To a lot of dieters, the magic weight-loss word is “protein.” They flock to high-protein diets, and protein-enriched foods – like protein shakes - are now a multi-billion dollar business. But do we actually need more protein? Let’s look at the facts:
First: Most people get too much protein. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the average person consumes about 40 percent more protein than their bodies can use. And that’s true even for vegetarians, who get their protein from dairy, beans, peas and lentils. Which means, there’s no benefit to getting extra protein. In fact, digesting extra protein requires so much energy, it can leave you feeling fatigued. And, in extreme cases, it can even cause kidney damage!
Another reason extra protein isn’t a great idea: Protein-enriched foods are high in calories. Katherine Tallmadge, the author of Diet Simple, says that some energy bars and protein shakes are actually worse for your waistline than candy bars.
Your best bet? Get your protein from real foods, like low-fat dairy, lean meat, and eggs. And aim to get one-third of your 60-gram daily requirement at each meal. Which means, instead of wolfing down a big T-bone steak, you’re better off having 2 eggs for breakfast, a cup of milk at lunch, and 4 ounces of beans at dinner.