Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Too Much Protein?

My son has been working out at the gym to build muscle. He is on a strict protein diet and insists on eating two to three eggs per day as his protein intake along with oatmeal. I think this can be dangerous. What is the recommended daily amount?

Answer (Published 9/6/2011)

I wouldn't worry about his eating two to three eggs per day, but I would be concerned about his total protein intake. Egg whites are a great source of protein, and the yolks contain an astonishing array of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E and K, plus iron.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

As little as two ounces of a protein-rich food a day may be enough to prevent protein deficiency in most adults; four ounces will certainly do it. That means a four-ounce serving of meat or fish or chicken or cheese or tofu.

If you eat more protein than your body needs for growth, repair and maintenance of tissue, it is burned as a fuel, just as carbohydrates and fats are. However, protein is not nearly as efficient a fuel as carbs or fats - the body has to work harder to dismantle its molecules and release their energy. The ratio of energy gained to energy expended is not as favorable. High-protein diets impose a considerable workload on the digestive system and may contribute to feelings of fatigue and lack of energy. Another problem with protein as a fuel is that it does not burn clean. Because of its nitrogen content, protein leaves "ashes" when it burns; these toxic nitrogen wastes must be eliminated from the system, taxing the liver and kidneys.

I recommend strength training as part of an overall fitness program, but I am not in favor of  high muscle-mass bodybuilding because of the popular emphasis on consumption of high-protein foods and amino acid supplements and, in some cases, the use of dangerous drugs (anabolic steroids). To my mind these practices are not part of preventive health maintenance. The bodybuilders I have known are not as a group any healthier than other people, and some of them are less healthy because of the ways they think about and treat their bodies.

Omega-3 fatty acids should be an important part of any diet, and as far as the recommended daily amount of protein my anti-inflammatory diet calls for two to six four-ounce servings of wild Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines or Alaskan black cod a week, along with one to two servings per week of omega-3 enriched eggs, natural cheese (one ounce equals one serving), skinless poultry or meat (three ounces per serving), or whole soy foods.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here