Can too much protein make you gain weight?

Protein is necessary for weight loss, but too much can make you fat. Consuming more than 35% of calories from protein, especially when replacing carbs, can cause belly fat.

We gain weight when we consume too many calories

We gain weight when we consume more calories than we burn. Protein has calories. 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate has 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat has 9 calories! Therefore, consuming excess calories, either from protein, carbs, or fat, can cause belly fat.

What dose of protein can make you fat?

Nowadays, most people worry about their protein intake. But, protein deficiency is rare. Healthy adults with minimal physical activity need only 0.8 grams protein per kilogram of body weight a day. For instance, someone who weights 160 lbs (72.5 kg) needs only 58 grams of protein a day![1]

Only athletes require much higher dosages of protein. But, even elite athletes are unlikely to benefit from higher doses than 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Actually, most people who follow a healthy diet consume more protein than they need. In fact, many people consume more than 100 grams of protein per day.[2]

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we need about 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat of the total calorie intake.[3]

Therefore, consuming more than 35% protein of the total calorie intake may make you fat. We also require fat and carbs for an increased basal metabolism and for good health!

Actually, according to a study, chronic high doses of protein may make you fat long-term! People who increased protein intake, replacing carbs, significantly gained weight. On the contrary, when protein replaced fat didn’t cause weight gaining![4]

Protein is good for weight loss

Certainly, normal doses of protein are beneficial for weight loss, as protein:

  • is super filling! We consume fewer calories on a high-protein diet. But, we shouldn’t consume more than 35% of calories from protein, though. Fiber is also key for satiety, while fat in involved in energy metabolism.[5]
  • has the highest thermic effect! About 30% of calories of protein are burned during digestion![6]
  • protects muscle mass, while dieting. Increased muscle mass has been associated with a better basal metabolism and a leaner body!

Can protein supplements cause belly fat?

Athletes and active people have higher protein needs. The easiest way to boost your daily protein intake is with protein supplements. But, 1 scoop of most protein supplements contains about 120 calories. So, if you consume more calories than you burn, even protein from supplements can make you fat![7]

Most noteworthy, there are protein supplements which are specifically designed for weight gain. These protein supplements have too many calories. They may contain up to 1,300 calories per serving! These protein supplements can certainly make you fat. Most people should avoid them.[8]

Last, but not least, many foods high in protein, like cheese, can make you fat.

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