Ok so this is a bit of a controversial topic and depending on what you read you will get a variety of different opinions and answers. Well it’s the case with every topic right? Eat this, don’t eat that. Take this, don’t take that.
I recently got some blood test results back which alarmed that my “urea” levels were high. After a little Google self diagnosis (guilty as charged) I went from extremely worried and sweating to relaxed and feeling in control again.
What is Urea? A blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test checks kidney function by measuring how much urea nitrogen is in your blood. Urea nitrogen is a waste product from the breakdown of protein in the body. Normally, this waste is filtered by the kidneys and leaves the body through urine.
In a female in her 20’s, 2.5 to 7.1 mmol/L is considered normal and mine came back 9.8mmol/L. So in simple ‘English’ words I have either had a heart attack recently or my protein intake is too high which is causing a negative affect on my kidneys. Considering my lifestyle and diet (eggs, yoghurt, cheese, nuts, chickpeas, meat and protein powder) I am going to go with option 2. Which brings me to the questions; how much protein do I need? and what affect will too much protein have on my body?
The four main macronutrients or food types as you wish, are fat, carbohydrates, alcohol and protein. Protein is essential for muscles repair and growth and overall healthy, strong bodies.
Nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky suggests that consuming a high-protein diet might exacerbate existing, or cause new, liver and kidney problems due to the strain of processing protein and its metabolic waste products. In addition, prioritising protein might interfere with your ability to consume adequate levels of fiber and other nutrients that carbohydrates provide.
So here is the basic nitty gritty information about protein, how much you should be consuming and more importantly what that amount looks like. It is all fair to say you need 58gms of protein a day but some people would have NO idea what that would include. Hint: that doesn’t mean 58gms of chicken.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED?
It doesn’t matter which health or fitness magazine and blog you read they will all tell you one thing – if you want to lose weight you need a high protein diet. However many nutritionists will state the opposite and say that a high protein diet can have negative effects on your kidneys and overall health. And so the debate continues.
If you are a meathead bodybuilder this might be perfect for you – but for the rest of us, it is simply too much. If weight loss is the main goal than upping your protein is a good start and many research studies can back this up. Your body burns calories during the process of digestion, and even more when digesting protein. This is one of the reasons why, all by itself, eating protein can aid in weight loss. So for those embarking on their healthy lifestyle or just want to add more protein to their diet, here are some simple ways you can include protein in each meal.
BREAKFAST: eggs, bacon, Greek yogurt, or smoothies with protein powder.
LUNCH OR DINNER: legumes, cheese, salmon, chicken breasts, tuna, tofu or red meat.
SNACKS: Nuts and seeds, peanut butter, hummus, cheese, greek yoghurt and protein bars/balls/shakes. For packaged protein snacks I recommend the Slim Secrets range (available from Coles/Woolworths) and always have some on hand in my handbag or work draw.
WHAT AFFECT WILL TOO MUCH PROTEIN HAVE ON MY BODY?
Just like everything – anything in excess is not good. Too much protein is scientifically proven to have a negative affect on your kidney function and can be detrimental to your health. My test results can be the proof of this.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DID I EAT TODAY? Here is a typical daily meal plan / diary of what I eat on the regular. I try to change things up but I am quite boring and stuck in routine to be completely honest. If I don’t have yoghurt in my smoothie I will have it for morning or afternoon tea and same goes with a banana. I normally eat 2 eggs and a banana each day and my go to lunch is pretty much tin tuna if not leftovers. Morning tea is some sort of fruit focused snack where as afternoon tea is more protein and fat focused. I have my daily morning coffee with soy milk and I have some sort of simple meat and veggie combo for dinner generally with sweet potato chippies or quinoa.
Breakfast; Green banana smoothie >> recipe HERE or a smoothie bowl >> Recipe HERE with 2Tbs yoghurt and a scoop of protein powder = 32 grams OR 2 pieces of rye toast with peanut butter, banana and cinnamon = 11 grams
Morning tea; coffee w soy milk and peanut butter w 1 apple or celery sliced = 4 grams OR Greek yoghurt with oats, nuts and berries = 9 grams
Lunch; Tuna, greens, brown rice or quinoa and 10-12 almonds = 31 grams
Afternoon tea; hummus with celery/carrot sticks and 1 boiled egg whole = 9 grams
Dinner; Eye fillet steak w 1 fried egg, sweet potato chips and veggies = 36 grams
Dessert; Spirulina mint ball >> recipe HERE and peppermint tea = 3 grams
Total of protein consumed today on average = 99 grams!
Now depending on your goals or lifestyle this might be TOO much protein or for some not enough. Make sure you are eating a good combination of carbs and fat too. I try to make sure I have a carb, fat and protein element at every meal/snack along with water and cups of tea throughout the day. As stated above focusing on eating protein may mean you are missing out on the benefits of other food groups and nutrients.
According to authority nutrition 46-53 grams per day for the average sedentary (in-active) woman. So for an active fit woman I would aim for around 70-80gms. My test results have come back stating that I am a little over the scale with my protein so I am trying to reduce this to around 100gms a day max. Therefore making smart swaps such as that second egg for a bunch of grapes or some rice cakes with honey instead of hummus might do the trick. Nothing in excess is healthy.
Seek help/advice from a nutritionist or dietitian for further information on your diet. If you are in Melbourne why not contact Jayne and Katie from Sweat and Oranges. Website HERE>