Dec 112003
Authors: Christiana Nelson

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

bulk up.

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,”

Salyards said.

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

Recreation, agreed.

“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

estate major.

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.

Harmony Road.

“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

benefit her.

“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.”

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