Colorado Springs, CO

Protein: Too Little or Too Much

We’ve all heard the importance of eating a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fats, but what we don’t often hear about is why it’s important and how too little or too much of these essential foods can affect our bodies.

Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle, hormone production, staying satiated (full), bone health, and more; but does too little or too much protein have negative side effects?

Let’s find out!

Too Little Protein

A low-protein or protein-deficient diet is most common and can have some health concerns.

Weight Loss – We’re not talking the good kind, like body fat loss. Instead, overall weight loss is an effect of a low-protein, and most likely, calorie-deficient diet. If you’re not eating enough, your body will use protein as a fuel source first instead of building muscle.

Muscle Loss – Protein helps build muscle, but like stated above, if your protein is being used for fuel, you won’t gain or even maintain muscle and can even start losing muscle mass. As we get older (usually around age 35 for women and as early as age 25 for men), we naturally start losing muscle mass.

Liver Issues – Certain parts of our bodies need different resources to function properly. Protein is essential for healthy liver functions. Too little and you could develop liver disease.

Joint Pain – Strong, healthy muscles help keep joints in place. Protein is used to build and repair muscle, but with a low or deficient protein diet your protein is going to be used as a basic fuel function, rather than building muscle to keep joints strong and stable, which could lead to joint pain.

Low Blood Pressure – This may not seem bad, however low blood pressure limits the flow of essential nutrients and oxygen to vital organs and tissue. In addition, you could develop anemia, which is a condition where your body can’t produce enough red blood cells.

Edema – This is a condition in which swelling occurs, usually in the hands, feet and ankles, from body fluid trapped in the tissue. Protein helps stop fluids from accumulating in tissue. If you notice swelling in these areas, it could be a sign of low protein consumption.

Immune System & Recovery – Your immune system needs protein to stay healthy. If you’re getting sick more often or can’t beat those common colds, it could be from low protein consumption. It’s the same with injury recovery. Proteins are needed to repair tissue and muscle. It will take longer to recover from an injury if you’re lacking protein.

Cravings – Too many carbs and not enough protein can lead to unwanted food cravings. If you’re finding yourself reaching for more snacks, you’re probably not eating enough protein and too many carbs.

Too Much Protein

So what about too much protein? While it’s harder to eat too much protein, there are some health concerns and general knowledge about how much is appropriate and how much is “extra”.

Kidney Failure - A common concern of a high-protein diet, kidney failure, is only a risk if you are consuming a majority of animal-based protein sources like meat or have a kidney disease. To avoid possible kidney issues, aim to balance your protein sources between 50% plant-based and 50% lean, unprocessed meat-based.

Weight Gain – Protein helps build muscle, and like carbs, if we eat too much protein it will be stored as fat. Our bodies are not efficient at turning proteins into fat like with carbs, however it eventually does. Like eating too much of anything, weight gain can still happen. A six-year study of 7,000 participants found that those who ate a high-protein diet were 90% more likely to gain up to 10% of their body weight.3

Building Muscle – Muscle protein synthesis is the process of turning protein amino acids into muscle. Recent studies have shown that there is a cap to muscle growth in a high-protein diet, which is about 30 grams per meal. What does that mean? Consuming 30 grams versus 20 grams will help muscle growth, but consuming 50 grams per meal won’t have any more positive effect on muscle growth. Larger individuals may need a little more on average, but essentially, there is a cap to protein intake related to muscle growth.

A 2014 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that strength trainers who consumed 5.5 times the recommended daily protein (that’s just over 2 grams per pound of body weight) saw no positive or negative effect on body composition.1

List of Good Protein Sources and Image of SalmonWhen planning your meals and protein sources, we recommend a healthy balance of both plant and animal-based proteins. When selecting animal-based proteins, keep it to lean, unprocessed meats like skinless chicken and turkey. Red meat is fine, but keep it lean and always watch the portions. For plant-based proteins, beans, quinoa, nuts, and soy are great sources to include.

At Farrell’s, we teach our members about simple, proper, balanced nutrition so their bodies are working effectively and efficiently letting them perform at their best in and out of the gym.

We assign protein, carb and fat intake over the course of six daily meals, ensuring they are getting the correct amounts of each macronutrient source.

To learn more about the Farrell's group fitness program and nutrition coaching, contact your local Farrell’s today!






Location Info


4427 Centennial Blvd
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Phone: (719) 434-2002
Head Coach: Mark Vohsman
Franchise Owner: Good Stuff Fitness, LLC


Farrell's Garden of the God location exterior image