Red meat, chicken, whey protein shakes and 30 pounds later,
Aaron Novotny is three months into his protein diet.
“I researched protein on the Internet and made a decision,” said
Novotny, a freshman health and exercise science major who works out
five days a week and supplements his diet with protein to help him
Although many athletes and active individuals supplement
standard diets with protein, the average American already has more
than adequate protein in their diet, said Dawn Clifford, a
registered dietitian at Hartshorn Health Service.
“We know muscles need protein, but what’s wrong is that we don’t
need huge amounts of protein,” she said.
Colton Salyards, a junior mechanical engineering major, does not
take protein supplements, despite his active lifestyle.
“I feel that in my everyday diet, I get enough protein,”
In contrast, Loren Cordain, a health and exercise science
professor and the author of “Paleo Diet,” believes that protein is
a very important dietary addition, especially for athletes.
“Athletes need increased protein,” Cordain said. “I suggest a
diet that looks more like a Stone Age diet. They didn’t eat dairy
products, they didn’t eat grains; they just ate lean meats, fish,
fruits and vegetables.”
Cordain suggests maintaining a diet of fruits and vegetables
while increasing protein, but Clifford argues that the lack of
balance is one of the biggest problems with protein diets.
“Increased protein often means that you are missing out on other
food groups,” Clifford said.
Laura Anderson, a second-year graduate student and American
College Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer for the Campus
“Your body is only going to utilize so much protein,” Anderson
said. “You have to be careful to keep your energy in balance.”
Novotny admitted that not all of the 30 pounds he gained in the
past three months is muscle but said he will continue his protein
“I have to eat a lot and it is not all muscle, but you have to
take the good with the bad,” Novotny said.
Zach Chicoine started supplementing his diet with protein under
the advice of his University of Northern Colorado baseball coach
and said he has “been doing it so long it is a habit.”
“In the summer, when I have a little extra money I would buy
protein shakes, but otherwise I eat chicken and red meat, about
three to five servings a day,” said Chicoine, a senior finance real
Protein shakes have even become a popular alternative to eating
mass quantities of meat for people outside of athletics, said Sarah
Hill, a sales representative at General Nutrition Center, 238 E.
“We sell more protein than anything besides weight loss
(products),” Hill said. “People buy it for sports, for surgeries,
to help with weight loss, women use soy protein for menopause. We
sell it to young and old.”
Sophia Tribble, a sophomore sports medicine major, works out six
to seven days per week but still feels excess protein would not
“I’m more focused on staying in shape than achieving extra
muscle,” Tribble said.
There are no proven health consequences to taking excess
protein, but experts speculate that large amounts of protein may
put too much stress on the kidneys and cause kidney failure later
in life, Clifford said.
Clifford recommends the average person only ingest .8 to 1 gram
of protein per kilogram of body weight, equaling about 73 to 91
grams for a 200-pound person. She further recommends bodybuilders
take 1.5 to 1.7 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight,
which is approximately 136 to 155 grams of protein for a 200-pound
Although protein is a necessary dietary component, Clifford
emphasized the importance of considering activity levels before
ingesting additional protein.
“You can’t just eat,” Clifford said. “You have to put work in,
because what you don’t use for energy will be stored as fat.”