When starting a new fitness routine, you may be tempted to stock up on various protein shakes, bars and meats to help aid muscle development and growth. A little extra protein is great for building muscle, but did you know you can have too much of a good thing? Here are a few signs you may be consuming too much protein:
- You are gaining weight: If you have started adding protein shakes and bars to your fitness routine without reducing your overall caloric intake, you may find yourself gaining weight. A group of researchers has found that individuals who overeat when following a high-protein diet gained the same amount of weight as those who follow an unhealthy, junk food-laden one. The protein eaters gained a higher amount of lean muscle mass, yet still gained several pounds of fat as well. Many foods, such as protein bars, contain high amounts of sodium, sweeteners and calories, all of which hinder weight loss and cause weight gain.
- High cholesterol levels: Animal-based protein sources, such as steak, contain varying levels of cholesterol, which can lead to medical conditions such as stroke or heart attack. The average adult should limit their cholesterol intake to 200 milligrams per day. This can be difficult since even a single roasted chicken breast contains 83 milligrams. Try to eat more foods such as nuts to increase your protein consumption without the worry of high cholesterol levels.
- Brain fog: Do you feel as though you can’t concentrate, or are forgetting where you put your keys more often? This could be a result of consuming too much protein. After eating a high-protein food, your body releases a toxin called ‘ammonia’, which is harmless in small amounts. If enough ammonia is released over an extended time, the liver can become overworked, causing ammonia to build up in the bloodstream. This leads to forgetfulness and confusion.
- Painful urination: If you experience pain during urination, or have an aching feeling in your lower back, you may be suffering from kidney stones. Consuming too much protein can place a tremendous strain on the kidneys, which can lead to the development of kidney stones. Drinking plenty of clean water every day will help the kidneys flush out excess protein and prevent this painful condition.
Good-quality sources of protein are foods such as yogurt, tofu, nuts, egg whites and seafood. All of these foods contain not only protein, but also healthy fats (except egg whites) to help protect the heart.
Aim to consume one serving of protein per meal to maintain lean muscle mass.