Stanford professor says Americans' love affair with overeating protein results in fat gain

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protein - that muscle building fuel that we hear keeps us satisfied longer has a reputation for being the component for staying lean and healthy. But are we consuming too much?

"I'm a nutrition scientist and I'm kind of baffled at how much people are obsessed with protein," said Stanford University's Dr. Christopher Gardener, who wants you to know how our bodies use it.

So what happens if you overeat protein? It becomes extra fat.

"There's no place to store it," Gardener said.

Too much protein is just like any excess calories. That's not to say we don't need it, but we may be eating too much protein.

The recommended daily average, set by the National Academy of Medicine, is 56 grams for men and 46 grams per day for women. But on average, in the US, we consume 111 grams per day.

Although Gardener and others contend it, it isn't realistic to offer a "set" number.

Why? The amount you need is determined by your age, weight, gender, physical activity, even the type of exercise you do.

Rather than count, Gardner suggests "the protein flip."

Instead of the Standard American Diet, try protein as a condiment to your plate.

A couple protein ounces along with a balance of complex carbs such as whole grains and produce, plus healthy fats. At the end of the day, you still have more than needed.

Dietitian Ashley Koff suggests people take baby steps.

"The majority of people, their diets are like a D+ or a C-. We are not winning if we talk to them about how they need to be an A+," Koff said. "When you eat your protein is also important. Many Americans eat a high carbohydrate breakfast and a protein heavy dinner."

The recommendation is to eat small amounts throughout the day and let that protein work for you.
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