it out, which can leave you feeling thirsty” explains Bjork. Increasing your water intake can counteract the effects. As can sipping these 14 Detox Waters That Banish Bloat.
According to a study that followed thousands of adults for nearly 20 years, those who eat a diet rich in animal protein are four times as likely to die of cancer than those who follow a low-protein diet. And other findings back the finding. In one study of over 7, 000 participants, researchers found that high-protein dieters had up a 66 percent greater risk of death during the study period than those who ate less protein.
When you down too many chicken breasts, protein shakes and eggs, your digestive enzymes can’t keep up with all the protein you are ingesting, says Bjork. “This can lead to indigestion and nausea. Easing up on your protein intake should easy your shaky stomach, ” she adds. Not sure what to replace your protein-rich eats with? These 25 Best Carbs That Uncover Your Abs are all healthy picks.
If you're looking for the perfect way to start your day, don't miss this easy and incredible protein shake recipe, compliments of Zero Belly Diet!