Think You Don't Get Enough Protein? That May Just Be Hype

Do you ever blend up a protein smoothie for breakfast or grab a protein bar following a workout? If so, you’re likely among the millions of people in search of more protein-rich diets. The problem, points out the Mayo Clinic, is that contrary to all the hype that everyone needs more protein, most Americans get twice as much as they actually need. Weight-loss surgeon Garth Davis contends that most physicians in the U.S. have never actually examined a patient with protein deficiency because simply by eating an adequate number of calories daily we’re most likely getting enough protein. In fact, Americans consume nearly two times the recommended daily intake of protein: 1.9 ounces (56 grams) for men and 1.6 ounces (46 grams) for women. Walter Willett, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, describes high protein intake as "one of the fundamental processes that increase the risk of cancer." Beyond these concerns, processed supplements and protein bars are often packed with calories and may contain more sugar than a candy bar. It’s no accident that the protein supplement market in the U.S. is a $9 billion industry. In the end, most people living in high-income nations are consuming enough protein. When we replace meals with a protein bar or shake, we also risk missing out on the rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins and many other benefits of real food.