Protein – How much is too much?

Protein is essential for life – it’s a building block of every human cell and is involved in the vital
biochemical functions of the human body. It’s particularly important in growth, development, and tissue
repair. Protein is one of the three major “macronutrients” (along with carbohydrates and fat).

Fast facts on protein:
• Protein is important for growth and repair of body cells.
• Food sources of protein include meat, fish, dairy products, lentils, beans, dry fruits and tofu.
• A well-balanced diet with a variety of foods can provide enough protein for the body’s needs.
• Insufficient protein can lead to low growth and a weakened immune system.
• Excess protein may lead to weight gain and liver problems.

How much do we need?
People can aim to consume a certain amount of protein to obtain maximum protein use, muscle
generation, and recovery every time they eat.

According to ICMR, for adults the recommended intake of protein has been calculated at 1.0 gram per
kilogram of weight per day. The protein requirement has been calculated at average male weight of
60kg and female weight of 55kg. If a man weighs 60kg and a woman weighs 55kg then the protein
requirement will be 60 grams and 55 grams per day. For pregnant women an additional 23grams is
recommended which makes it 78 grams per day. Nursing mothers require additional protein of 19 grams
when the baby is between 0-6months old which is 74 grams per day and when the baby is between 6 to
12 months mother will require 13 additional grams of protein which comes to 68 grams per day.

For all ages the ICMR has based their protein values for Indians on per kg of standards weight. Currently
the recommended safe intake of protein according to Indian diet during 0-18 years in infants, children
and adolescence is calculated based on requirement for growth as well as maintenance. The values for
boys and girls are similar up to the age of 10 years. The safe level of protein intake for girls between the
ages of 11 and 18 is1.15 grams to 1.05 grams per kg of weight and the requirement reduces by 0.01gram
at every increase of one year of age. For boys at the same age it is 1.16 to 1.09 gram of protein
requirement per kg of weight

Endurance athletes may need from 1.0 to 1.6 g per kg of body weight, depending on the intensity of
Recommendations for strength training or power athletes range from 1.6 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight.
It is not clear exactly how it will affect a person if they consume more than this, since the effect on longterm health and disease risk depends on the type of protein.

Can too much protein be harmful?
Access of anything is harmful, Protein is no different in this regard.
For example, people that eat very high protein diets have a higher risk of kidney stones. Also, a high
protein diet that contains lots of red meat and higher amounts of saturated fat might lead to a higher
risk of heart disease and colon cancer, while another high protein diet rich in plant-based proteins may
not carry similar risks.

So, when it comes to protein, how much is too much?
It is not clear exactly how it will affect a person if they consume more than this, since the effect on longterm health and disease risk depends on the type of protein.

It’s hard to provide a specific answer since so much is still uncertain and the experts themselves don’t
agree. However, for the average person (who is not an elite athlete or heavily involved in body building)
it’s probably best to aim for no more than 2 gm/kg; that would be about 124 grams/day for a 62-kg
person. New information could change our thinking about the maximum safe amount, but until we
know more about the safety, risks and benefits of high protein diets, this seems like a reasonable

Protein is an essential macronutrient, but not all food sources of protein are created equal, and you may
not need as much as you think. Learn the basics about protein and shaping your diet with healthy
protein foods.