Pass the Protein: What’s Too Much for Your Diet?

When it comes to health and fitness, protein is all the rage. Touted for its weight loss and muscle-building benefits, this macronutrient has become a big business.

Protein-packed products have moved beyond shakes and supplements. They now include infused waters, ice cream, smoothies and baking mixes.

But how much protein do you really need? And can too much protein be a bad thing?

Jordan Ryan, MD, a family medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians–Primary Care, and Kristen Steiner, registered dietitian with The Christ Hospital Health Network, say it's all about balance.

What is protein?

Protein is one of three macronutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. The other two are carbohydrates and fats.

Protein builds and repairs tissues (and muscles), produces essential enzymes and hormones, and supports our immune systems. Protein also helps you feel full.

Made from amino acids—building blocks that our body needs to function—protein is a critical part of our diet. That's because dietary protein gives us many essential amino acids that our bodies don't produce on their own.

How much protein do you need?

The amount of protein you need varies based on age, sex, physical activity level and overall health.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the average adult man needs about 56 grams of protein daily, and an adult woman needs about 46 grams daily.

To put this into perspective, one large egg equals about 6 grams of protein.

However, people who are overweight or those who are more active—especially people who participate in strength training or endurance sports like running or swimming—may need more protein.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a free online calculator to help you find your recommended daily protein intake.

Good protein sources

Steiner says you can meet your protein goals with a variety of foods, even if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Good animal-based protein sources include:

  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat (beef, chicken, pork)

Good plant-based protein sources include:

  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu,
  • Whole grains (quinoa and farro)

There are also many protein-boosted products, including pasta, pancakes and bread or muffin mixes.

Do you really need protein powders?

Protein powders have become popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They can be convenient for those who struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone. They are also good for people who require a higher protein intake.

But Dr. Ryan says buyer beware. Protein powders may be an added and unnecessary expense if you eat a balanced diet.

“You don't need protein powder if you buy good quality, minimally processed food," Dr. Ryan says. “You can get protein from so many other sources. I recommend a food-first approach."

If you do choose to supplement with a protein powder, Dr. Ryan says to look for one that is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified for Sport®. These products meet certain quality and safety standards.

Can you get too much protein?

Protein is essential for good health. But it's possible to overdo it.

“Any macronutrient consumed in excess will be stored as fat in your body," Dr. Ryan says. 

But excess fat is just one potential problem when it comes to excess dietary protein. Too much protein can strain your kidneys—which is especially problematic for people with pre-existing kidney conditions.

And, says Steiner, an overemphasis on protein at the expense of other important foods or macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats can lead to an imbalanced diet.

“Moderation and balance are key," Steiner says. 


Find out more about our primary care physicians, schedule an appointment online or call 513-585-3000 to speak to one of our referral specialists.

Jordan Ryan, MD

Jordan Ryan, MD, is a board-certified physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Primary Care who specializes in family medicine. Dr. Ryan brings extensive experience as a physician in a variety of settings from his time practicing medicine as an officer in the United States Air Force. 



Pass the Protein: What’s Too Much for Your Diet? Everywhere you look, people are loading up their diets with protein. Is it too much of a good thing? Learn how your body uses protein and some of the best quality sources for staying fit.

When it comes to health and fitness, protein is all the rage. Touted for its weight loss and muscle-building benefits, this macronutrient has become a big business.

Protein-packed products have moved beyond shakes and supplements. They now include infused waters, ice cream, smoothies and baking mixes.

But how much protein do you really need? And can too much protein be a bad thing?

Jordan Ryan, MD, a family medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians–Primary Care, and Kristen Steiner, registered dietitian with The Christ Hospital Health Network, say it's all about balance.

What is protein?

Protein is one of three macronutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. The other two are carbohydrates and fats.

Protein builds and repairs tissues (and muscles), produces essential enzymes and hormones, and supports our immune systems. Protein also helps you feel full.

Made from amino acids—building blocks that our body needs to function—protein is a critical part of our diet. That's because dietary protein gives us many essential amino acids that our bodies don't produce on their own.

How much protein do you need?

The amount of protein you need varies based on age, sex, physical activity level and overall health.

According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the average adult man needs about 56 grams of protein daily, and an adult woman needs about 46 grams daily.

To put this into perspective, one large egg equals about 6 grams of protein.

However, people who are overweight or those who are more active—especially people who participate in strength training or endurance sports like running or swimming—may need more protein.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a free online calculator to help you find your recommended daily protein intake.

Good protein sources

Steiner says you can meet your protein goals with a variety of foods, even if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Good animal-based protein sources include:

  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat (beef, chicken, pork)

Good plant-based protein sources include:

  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu,
  • Whole grains (quinoa and farro)

There are also many protein-boosted products, including pasta, pancakes and bread or muffin mixes.

Do you really need protein powders?

Protein powders have become popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They can be convenient for those who struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone. They are also good for people who require a higher protein intake.

But Dr. Ryan says buyer beware. Protein powders may be an added and unnecessary expense if you eat a balanced diet.

“You don't need protein powder if you buy good quality, minimally processed food," Dr. Ryan says. “You can get protein from so many other sources. I recommend a food-first approach."

If you do choose to supplement with a protein powder, Dr. Ryan says to look for one that is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified for Sport®. These products meet certain quality and safety standards.

Can you get too much protein?

Protein is essential for good health. But it's possible to overdo it.

“Any macronutrient consumed in excess will be stored as fat in your body," Dr. Ryan says. 

But excess fat is just one potential problem when it comes to excess dietary protein. Too much protein can strain your kidneys—which is especially problematic for people with pre-existing kidney conditions.

And, says Steiner, an overemphasis on protein at the expense of other important foods or macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats can lead to an imbalanced diet.

“Moderation and balance are key," Steiner says. 


Find out more about our primary care physicians, schedule an appointment online or call 513-585-3000 to speak to one of our referral specialists.

/PublishingImages/Healthspirations%20Photos/Article/protein-765x425.jpg https://www.thechristhospital.com/PublishingImages/Healthspirations%20Photos/Article/protein-765x425.jpg /Pages/Healthspirations/Pass-the-Protein.aspx
The Christ Hosptial