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  • Writer's pictureBruce Salinger

How Much Protein Is Too Much?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

High-protein diets are all the rage, and the interesting thing is that many scientists are on the train as well this time. High-quality protein from lean meats, nuts and other foods can do your body good, encouraging an active metabolism and boosting fat burning. Is it possible to get too much protein?

How Much Protein Do Men and Women Need a Day?

Some experts say 35% of total calories should be from protein sources, but others prefer limiting protein to about 10% of calories. The recommendations from medical professionals vary depending on your overall weight and health.

The recommendation is for women to get 2,000 calories a day and about 2,500 calories a day for men. Here's what the numbers would look like:

  • 10% of 2,000 calories: 200 calories (50 grams of protein)

  • 35% of 2,000 calories: 700 calories (175 grams)

  • 10% of 2,500 calories: 250 calories (62.5 grams)

  • 35% of 2,500 calories: 875 calories (about 220 grams)

How Much Protein Is Too Much?

Another way to see if you’re eating too much protein revolves around total body weight. Generally, you want to keep grams of protein at half or three-quarters of your body weight. In other words, a man weighing 180 pounds should only eat 90–120 grams of protein a day. A 120-pound woman would aim for 60–90 grams.

The Average Protein Content of Different Foods

Depending on the amount of protein you want, you may need to plan meals around it. It’s fairly easy to get 20 grams of protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but hitting 40-50 grams per meal is trickier.

  • Chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc.: Four ounces of meat (the size of an open palm) has 28 grams of protein.

  • Fish: Tuna, salmon and other fish contain seven grams of protein per ounce. A three-ounce can of tuna has 21 grams.

  • Eggs: One large egg contains six grams of protein.

  • Lentils and beans: One cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein. Beans have almost as much, with 16 grams per cup for kidney beans.

  • Peanut butter: You get seven grams of protein in just two tablespoons of peanut butter.

  • Milk: A small glass of milk has eight ounces of protein.

  • Greek yogurt: This high-protein version of yogurt packs about 18 grams of protein in a five-ounce cup.

  • Cheese: A one-ounce slice of cheese generally has seven grams of protein.

What Happens If You Get Too Much Protein?

Like many foods, getting too much of a good thing turns protein into a bad thing. Here’s what can happen:

  • Makes your kidneys work harder to eliminate excess

  • Causes weight gain instead of weight loss

  • Raises your risk of kidney stones

  • Elevates levels of uric acid

If you get protein from sources that are high in fat, overeating can contribute to high blood pressure and heart issues. People who have gout or kidney problems need to be conservative with protein intake.

How Can You Avoid Protein Problems?

Getting around 40 grams of protein for breakfast is pretty easy; just make a two-egg omelet with cheese and turkey bacon. To reach 175 grams a day, though, you would have to push yourself. In general, as long as you follow a balanced approach to protein in your diet, you don’t need to worry.


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