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A high-protein diet led to a woman’s death—but should you be worried?


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Photo: Stocksy/Darren Muir

Especially if burpees and dead lifts are a regular part of your routine, protein is a staple of a well-rounded diet—with more and more women making sure they’re getting their daily dose of the muscle-building nutrient. Many add it to their smoothies, make sure meals are packed with it, and even sneak it into dessert. But how much is too much?

After news reports surfaced about Meegan Hefford, a 25-year-old Australian bodybuilder who died suddenly, many people are worried about their own intake. Hefford suffered from a preexisting condition called urea cycle disorder, a rare ailment that prevents the body from breaking down protein properly. Ultimately, it caused her untimely death due to her high-protein intake.

Since the disorder is rare—1 in 8,500 births, to be exact—it’s very unlikely to be something you have to worry about.

But before you go on a Googling frenzy, know this: Since the disorder is rare—1 in 8,500 births, to be exact—it’s very unlikely to be something you have to worry about. Especially if you’re eating a normal, balanced diet.

As a rule of thumb, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women is 46 grams of protein per day. If you’re bodybuilding (or ingest a much higher amount for some other reason), it’s always a good idea to chat with your doctor anyway.

But if you’re feeling wary of adding a scoop of protein powder into your morning mix—whether you’re a bodybuilder or lean toward the Paleo end of things—don’t feel silly about chatting with your doc about it. Since most cases of the condition go undiagnosed, there’s no harm in making sure you’re A-okay.

If you’re looking to change up your habits and need a little supermarket inspo, here are the healthiest foods at Trader Joe’s—and pick up the grocer’s new sparkling-water flavors while you’re there.