Protein is found mainly in meat, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese, but it can also be found in non animal sources such as nuts, tofu, beans, lentils and some vegetables.
The problem with protein is it is possible eat too little of it or far too much. Let's look at the problem with both scenarios.
TOO LITTLE PROTEIN
A lot of individuals when they diet will focus on cutting back portions and overall intake. The downside is protein often ends up being cut out: sometimes from entire meals. An example of protein skipping might be having a couple of slices of toast for breakfast with margarine or having a green salad for lunch with nothing else on top.
There are two major problems with this. First, by skipping protein you will become hungry sooner. Protein fills us up and keeps us full so without it, you often end up snacking more often than you plan.
The next problem is that without protein your body is going to struggle to lose weight. Without adequate protein the body won't be able to repair body tissue or build muscle properly. Maintaining healthy muscle in the body helps keep your metabolism higher.
There are consequences to over eating protein too though.
TOO MUCH PROTEIN
The body is like a storage unit and when you deliver a shipment that is too large, the body is going to have to put the over stock somewhere....and often that means storing it as fat. For the gym goers out there: have you ever noticed those men at the gym that are always lifting weights and have huge muscles but they always seem to have that little round belly?
I like to call that Protein Potbelly (not a medical term). These gentlemen will lift weights like crazy and drink big protein powder drinks after their workouts, but they do very little cardio exercise. As a result, their body has no use for the extra protein and just stores it as fat. You need to include cardio in your workout even if you are trying to build muscle. This might include walking, running, swimming, dancing or hiking. Really, it's any exercise that gets your heart rate up and your body moving.
OVERALL SUGGESTIONS ON PROTEIN
Very few people if anyone needs protein shakes. If you include reasonable sized portions of lean protein like fish, chicken and beans throughout the day, you will be getting more than enough (not to mention all the other beneficial nutrients that come in these foods). Most people only need about 0.85g of protein per kilo of body weight. This might vary depending on your health so be sure to speak to your doctor or dietitian.
It's also important to make sure to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day. This will help keep you alert and keep you full for longer.
It's all about balance and moderation!