Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Are High Protein Diets Harmful?

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Americans are crazy about protein. I once had a student whose food record indicated  he had consumed 280 grams of protein on an average day. He had added a couple of high protein shakes to his daily intake. If we look at a typical American diet in terms of the government’s MY PLATE, our animal protein foods often fill half of the plate instead of the recommended amount (1/4 of the plate).

The recommendations can be thought of in this way:

The Acceptable Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein is 10-35% of total calories for adults. This range is not associated with any known health risks.

A diet that provides only 10% of calories from protein meets the RDA but is on the low side since the average of energy from protein in the  typical U.S. diet is 16%.

The RDA for protein in adults is 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. For an adult weighing 70 kg (154 pounds) the recommended intake would be 56 g a day (70 x 0.8 g/kg/d = 56 g); for an adult weighing 59 kg (130 pounds) it would be 47 grams a day. On average, protein intake in the U.S. is about 90 g/day. (To convert pounds to kilograms, divide the pounds by 2.2). For example, 170 pounds /2.2 = 77 kilograms)

A quick and easy way to estimate your protein intake is to know the following :

Starch (1/3 c. pasta, 1/2 potato, 1 sl. bread)= 3 g. protein

Milk (1 cup) = 8 g. protein

Vegetables (1/2 c. cooked, 1 c.. raw) = 2 g. protein

Meats or Meat Substitute (4oz. beef, poultry, fish or cheese,  2 c. legumes) = 28 g. (4 oz is about the size of your palm.)

Fruits and any foods in the fat group have zero grams of protein.

Note: Protein needs are increased for growth, lactation, or when the body is injured.




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