Can Too Much Protein Make You Fat?

I am frequently asked if consuming too much protein will make you fat.

My simple answer to that is NO!

However it is important to know what level of consumption you are talking about.

As always I like to provide my answers based on FACT and not just opinion.

Opinion based answers can be like a game of Chinese whispers. One persons opinion passed through 5 people will end up concluding that we must live off a 500 calorie restricted diet, eat no fat, limit protein ingestion, and drink the magic coffee bean for maximum fat loss. (ok maybe not that severe, but Im sure you get what I mean)

I put on my research hat and found a recent study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014.

Titled:

Antonio et al.: The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014 11:19.

(the below paragraph is taken directly from the study)

Background: The consumption of dietary protein is important for resistance-trained individuals. It has been posited that intakes of 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg/day are needed for physically active individuals. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of a very high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained men and women.

Methods: Thirty healthy resistance-trained individuals participated in this study (mean ± SD; age: 24.1 ± 5.6 yr; height: 171.4 ± 8.8 cm; weight: 73.3 ± 11.5 kg). Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: Control (CON) or high protein (HP). The CON group was instructed to maintain the same training and dietary habits over
the course of the 8 week study. The HP group was instructed to consume 4.4 grams of protein per kg body weight daily. They were also instructed to maintain the same training and dietary habits (e.g. maintain the same fat and carbohydrate intake). Body composition (Bod Pod®), training volume (i.e. volume load), and food intake were determined at baseline and over the 8 week treatment period.

Results: The HP group consumed significantly more protein and calories pre vs post (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the HP group consumed significantly more protein and calories than the CON (p < 0.05). The HP group consumed on average 307 ± 69 grams of protein compared to 138 ± 42 in the CON. When expressed per unit body weight, the HP group consumed 4.4 ± 0.8 g/kg/d of protein versus 1.8 ± 0.4 g/kg/d in the CON. There were no changes in training volume for either group. Moreover, there were no significant changes over time or between groups for body weight, fat mass, fat free mass, or percent body fat.

Conclusions: Consuming 5.5 times the recommended daily allowance of protein has no effect on body composition in resistance-trained individuals who otherwise maintain the same training regimen. This is the first interventional study to demonstrate that consuming a hypercaloric high protein diet does not result in an increase in body fat.

Interesting findings right?

Here is my bullet point summary based on findings in this study, in case your skim read 🙂

  • consuming 5.5 times the recommended daily allowance of protein has not effect on body composition, in fact it can increase lean body mass.
  • This is the highest recorded intake of dietary protein in the scientific literature that we are aware of (1)
  • To support the extra consumption, additional protein calories come primarily from whey protein powder. (dispels the to many protein shakes myth)
  • Excess carbohydrate however may be converted to fat. (2)
  • Calories are not created equal.

So there we have it.

If you would like to have an extra protein shake or protein bar as a snack throughout the day. Go ahead.

Final Thought: There is certainly no need for our bodies to consume this much protein, and as always, please eat responsibly 🙂

 

If you liked this, you may also like:

Calories are stupid, and need to be understood.

What does 200 calories look like? (fun video)

Looking for an amazing tasting, highest quality protein?

 

(1) Gordon MM, Bopp MJ, Easter L, Miller GD, Lyles MF, Houston DK, Nicklas BJ, Kritchevsky SB: Effects of dietary protein on the composition of weight loss in post-menopausal women. J Nutr Health Aging 2008, 12:505–509.

(2) Lammert O, Grunnet N, Faber P, Bjornsbo KS, Dich J, Larsen LO, Neese RA, Hellerstein MK, Quistorff B: Effects of isoenergetic overfeeding of either carbohydrate or fat in young men. Br J Nutr 2000, 84:233–245.

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