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Is Protein In Food A Health Halo?

Food researchers say we're increasingly interested in healthy foods and the word 'protein' has a "health halo". Which means, if the package says "protein," shoppers will snap it up, thinking it must be healthy.

For example - parents think extra protein will give their kid energy for soccer practice. Workers pick protein bars instead of candy, thinking it'll help them focus. And exercisers view protein as the ultimate energy-booster, which helps build muscles, and improves strength and endurance.

But do we actually need all that protein in our diet? According to the CDC, the answer's no. In fact, most of us already eat more protein than we need.

Because even though protein increases metabolism it can still make you GAIN WEIGHT. Nutritionists say no matter what you eat - if you overeat - you'll gain weight. And a lot of high protein foods are also high in calories - like steak, peanuts and even protein shakes.

The only reason high-protein diets like Atkins work is because you're supposed to cut your overall calories - not just increase the amount of protein you eat.

So can you eat too much protein? You bet. According to the American Heart Association, a high-protein diet can make your kidneys work overtime and may cause damage. Too much protein can also cause toxic chemicals, called ketones, to show up in your bloodstream. And when your liver is trying to filter out all those ketones, it can become damaged, too.