Cell growth is driven by the synthesis of proteins, genes, and other cellular components. Defining processes that limit biosynthesis rates is fundamental for understanding the determinants of cell physiology. Here, we analyze the consequences of engineering cells to express extremely high levels of mCherry proteins, as a tool to define limiting processes that fail to adapt upon increasing biosynthetic demands. Protein-burdened cells were transcriptionally and phenotypically similar to mutants of the Mediator, a transcription coactivator complex. However, our binding data suggest that the Mediator was not depleted from endogenous promoters. Burdened cells showed an overall increase in the abundance of the majority of endogenous transcripts, except for highly expressed genes. Our results, supported by mathematical modeling, suggest that wild-type cells transcribe highly expressed genes at the maximal possible rate, as defined by the transcription machinery’s physical properties. We discuss the possible cellular benefit of maximal transcription rates to allow a coordinated optimization of cell size and cell growth.