Protein consumption is booming. It is necessary for our body and it is thanks to it that muscles, bones, skin and other tissues are built and maintained . They also have an essential role in the functioning of certain hormones and enzymes. In addition, they keep us satiated for longer, preventing us from eating more and gaining weight. This last point is one of the arguments that have led to its consumption in powder form, shakes, dairy products or enriched bars soaring in recent years. But is it safe to go all out on protein?
Some doctors are concerned about not knowing what long-term consequences a high protein intake can have . “No one can tell the long-term effects, and that’s what worries me as a doctor. No one can say what the results are going to be on people’s bodies 10 to 15 years later,” said Dr. John E. Swartzberg, from the University of California, Berkeley to The New York Times .
Other experts claim that the body does not absorb high protein intakes as many people believe . “People think that if you fill up on protein, it will be a magic bullet, either to lose weight or to get in better shape and build muscle, but that is not proven,” said Jim White of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to The New York Times . “You can eat 300 grams of protein a day, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to gain more muscle than someone who eats 120 grams a day ,” White said. Meanwhile, “you are depriving yourself of other macronutrients that the body needs, such as whole grains, fats, and fruits and vegetables.”
On the other hand, there appear to be potential dangers of consuming excessive doses of protein as we age. “One of the benefits and concerns of high protein intake, especially animal protein, is that it tends to make cells multiply faster ,” Dr. Walter Willett of the School of Health told The New York Times. Public TH Chan of Harvard. “That is good in early life, when you are a growing child. But in adulthood, this is one of the fundamental processes that increase the risk of cancer.”
The recommendations for protein consumption in order not to lose muscle mass are that these represent 15% of the total daily consumption of macronutrients, that is, that they are approximately 0.8-1 g of protein per kilo of weight per day. Many experts prioritize the protein intake that comes from real food , not from supplements.
Among the groups that can fall short on protein intake are adolescent girls, who may not eat properly, and older people , who are at risk of losing muscle mass and whose appetite tends to decrease with age. In fact, many of the first protein supplements to appear in the United States were developed with the elderly and undernourished in mind. Professional athletes , who train for many hours a day, also need to increase their protein intake considerably, as do pregnant or lactating women . In the general population, it is not necessary to increase the amount of ingested protein.