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How much is too much protein in your diet?

July 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
How much protein did you eat today? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, protein should make up 26 percent of our daily diet. And many people add to that with protein bars, shakes and other supplements. But can you have too much protein?

In 12 months, Kim Hastings went from 26- to 13-percent body fat and lost 12 pounds. She credits two things: a boot-camp class and a lot of protein.

"I take over 200 grams of protein a day," said Hastings. "I think an average person probably takes about a hundred."

Certified personal trainer Bryan Daskam says most of us don't get enough protein.

"People need more protein? Yeah, especially if you're going to exercise. Even if you're not exercising, you have to," said Daskam.

Labels on all kinds of foods are pushing extra protein. But sports medicine specialist Doctor Kim LeBlanc says we don't need it.

"The normal diet even when it's not really terrific, the normal diet will have enough protein in it. If you eat too much protein you will turn it into fat," said LeBlanc, professor and chair of family medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center.

A formula from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has a formula for you to determine what you need. Say you weigh 130 pounds. Divide your weight by 2.2, then multiply that by 0.8. Your recommended daily protein would be 47 grams.

So are current guidelines enough?

"There's just no way," said Daskam. "I start with about a gram per pound of body weight, minimum, with an exercising female."

Dr. LeBlanc believes that's overdoing it.

"There's no data to say you need any more that what is recommended," said LeBlanc.

Some studies suggest women on low-calorie diets and seniors might not be getting enough protein. Currently the government recommends two daily servings for a total of 5 ounces. While consuming a bit more protein can provide a sense of fullness, eating too much can cause stress on the kidneys.

But Kim Hastings says no matter what anyone says, she's sticking to it.

"You know I've seen the changes in my body so I think high protein is the way to go," said Hastings.

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