According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average American adults consume more than double their recommended protein intake.
Thanks to modern marketing, protein has become the “nutrient du jour,” in the last few years. Protein is now viewed as a cure-all nutrient that can help people stay fuller for longer and thus lose weight.
Protein has also been proven to be essential for developing muscle mass, a healthy immune system, and stabilizing hormones among other necessary bodily functions.
Recent studies have shown, however, that the meat and dairy-heavy American diet is already rich in protein, and thus may not need the protein-fortified granola bars and smoothies that now line the grocery store shelves.
What’s more, though protein may be the key to successful weight loss in some people, health professionals remind consumers that “protein needs are not one-size-fits-all.” Depending on your weight and activity level, excessive protein intake can actually lead to weight gain. Extra calories are stored as fat regardless of whether they originate in carbohydrate-heavy or protein-rich foods.
Having a little extra protein in your diet isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Finding out the correct protein needs for your specific lifestyle can be the key to a truly balanced diet.