Health Benefits, Downsides to High-Protein Diets

Diets with large amounts of protein are all the rage. But are people getting more than they really need?
3:44 | 06/30/14

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Transcript for Health Benefits, Downsides to High-Protein Diets
Kicking off the "Gma" heat index. Protein is all the rage right now. We may be getting more than we actually need. Becky Worley has the story. Reporter: Blame is on Greek yogurt. There's a new protein, not what you might think. Double the protein. Reporter: Soon after instruction, Greek yogurt went through the roof, and food manufacturers noticed. Now they tote more protein. Protein pretzels, flap jacks, pancakes, 15 grams of the stuff. Oscar Mayer has the new p-3 package, kind of like a lunchble. The holy Trinity of protein. Even protein pasta. But here's the question, do I need to be eating that much more protein? The current recommendation is 46 grams per day for women, and 56 grams per day for men. Reporter: Translate that into Normal eating habits for a woman. A yogurt and fruit parfait, a mid-morning latte, and whole wheat bread with tuna for lunch. An afternoon snack with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and fish and vegetables for dinner. Reporter: But Atkins, and the idea that protein is good for losing weight have given this food trend a big marketing boost. Protein helps to preserve and build lean muscle mass. The more muscle, the more calories we burn. Reporter: And it might make sense if you have dietary challenges. I have a picky eater who won't eat eggs or meat, so sneaking extra protein into the pancakes, I like that. But there is a downside. Too much protein could lead to kidney stones. And too much protein at the expense of carbohydrates leads to Quito sis. Alerting the body it's in starving mode. All right, let's bring in ABC news senior medical contributor, Dr. Jen Ashton. We were admitting we overindulge in protein. Keotosis, what is that? It's the metabolic description when we don't have carbohydrates to burn, and we burn fat. Many have that overnight, not eating for 12 hours, you can see a little of it in the urine. For most people, it's not a harm. If you're a diabetic, and it's excessive, like anything, it can be bad. How much is too much? This is the interesting thing. When you hear about the protein recommendations, it is absolutely not a one size fits all. Ryan eats a lot, I do -- Protein shakes too. It's a lot of protein. But when you think about how you figure out how much do we actually need? It's based on age, gender, body weight, it's based on your activity level. You hear these Numbers, and it's easy to say, am I getting enough. This calculation, .36 grams per pound of body weight per day. That's the recommendation. Do simple math. Complicated math. Uh -- Sorry. We'll do it later. And if you're a child, it's going to vary by age, anywhere from 13 to 52 grams per day. Most of us get plenty if you get too much, yeah, it can affect your bones and kidneys. I couldn't do it in my head, Jen. We have a calculator. Carry the two. Great information. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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