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