Pass on Protein Cereals?
I've been seeing new protein cereals in the market, some with as much as 12 grams of protein per serving. If I'm trying to bulk up, should I increase my protein intake via these cereals? Is it possible to get too much protein?
Our bodies use dietary protein to repair and build new tissue. The need for protein is greatest during childhood (for growth), when recovering from a serious illness or injury, or if you're a nursing mother. Otherwise, daily protein requirements are easily met by as little as four ounces of chicken, fish, cheese, or tofu.
If you eat more protein than your body needs, the extra is burned -- not very efficiently -- for fuel. And the higher your protein intake, the greater the workload you impose on your digestive system, liver, and kidneys. This may lead to feelings of fatigue and a lack of energy. While you can lose weight rapidly on some version of the ever-popular high-protein diet, most of what's lost is water -- and you'll regain that as soon as you resume a normal diet. What's more, getting too much protein actually has a diuretic effect and leaches minerals such as calcium out of the body -- and that could, over time, lead to weakened bones and osteoporosis.
I really don't understand the urge body builders have to "bulk up." At its worst, in order to appear physically fit, body building encourages unsound dietary practices. This includes an emphasis on high-protein foods and protein and amino acid supplements. As a group, the body builders I have known aren't any healthier than other people -- some are less healthy because they treat their bodies improperly.
In evaluating a cereal, I think you should pay more attention to the amount of fiber you'll be getting. To be worthwhile, a cereal should give you at least 4 to 5 grams of bran per 1 ounce serving. (You should be eating 40 grams of fiber daily.) Of course, if your favorite cereal doesn't deliver enough fiber, you can buy straight bran and give your breakfast a sprinkle. But I see no reason to add protein to your diet via high-protein cereals.