Is a High Protein Diet Bad For You? Part 3

Current nutritional guidelines recommend we eat 0.8g of protein per kilogram bodyweight. I weigh 64.5kg (142lbs), meaning that I should be eating about 52g of protein per day. To put into perspective how easy this is, the Walmart chicken breast I ate for lunch contains close to 50g of protein!

See where I’m going with this?

The truth is that even without supplementation, the majority of us will have no trouble meeting our daily “recommended” protein requirements with our normal 3+ meals. This begs the question, what happens if I exceed my recommended daily intake? Is too much protein bad for you?

I recently debunked 2 of the biggest myths associated with high protein diets; increased risk of developing kidney disease (click here) and deterioration of our bones (click here). A third major concern is the development of cardiovascular disease.

Where does this concern originate?

  1. Diets rich in protein are usually accompanied by high saturated fat and cholesterol intakes.
  2. Also, countries with low rates of ischemic heart disease tend to have low protein intakes.

Is there any merit to this claim?

High Protein Diet Myths Part 3: High Protein Diets Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Once again, there does not seem to be any actual strong human evidence that links increased protein intake with CVD (trials in rabbits and rats have found negative impact of high animal versus plant protein consumption). In fact, replacing carbohydrates with protein in human diets has been found to lower LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride concentrations and actually increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

In a prospective study of over 80,000 women, a higher protein intake was actually associated with a slight decreased risk of ischemic heart disease after a 14 year follow-up period. This data is in accordance with other research showing improved blood lipid profiles after replacing high carbohydrate diets with high protein, assuming calories are kept the same of course. In addition, studies have reported either neutral or positive effects of high protein diets on cholesterol in humans.

In summary, it does not appear that eating large amounts of protein every day in an attempt to build muscle or lose weight negatively impacts any of the following:

  1. Kidney Health
  2. Bone Health
  3. Risk of CVD

Continue on including lots of protein from a variety of sources, both animal and plant, in your diet worry-free!

If you have any inquires stop into SST today and talk with a very knowledgeable coach about healthy ways to start eating more protein without gaining weight. Also, try our amazing RESULTS ORIENTED Butts & Guts boot camp and email me directly for a complimentary nutrition assessment.

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Performance Coach SST Burlington

MSc candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

Chico7@sstcanada.com

Is a High Protein Diet Bad For You? Part 2

Last week, I started discussing the versatile role protein plays in the human body and how high protein diets are being prescribed in both sports nutrition and weight management settings (click here to view). As a result, a growing concern exists about the negative health consequences that may arise from eating too much protein. One of those concerns is the over-stressing of the kidneys leading to renal disease and eventually renal failure. This does not seem to be the case in healthy adult populations; however, high protein diets can accelerate the progression in those who already have existing kidney disease.

High Protein Diet Myths Part 2: High Protein Diets are Bad for Bone Health

The metabolism of sulfer containing amino acids (methionine & cysteine) creates a highly acidic environment within the body, resulting in a lower blood pH. If the acidic load is too high for the kidneys to handle, the belief is that the skeleton (a major calcium storage organ) releases calcium to act as a buffer and neutralize the acidic environment. This results in decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mass. This notion is supported by findings of increased 24h-urinary calcium excretion and lower urinary pH after high protein intakes.

Not so fast!

Two of the most recent comprehensive reviews and meta-analysis (published in 2009 & 2011) examining protein intake and BMD found that dietary protein is not harmful to bone health and may actually INCREASE BMD!

The acidic load created by high protein diets are buffered by our lungs (increased ventilation) and kidneys (increased filtration) to keep our blood pH within very narrow normal limits, and the increased urinary calcium does not alter calcium balance (high protein diets usually accompanied by high phosphorus intakes, which retains calcium).

Ok, so we’ve established that high protein diets being bad for bone health is a myth, but what about the part where it might actually increase bone mass?

That’s correct; a small, positive effect of protein supplementation on increased lumbar spine BMD in randomized placebo-controlled trials supports this claim. It is important to note that more recent findings suggest that if calcium intake is inadequate, this positive effect may not be seen (dietary calcium serves as the acidic buffer from high protein diets).

How does protein improve bone health?

Several mechanisms help explain this:

  1. Increased production of insulin-like growth factor: IGF-1 increases osteoblast activity (bone formation) and may also promote bone matrix mineralization.
  2. Increases the amount of calcium absorbed by the intestines.
  3. Suppresses parathyroid hormone production – PTH causes bones to release calcium into blood and kidneys to retain calcium.
  4. Increasing muscle mass – stronger muscles allow for more effective and heavier weight-bearing, strengthening your bones.

If you would like strategies on how to effectively increase your protein intake without gaining weight, stop into SST and try out our excellent Butts & Guts bootcamp with a complimentary nutritional assessment.

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Performance Coach SST Burlington

MSc candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

Chico7@sstcanada.com

Is a High Protein Diet Bad For You?

High protein diets are necessary for athletes needing to build or maintain muscle mass during intensive training schedules. High protein diets are also used as dietary interventions for overweight individuals that need to lose weight and body fat without losing muscle. There are millions of proteins in our bodies serving a wide variety functions, including; serving as the building blocks for muscle tissue, making enzymes necessary for metabolism, acting as anti-bodies helping to protect the body, etc.

If high protein diets are so good, then why aren’t more people doing it?

When I first started training several years ago, there was a major concern about the side-effects that high protein diets have on the body. Research has since debunked a lot of these myths, some of which I will be covering in the next upcoming blogs.

High Protein Diet Myths Part 1High Protein Diets Lead to Kidney Disease

Nitrogen is one of the bi-products of protein metabolism. In an attempt to filter out the excess nitrogen from high protein diets, the liver creates urea to serve as a carrier for nitrogen. Urea and nitrogen are filtered out and excreted by the kidneys. Logically, it makes sense that consuming large amounts of protein may lead to over-stressing the kidneys and therefore malfunction.

Higher rates of glomerular filtration rate and blood urea nitrogen are common with high protein diets. However, these quantities remain within normal physiological limits. In a study where bodybuilders consumed 2.8g/kg of protein per day, no negative changes were seen in any kidney function tests. In fact, a cross-sectional study from 2016 concluded that higher protein diets were associated with lower adiposity and HDL cholesterol and no impairment in kidney function in healthy adults! There does not seem to be any actual existing evidence that high protein consumption leads to kidney malfunction in HEALTHY adults.

However, higher protein diets may accelerate the progression of kidney failure in individuals with EXISTING kidney disease. For this reason, those with kidney disease are recommended to eat about half of the RDA of 0.8g/kg/day.

Stay tuned, next week I will debunk another myth associated with high protein diets.

If you would like strategies on how to effectively increase your protein intake without gaining weight, stop into SST and try out our excellent Butts & Guts bootcamp with a complimentary nutritional assessment.

Chris Anderi

Head Strength Performance Coach SST Burlington

MSc candidate, Physiology & Nutrition

CSEP-CEP

chico7@sstcanada.com