What Happens to Your Body When You Double Your Protein Intake

Protein is necessary to build and maintain muscle, increase metabolism, and lose weight. Do you know what happens to your body when you double your protein intake? Let’s find out the pros and cons.

Increasing protein intake has become a common recommendation among fitness enthusiasts and athletes seeking to enhance muscle growth, improve recovery, and achieve optimal health. While some individuals already consume substantial amounts of protein, doubling the intake can offer significant benefits even for those adhering to the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

This article is not for those people who are already consuming, for example, 200 grams of protein and will double it to 400 grams. No, this is intended for those who are eating within the limit of normalcy for protein intake, close to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight.

The information for this page is largely based on a video shared by Thomas DeLauer, a celebrity trainer and health author. His YouTube Channel has more than 3.5 million subscribers and he has been on the cover of numerous international magazines.

This article delves into the effects of doubling your protein intake, exploring both the positive outcomes and potential drawbacks. By examining various scientific studies and expert insights, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how this dietary adjustment can impact your health and fitness journey.

Protein is a crucial macronutrient that plays an essential role in various bodily functions, including muscle repair, hormone production, and immune support. The RDA for protein is approximately 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, a guideline that may suffice for sedentary individuals but could be inadequate for those engaged in regular physical activity or strength training. This article is not just for those who are already consuming high amounts of protein but for anyone considering increasing their intake to enhance their physical performance and overall well-being. Let’s explore what happens when you double your protein intake and how it can transform your fitness routine.

Read Also: 10 High-Protein Foods You Should Eat to Lose Belly Fat Fast

What Happens to Your Body When You Double Your Protein Intake

Benefits of Doubling Protein Intake

  1. Increased Muscle Mass: Doubling your protein intake can lead to significant increases in muscle mass, even if your workout routine remains unchanged. This may seem obvious—more protein equals more muscle—but the extent of this benefit is worth noting. A comprehensive study published in Nutrition Reviews reviewed 105 papers involving over 5,400 participants in randomized controlled trials. The findings revealed a clear dose-dependent relationship between protein consumption and muscle protein synthesis (MPS), and ultimately, muscle mass. While doubling your protein intake may not exactly double your muscle mass, it strongly suggests a marked improvement in muscle growth and development.
  2. Enhanced Muscle Protein Synthesis Post-Workout: A study published in Physiology Reports provided fascinating insights into how protein intake affects muscle protein synthesis after exercise. The study included individuals with varying levels of lean body mass—both low and high—and had them consume either 20 grams or 40 grams of protein post-workout. Interestingly, both groups, regardless of their initial muscle mass, showed similar increases in MPS with the higher protein intake. This suggests that doubling your protein intake post-exercise can be beneficial for muscle building, regardless of your current muscle mass.
  3. Improved Recovery: Recovery is a critical aspect of any fitness regimen, and protein plays a vital role in this process. A study published in Nutrients focused on the 24-hour recovery period post-exercise and found that higher protein intake significantly reduces muscle protein breakdown. This means that not only does protein aid in muscle repair, but it also enhances overall recovery, allowing you to maintain consistent performance and reduce the risk of overtraining.
  4. Better Sleep Quality: Protein intake has been linked to improved sleep quality, an often overlooked aspect of fitness and overall health. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who increased their protein consumption to 10%, 20%, or 30% of their total caloric intake over 12 weeks experienced better sleep. This was measured using the Global Sleep Score (GSS), which showed a dose-dependent improvement in sleep quality with higher protein intake. The study also included a 16-week phase where protein intake was adjusted based on body weight, further confirming that higher protein levels contribute to significantly better sleep, especially when in a caloric deficit.
  5. Reduced Muscle Loss During Weight Loss: Maintaining muscle mass during weight loss is a common challenge. A study published in FASEB Journal demonstrated that participants in a 40% caloric deficit who consumed higher levels of protein preserved more muscle mass compared to those with lower protein intake. While all participants lost similar amounts of weight, those with higher protein intake lost more fat and retained more muscle. This highlights the importance of protein in preserving muscle mass and enhancing body composition during weight loss.

Related: Casein vs Whey Protein: Which is Best for Your Goals?

Potential Downsides of Doubling Protein Intake

  1. Bad Breath: One of the less pleasant side effects of increasing protein intake is the potential for bad breath, often described as a sweet, ammonia-like smell. This occurs because of the byproducts produced when protein is broken down in the body. When you significantly boost your protein consumption, your body may initially struggle to process the excess, leading to an accumulation of these byproducts. However, this side effect is typically temporary and can be managed by gradually increasing protein intake to allow your body to adapt.
  2. Dehydration: Protein acts as a natural diuretic, which can lead to dehydration if adequate hydration is not maintained. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that increased protein intake raises urine gravity and nitrogen levels, both indicators of dehydration. This means that while increasing protein can offer numerous benefits, it also requires an increase in water intake to balance the diuretic effect and maintain proper hydration levels.
  3. Digestive Issues: Higher protein intake, especially from sources like whey protein, can cause digestive discomfort for some individuals. This can include symptoms like bloating, gas, and constipation. These issues are often more pronounced when the increase in protein is rapid or when relying heavily on specific protein sources. To mitigate these effects, it’s advisable to diversify protein sources and ensure adequate fibre and water intake to support digestion.
  4. Kidney Strain: While the impact of high protein intake on kidney health is still a topic of debate, there is some concern that it could strain the kidneys, particularly in individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from protein metabolism, and a significant increase in protein intake can potentially increase the workload on these organs. It is essential for individuals with kidney issues or those concerned about kidney health to consult a healthcare professional before making substantial changes to their protein intake.

Practical Tips for Increasing Protein Intake

  1. Gradual Increase:

Gradually increase protein intake by 25% increments to allow the body to adapt and reduce potential side effects like bad breath or digestive issues.

  1. Varied Sources:

Include diverse protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and plant-based proteins to ensure a balanced nutrient intake and minimise digestive discomfort.

Casein vs Whey Protein
  1. Hydration:

Increase water intake by at least 50% when doubling protein to prevent dehydration and support digestion.

  1. Balanced Diet:

Maintain a balanced diet that includes ample vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to provide necessary vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

5 Basic Principles to Optimise Your Nutrition

Doubling your protein intake can offer numerous benefits, including increased muscle mass, improved recovery, better sleep quality, and reduced muscle loss during weight loss. However, it also comes with potential downsides such as bad breath, dehydration, digestive issues, and potential kidney strain.

By gradually increasing protein intake, diversifying protein sources, and staying hydrated, you can maximise the benefits while mitigating the risks. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

For a deeper understanding and more information on what happens to your body when you double your protein intake, you can watch Thomas DeLauer’s video below.

Read Also: Doctor Explains Who Should NOT Try the Carnivore Diet

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