High-protein diets have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their health and weight loss benefits, but research shows that consuming too much protein can actually be harmful. The question is – how much is too much? And how little is too little?
On the one hand, evidence shows that older adults — and especially women approaching menopause — are not as responsive to protein as they age. So they need more protein supplements in order to keep their body fat within limits and to fight muscle loss.
As such, the protein recommendation for adults is to consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight; more active women should be getting 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram. That translates into 54 to 68 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound woman.
You can read everything about protein requirements by age on a very recent and well-documented article on WellAndGood.com.
On the other hand, a high-protein diet study has bad news for heart patients: their excellent benefits in terms of weight loss comes with a major downside, an increased risk of heart attacks. This adds to other recent research that highlighted the potential damage the high-protein diets may have on the kidneys.
Now researchers discovered that this type of diet leads to a greater quantity of plaque in the dieter’s arteries, particularly unstable plaque that is more likely to rupture and end up blocking off an artery.
Admittedly, the study was conducted on mice. When the mice were administered 46-percent of their daily calories in the form of protein, they developed around 30-percent more arterial plaque. More worrisome is the composition of the said plaque. The researchers established that the plaque was a “macrophage graveyard”, the macrophages being precisely those immune cells that typically clean up the plaque from arteries. An arterial plaque containing such large quantities of dead immune cells is a heart attack waiting to happen. Mice or no mice.
The obvious conclusion is that you should really talk to your doctor when you feel like following a high-protein diet. There are medical conditions that could make you lose more than some extra weight.