Protein is also an uneconomical fuel. If you reduce carbohydrate intake and replace those missing calories with protein, your body will be forced to try and use protein for fuel. While it CAN do this, it’s not a particularly “clean” process and a lot of energy gets used converting protein into useable energy, unlike fat and carbs which are very easily converted to energy.
So, this macronutrient is essential for post-exercise recovery and is very useful for weight control but can you eat too much? Yes; you can but it takes some doing! Many “experts” believe that eating too much of it places an excessive stress on your kidneys but there is little research to support this. Providing your drink plenty of water and have no history of kidney disease, there is no reason to think that your kidneys will implode just because you eat a few eggs every day and enjoy fish, chicken and other protein-rich foods.
However, even though it’s very hard to convert excess protein to fat, if you really eat way WAY too much, any excess could make you gain fat. To be honest though, if you are gaining fat, it’s much more likely that the cause is too much refined carbohydrate or fat rather than too much protein but as protein contains calories, an excess could, theoretically at least , be converted to fat.
Of all the food groups, carbohydrate is the cheapest and most abundant and this probably why most mainstream nutritional approaches such as the traditional food pyramid are built around carbs. This often means that protein is viewed as less important and something that is not really necessary. In actuality, the opposite is true. Your body can run very well without much or even any carbohydrate but insufficient protein can quickly lead to poor recovery from exercise, stalled progress and even bone and joint problems. On the downside, protein is more expensive than carbohydrate and tends to be less readily available – just try and find a decent protein-based snack at the late-night garage!
Cost and availability mean that protein is often overlooked in favor of carbohydrate but smart trainees know better. Try to eat about 1-1.3 grams of protein per lb to ensure you keep your body supplied with those all but essential amino acids – a condition called positive nitrogen balance. Chances are, if you were protein deprived before, you’ll notice you get leaner, feel stronger and recover better from your workouts. When it comes to exercise nutrition, the power of protein is unbeatable!