For as long as I can remember, there have been dueling ideas about what you can eat, how much you should eat, and the benefits of eating this or that.

  • Drink eight glasses of water a day… No — drink a gallon of water a day.
  • Eat egg yolks… Don’t eat egg yolks.
  • Bread is bad… Don’t criminalize bread!

I could go on and on. But I know you get it, and I know you’ve felt the pressure of sifting between what’s true and what’s untrue.

Today, I want to drill down to the truths about protein. There are too many self-purported experts out there stretching potential truths into “health concerns.”

Let’s break down three common myths about protein consumption.

Myth 1: Eating too much protein damages your kidneys

How many grams of protein should you eat? All of them.

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

Some sources say that eating more than the USDA recommended amount of protein can cause kidney damage. There has never been a study showing that people with normal kidney function will damage their kidneys with high intakes of protein. Instead, this myth seems to be based on those who already have kidney damage. In my years in clinical practice, I’ve found that most people are consuming far too little protein.

Busted: If your kidneys aren’t damaged, it is unlikely your protein consumption will damage them.

Myth 2: High protein intake contributes to poor bone health

Some experts say that high protein intake changes the bone-calcium interaction. Let me be frank — I have never treated a patient who consumes a lot of protein who also has poor bone health. That anecdotal evidence aside, there is real science to back up why this is. When your calcium and Vitamin D intakes are appropriate, protein actually plays a vital role in preserving bone health. When you have a high protein intake, but low calcium and Vitamin D intake, there may be some potential harm.

Simple solution? Take the calcium and Vitamin D supplements your doctor always recommends.

Busted: High protein intake can actually preserve bone health.

Myth 3: High protein intake, especially meat, can cause cancer and heart disease

Recently, a number of studies have been released contradicting exactly this notion. A lot of modern meats are processed, and the more popular ones have a large amount of saturated fat. High saturated fat intake has long been associated in America with low intake of fruits and vegetables, which are the natural protectors against cancer and heart disease.

We cannot assume that high protein intake also means an absence of these warrior foods. There are too many factors involved in both cancer and heart disease to place the blame squarely on a high protein diet.

Busted: Many factors contribute to cancer and heart disease, and these diseases are not affected by meat consumption alone.

Did You Know? The word protein is derived from the Greek word meaning “of prime importance.”

Protein is Essential

Proteins are an essential food group, in every sense of the word. Every time I talk health or weight loss maintenance with my clients, I make sure they know this. I constantly work with them to make sure there is adequate protein in their diet. I am convinced that successful long-term weight loss starts with consuming adequate protein on a consistent basis.

The RDA recommends 0.8g/kg or 0.36g/lb is sufficient protein for everyone, but their recommendations are not one-size-fits-all. If you are an athlete, particularly a strength and power athlete, or if you are a sick or woefully stressed patient, the amount of protein you require will far exceed that amount.

Set up an appointment with your doctor or a holistic nutritionist (or me!) to get a customized plan for your body, your health levels, and your goals.

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