Protein consumption beyond recommended has little benefits, study says


Eating more protein daily than what is recommended has little benefit unless a patient is actively losing weight by cutting calories or strength training to build more lean muscle mass, according to a new study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

For the study, more than 1,500 nutrition articles were screened across journal databases to identify 18 studies with 22 intervention groups and 981 participants that addressed this topic. The studies were selected based on specific factors including inclusion of healthy adults, protein intake, weight loss, and physical activity. The sources of protein evaluated included lean and minimally processed meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

This study affirms that the recommended dietary allowance of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight is adequate for most people. For example, an adult who weighs 150 pounds should eat 54 grams of protein a day, which could be three ounces of lean meat, three cups of dairy, and one ounce of seeds or nuts within a day.

When people are in a neutral metabolic state, not losing weight or lifting weights, eating more protein does not influence their body composition any differently, including lean mass, which is consistent with the current recommended dietary allowances being adequate for generally healthy sedentary weight-stable people. This does not include adults with Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

These findings are in general, and more evaluation is needed to determine effects on age and gender. This research does not apply to elite athletes or people who lost weight with bariatric surgery, nor does it relate to protein supplements.

The researchers, led by Joshua Hudson, PhD, research associate at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, continue to study the influences of healthy eating patterns and diets with different amounts and sources of protein on changes in body composition and clinical health risk factors.

There is so much encouragement, advertising and marketing for everyone to eat higher protein diets,” said Hudson in a statement. “This research supports that, yes, under certain conditions, including strength training and weight loss, moderately more protein may be helpful, but that doesn't mean more is needed for everybody at all times.”