Our entire lives, we’ve been taught that every meal has to contain protein to be nutritious. And if you’re feeling hungry, protein is the magic key to filling you up fast. And that the biggest challenge of eating a vegetarian or vegan diet is that it’s tough to make sure you’re getting adequate protein. Well, it might officially be time to stop pushing the issue.
Most American women eat about twice the protein they actually need in a day, says health writer Sophie Egan in the New York Times. The recommended daily intake? 46 grams. The average U.S. woman, on the other hand, easily eats 100 grams of protein in a 24-hour period. Even most vegetarian and vegan women are in the ballpark of 60 to 80 grams of protein a day.
We can thank protein-packed snacks, energy bars and larger portions at restaurants for helping us become protein overachievers. The occasional overdose is no big deal, but if you’re mixing protein powder into your peanut butter and washing it down with a protein shake, keep in mind there are long-term effects, like an increased risk of kidney damage.
The bottom line? Don’t worry about getting enough protein. You probably are. And maybe swap that energy bar for an apple once in a while.