What Exercise Can I Do While Pregnant

Can Athletes Exercise Consume Too Much Protein?

Protein intake among athletes tends to be adequate if not higher than the recommended amounts for athletes. For example, strength athletes may consume 2.0 to 2.5 g/kg/day with some athletes reaching up to

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3.5 g/kg/day (Tarnopolsky 2004). Endurance athletes typically consume the recommended amount of 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg, though some female endurance athletes report lower intakes (Phillips 2004). While there does not seem to be an added benefit of eating more than the recommended 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day, there is the question if there is potential for harm.

A common perception is that a high protein intake would stress the kidneys and potentially result in kidney damage; however, in individuals with healthy renal functioning, this does not appear to be the case. There is also a question as to whether or not a high protein intake would have a detrimental impact on bone health such that it would decrease bone mineral density, though there is little support for this as well. In fact, recent research has shown that a protein intake at the higher end of the recommended range seems have an anabolic effect on bone through its stimulation of the hormone IGF-1 (Remer, Krupp, and Shi 2014).

What is of concern with an excess protein intake among athletes is its impact on overall dietary intake. If an athlete consumes excess dietary protein in the presence of adequate carbohydrate and fat, this could result in excess caloric consumption leading to excess weight gain. Some athletes believe whatever protein they do not use, they will excrete in their urine. On the contrary, excess protein (just like excess fat or excess carbohydrate) gets stored as fat when intake is above energy needs. Thus, to remain in energy balance and still consume higher amounts of protein, athletes would have to decrease their fat or carbohydrate or both intake. Inadequate fat intake may result in an inadequate intake of essential fatty acids along with other health concerns. Consuming insufficient carbohydrates not only has potential health effects, including micronutrient and fiber deficiencies, but can also be detrimental to performance, as previously discussed. Even high-intensity, short-duration exercise that is common to strength athletes relies upon carbohydrate as an essential fuel source. Consuming too much dietary protein at the expense of adequate carbohydrate intake may have serious effects on performance.

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