Wow, look how touchy everyone gets with this subject.
Foolishness comes in believing that protein is bad AND in believing that it can never be bad.
Some clarifying points:
-As of now, protein has not been proven to cause liver and kidney damage. HOWEVER, it has not been disproven yet either. No one knows exactly how much protein or how long it will take a high protein diet to induce damage. So while the idea that protein harms the liver and kidneys isn’t fact, it’s not necessarily fiction, either.
-Protein has been strongly implicated in calcium loss from bones. This idea is not a myth, but many questions are still unanswered. Like with kidney and liver damage, the exact amounts are unclear. Also, because protein has been shown to enhance calcium absorption as well as excretion, scientists aren’t sure if the loss is related more to an off-balance ratio of protein to calcium in the diet.
-High protein diets have been implicated in higher rates of heart disease and cancer. Yet, let’s look below the surface. High protein diets usually mean high intakes of meat and cheese (Cheese consumption has risen drastically over the years) at the expense of fruits and vegetables. Meat and cheese are high in saturated fat, and if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, you don’t consume the antioxidants and vitamins essential for warding off cancer. Furthermore, improperly prepared meat (i.e. burnt) does contain carcinogens. So, the connection between protein and disease is not direct; it’s not the protein that makes people sick, but rather the substances, or lack thereof, that accompany a high protein diet.
-It’s true that humans do not need a lot of protein. We use it very efficiently. NEED and OPTIMIZATION are different however. Optimization can refer to athletic performance, weight loss via satiety, etc…In the latter instances, for some people the increases are not that much - 10% to 20%. The desire for optimization has blown the “need” for more protein out of proportion. What result are Atkins dieters and athletes chugging protein powders all day. A little more than average is usually beneficial, but huge amounts are generally unnecessary, and as was stated before, POTENTIALLY harmful.
Protein is not a wonder-food. It is a chemical substance just like anything else that you ingest. It has its benefits and its side effects. We just have yet to detail those side-effects and establish appropriate limits.
Don’t stop eating protein, but don’t make love to it, either.