The importance of proper protein balance

by Dr. Beth Lay, via,

Protein sourcesBack in my body building days, I was surrounded by protein-crazed men (and perhaps a few steroid-crazed ones as well). They were all consuming mass quantities of protein in the form of egg whites, tuna, protein bars, soy and whey protein powder shakes, especially immediately following a workout. There was some reason to their madness, however, the ever important appropriate balance seemed to be lacking in most of their diets and lives.

Back then I was going through my masters and doctorate programs in nutrition, searching and learning. I was also writing nutrition articles for Muscle and Fitness and Flex Magazines. They wanted tons of articles about protein for their body building, health and weight conscious readers.

Your protein intake is a very important part of your weight loss program. Protein should be eaten every time you eat to stabilize blood sugar levels and ward off hunger longer afterwards. This means eating a few rice cakes and a banana is NOT an acceptable snack. These type of foods cause a sharp increase in blood sugar followed by a crash, as well as increased hunger. Adding some protein like a small handful of almonds with that banana and skipping the processed rice cake, will serve you much better.

Eating the proper amount of protein is also very important. Eat a small amount of protein rich foods every time you eat AND, most important, avoid excess intake.

Your estimated daily goal of protein intake should be around .8 grams per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of your goal body weight (if you are trying to lose). Most women should aim for about 11-13 grams of protein 4 times a day, men about 14-20 grams, 4 times a day.

So for women, that’s about 2 eggs or 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or 2 oz of bison (cooked). For men, 3 small eggs, ¾ cup Greek yogurt, or 3 oz. of bison. (A 3 oz. steak is the size of a deck of cards.)

Do those serving sizes sound small? Not really. The body can only process and digest so much protein at a time. For the average person, the maximum amount the body can metabolize at once is around 20 grams.

Note: Some sources report the MAXIMUM as high as 30 grams, for perhaps a highly muscular male athlete, who has a superior digestive system. Consuming any excess will be excreted from the body (stressing the kidneys), stored as fat, or possibly used for energy if you are on a low carb diet, which I don’t recommend, and will discuss in another article.

Eating an excess of protein (especially in one serving) is a common problem today, not only contributing to the current obesity problem, but causing or contributing to other health problems as well due to it’s acidic affects on our pH. Processing high amounts of protein taxes the liver and kidneys, and can lead to serious problems down the road. High amounts of protein should especially not be taken by anyone with pre-existing kidney problems.

When I do happen to go out to eat, I often see 16 oz and 32 oz steaks on the menu. A 32 oz steak has approximately 245 grams of protein. 10 times more than what you can use! This is a ridiculous amount of protein the body cannot digest—so it either goes to the waist line or has to be excreted through the kidneys which is actually killing people. Overeating is killing people!

Even worse, throughout the country there are numerous “64 oz or 72 oz Steak Challenges.” They make you believe it is some kind of honor or achievement to consume this much food. 72 oz. of meat should serve a family of 24! No wonder we have obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics!

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