During the week reports surfaced of a woman who died while preparing for a body building show. It was reported that she was on a high protein diet, was taking protein supplements and that these had contributed to her death.
The Death certificate listed an “intake of bodybuilding supplements” as causes of her death. While this is certainly alarming and the media ran with the story, it focused more on the sensational side of it, rather than the whole truth of what happened.
The woman in question had an undiagnosed urea cycle disorder and it was reported that; “People with the disorder have enzyme deficiency, preventing protein from breaking down properly. This leads to a build-up of ammonia in the bloodstream which poisons the brain, eventually leading to brain damage, coma and death.”
While the supplements were being blamed for her death and were included in the medical reports, the reality is that any type of protein would have led to the same result.
The type and source wouldn’t have mattered as her inability to process it was the issue, not the protein itself.
With this in mind, is there a case where too much protein would be harmful to our health and could cause the same effects?
The current recommendations are around 0.8g per KG of bodyweight. This means that a 50kg sedentary female would need 40g of protein per day. A 70kg sedentary male would need 56g of protein per day. If we look at 100g of cooked chicken, it has 30g of protein in it, so going by the current guidelines, a large chicken breast would give you almost all the necessary protein per day. But, this is the absolute minimum recommended for a sedentary person to prevent a deficiency.
However, is this enough if you are active or if you are training on a regular basis?
Some of the more recent studies done on Protein intake would disagree.
For the elderly, is recommended that their intake should be around 50% higher at 1.0 – 1.3g per kg of bodyweight to “minimize the sarcopenia of aging and thereby protect against some of the health risks of aging.”
This brings our 50kg female up to 65g of protein per day and our 70kg make up to 91g per day.
If you are an endurance athlete, the recommendations are around 1.2 – 1.4g per kg of bodyweight.
This would bring our 50kg female up to 70g per day and our 70kg male up to 98g per day.
For weight loss, protein has been shown to be effective in sparing muscle mass and keeping appetite under control.
The recommendations fall between 1.8g – 3g per kg of bodyweight.
So, our 50kg female would be on a max of 150g per day and our 70kg male would be on a max of 210g per day.
What about supplements, are they needed and are they safe?
The way to look at it is this;
> Do you find it hard to eat enough protein for your needs?
> Will supplementing make it easier to meet these needs?
> Is it a cost-effective way of doing this?
That is the 3 ways that I look at supplementing protein needs.
If someone can get enough from their diet without having to supplement, then that is perfect.
You do not have to take protein supplements.
Are they harmful to your health?
That would depend on where you are buying them from and how you are using them.
Always look for a reputable company that is quality assured and will pass any testing that your chosen sport may have if you are a competitive athlete.
Kinetica are an Irish brand that pass all these. If you want to know more, you can find it here.
As you can see, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to protein intake.
You have certain variables to consider as discussed above.
If you find this confusing and don’t know where to start, have a look at this guide from Precision Nutrition.
It breaks it down into an easy to follow visual guide and will ensure that you are meeting your protein needs no matter what your goal is.
If you would like to join our Rushe Fitness community, our next Fit in 42 Program starts on August 28 th and we have limited availability left.
If you would like more information on this, please contact me through the link below.
* Emmet is the owner and operator of Rushe Fitness