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Nutrition for Women

Ask the Nutritionist: How Much Is Too Much Protein?

What happens if you eat more protein than your body needs?

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Your individual protein needs will depend on a few factors, including bodyweight, age, activity level and overall health. Active women trying to gain muscle can eat a little more than average, but if your goals skew more toward endurance, performance or fat loss, excess protein intake could mean added body fat.

In fact, excess intake of any kind of calories will be converted to stored energy — both in the form of glycogen and body fat. If you’re on the fence about whether to increase your protein, try boosting your carbs first: Carbs are your body’s preferred source of fuel and are needed for optimal energy and performance. Adequate carb intake also can help prevent catabolism, in which your body breaks down and uses your lean body mass as fuel, reducing metabolism and muscle strength and increasing cramping and soreness.