By: Kennedy Shelley
You may have heard that too much protein is hard on your kidneys. Or you can’t absorb more than 30 grams of protein at any given meal. Old people don’t need protein because they are not building muscle.
But you might have also heard that you can’t go swimming for 30 minutes after eating, which is an old wives’ tale with no medical evidence.
It turns out that we actually need more protein as we age, and these old ideas may stop some people from getting what they need.
So, let’s test these ideas when it comes to protein.
1 – KIDNEYS
What is the evidence that protein greater than what the government recommends is hard on the kidneys?
Phillips et. al. looked at all the studies to see if there was any scientific evidence that eating more than 100 grams of protein a day would hurt your kidneys.
The result was none.
It’s one of those ideas that makes some intuitive sense, but it just doesn’t work when it’s actually tested.
This is not an invitation to drink only protein shakes, but “excessive” protein doesn’t hurt your kidneys.
A study last year from McMasters University actually showed the opposite, high protein levels actually helps your kidneys function better.
Their conclusions were that the higher protein diet tends to make people feel fuller, so they eat less, builds and preserves muscle and tends to lead to weight loss. All with no harm to the kidneys.
Is there a limit to how much protein your body can use in any given meal? Some people believe that too much protein in a meal is just a waste because the body can only absorb so much at any one time.
Many body builder types will tell you with all the earnest at their command that the human body can only absorb 30 grams of protein per meal.
To test this idea scientists broke a group of weightlifters into two groups. Following their workout, half got 20 grams of protein, and half 40.
The scientists then looked at muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to see if the body was actually using the protein.
And all of it was absorbed.
3 -YOU NEED MORE AS YOU GET OLDER
After you get to a certain age, you no longer may be dreaming of building bigger biceps, but you still need protein to maintain the lean muscle you have.
As a matter of fact, you actually need more than you did in your 20s.
The reason for this is protein metabolism gets less efficient after age 50. So, we need more to make up for less absorption.
It is vital to help recover from illness as well as just maintaining our muscle mass.
If we don’t then internal inflammation (think arthritis) becomes more and more of a problem.
You need at least one gram of protein per every kilogram of body weight every day. So, if you weigh 200 pounds you need 3 to 4 ounces of protein a day.
Now this is higher than the current government recommendation and really should be considered a minimum to maintain good health.
In summary, don’t be afraid of too much protein. People have a tendency to feel satisfied quickly when they eat protein so unlike carbs, people tend to self-regulate and quit eating before they eat too much protein.
But getting enough protein will help your health without hurting your kidneys.