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Protein: The Overhyped Macronutrient

Protein: The Overhyped Macronutrient

When it comes to macronutrients, none is more heavily marketed than Protein. Why? The easiest, most direct correlation is that it builds muscles. And clearly we are all protein deficient because most of us don’t look like Arnold in his heyday (just a touch of sarcasm here). But why is Protein the “golden child” of macronutrients? 



Each of the macronutrients has had their time to shine. We experienced the low/no-fat craze in the 90’s. Low carb diets (Atkins) became popular near the turn of the century, and continued when Keto diets hit mainstream in the 2010’s. But why did Protein get a free pass in all of this? Most likely, Protein was never the target of attack because you can find some protein in just about everything, and there is little to no harm in consuming excess amounts beyond what is recommended in your diet (of course, there are exceptions in extreme cases). 

How do we know there is little harm in consuming excess Protein? Mainly - we all do it! Scientific studies show that the average American consumes almost double the recommended intake of protein. These same studies show that in extreme cases (more than double the required intake), excess protein intake can strain kidney and liver function because the body’s organs struggle to process it all fast enough. In most cases, excess protein is converted to carbohydrates or fat stores; generally, the latter is only the case if you are at a calorie surplus.  



So how much is the right amount of protein for the day? There is no right answer here, as we are all different sizes and have different activity levels. The general baseline is about .8g/kg. For example, if you are 155 lbs, the recommended amount of protein is 56g. This is the amount required for your body to maintain its muscle composition and hormonal functions. Based on your activity level and muscular requirements, this number can be adjusted. Athletes are suggested to ingest between 1.3g-2.0g/kg of protein per day. 



In previous blog posts, we have talked about fat and carbohydrate intake as percentages of your daily caloric intake. Protein, on the other hand, is better calculated as an absolute number for those that are looking to maximize their athletic performance. The reason for this is, protein as a percentage (10-35%) of a 160lb athlete’s diet that requires 2500 calories/day is much higher than the upper limit (2.0g/kg at 72kg) of 145g. For those aiming to have a well-rounded diet without focus on performance, you can still view protein intake as a percentage with no harm to your overall diet. It is important to understand most diets focus on carbohydrate and fat percentages, and leave protein to pick up the scraps (so to speak). 



It is important to note that we feature the protein count on the front of our Superloaf boxes. We do this, not because we believe it is the most important feature of our Superloafs, but because it is required to be competitive on the retail shelf in front of the average consumer. 

There is a lot more to Protein than we have covered here! This blog entry is meant to serve as a high-level guideline for protein intake to ensure you are educated in making the right food choices, and not swayed by what marketers want you to think. Be educated, and make sure you are making good food choices. And ALWAYS Read The Ingredients!

Written by Michael Giudicelli - Co-Founder of Read The Ingredients, Stanford Certified Nutritionist and competitive endurance athlete. Michael is also a husband, and proud father of two young children. 
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