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Dangerous Signs You’re Eating Too Much Protein & How To Fix It

Everything Pop Eye forgot to tell you…

With the recent rise of low-carb regimes, over the last few years, the prevailing wisdom has become: the more protein the better. And as crucial as this amino acid building block is, if you eat too much of it you could end up with bad breath, weight gain, constipation, diarrhea, dehydration, calcium loss, kidney damage and even heart disease.

Suffice to say, eating the right amount of protein is essential for both your short and long-term health. But as there is already a wealth of literature out there on how to boost your protein intake, and how to make sure you’re eating enough of it, today we’re focussing on the less well-known aspect: how do you tell if you’re eating too much of the stuff?

Aside from costing you an extra $20 a week (sirloin steak don’t come cheap), various studies have shown eating excess protein to be a bad idea. But how do you tell if this is you? And if you are inhaling one too many protein shakes a week, what’s the best thing to replace them with? Read on and find out.

 

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Bad Breath

Eating high quantities of protein generally comes with eating fewer carbohydrates, potentially even putting your body in a state of ketosis. While this is great for weight loss, if you’re not careful (or if you’re unlucky, even if you are), this can also produce halitosis.

According to Healthline, “In a 2003 protein study, 40 percent of participants experienced this “unpleasant fruity smell,” which—unfortunately—can’t be solved with brushing and flossing. If this happens to you, either dial back your protein intake, increase your water intake, brush your teeth more often, or chew gum to counter it.

Joint Pain

Researchers have found that high-protein diets rich in red meats can increase the level of uric acid in your blood, which in turn forms painful crystals inside your joints and increases the risk of gout (a type of arthritis).

Dehydration

To break down protein, the body needs water. This means that excess protein consumption makes you thirsty. The kidneys, which break down protein, will pull water from elsewhere in the body to keep up with the extra protein.

One study has linked excessive protein consumption (from red meat) to kidney disease, while others, conducted on athletes, have shown as protein intake increases, hydration level decrease.

The good news is that if you are experiencing this symptom, it is relatively easy to counter: increase your water intake, or eat less protein (we’ll explain what best to replace it with at the end of the article).

Headaches

A secondary symptom of dehydration: if you experience these two at the same time then it really could be time to take stock of your post-workout protein junket and start knocking back some good old Mount Franklin.

Constipation

Another side effect of eating more protein and less carbs tends to be a reduction in the quantity of fibre you consume. As SimpleMost and Healthline explain, “Falling short on fibre leads to intestinal problems like constipation and bloating… (and) an imbalance of gut flora, which in turn creates more bowel irregularities.”

The fix? Boost your water and fibre intake. And for the organised poopers among us, feel free to track your bowel movements.

Feeling Lethargic

Otherwise known at the ‘Keto flu’, when you eat a diet high in protein, at least when you make the initial change you will likely experience some feelings of lethargy. While it’s true that proteins help keep you full for longer than carbs, eating too much of them can tip the scales too far in the other direction.

Essentially, carbs are super easy to digest, causing an insulin spike and then a crash. Proteins are more difficult to digest, which is usually a good thing. But if you overdo it, the gluconeogenesis process, which the body undertakes to break down protein, can cause fluctuations in your cortisol levels, making you feel fatigued.

Side note: it is worth noting that if you are experiencing one (or any number) of these symptoms, you are not necessarily eating too much protein—a number of other illnesses or lifestyle factors may be at fault. However, if you think protein might be the problem, it is a good idea to consult your GP and test reducing the amount of Bacon you knock back each week…

What To Replace Protein With, If You Find You Are Consuming Too Much

If you decrease your protein intake, you’re going to need to replace it with something. The best way to do this is with (for personalized quantities and ratios; consult a dietician) healthy dietary fats.

Healthy fats bring stabilization to your blood sugar, and can even help you overcome the fatigue associated with a low-carb diet.

 

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And if you insist on replacing your excess protein with carbs, here’s the best way to do it…

 

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