Is Too Much Protein Bad For Your Kidneys

Does A Diet Too High Protein Hurt Your Kidneys

Is Protein Bad for your kidneys (Particularly Protein Shakes!)

Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, MD, MPH, PhDa nephrologist and lead researcher of the JASN studysays, High-protein intake overburdens the functional units of the kidneys that filter and clean blood.

Especially for low-carb living, eggs at breakfast, chicken for lunch, or a juicy sirloin for dinner are considered to be disciplined diet choices. But clinical professionals like Dr. Kalantar-Zadeh advise pumping the brakes on protein intake to reduce strain on your kidneys. As Dr. Kalantar-Zadeh explains, When we eat excess protein, more toxic waste products need to be removed by the kidneys, causing them to be overworked. Otherwise, these waste products accumulate in the blood, leading to chronic kidney disease .

To put this another way, Brittany Lubeck, RD, a registered dietitian, explains: Protein is a rather complex substance that takes your digestive system longer to break down and your kidneys longer to filter.

Excess protein harms your kidneys, but the type of protein you eat matters, too. Animal protein sources contain higher amounts of purineschemical compounds broken down by the body to form uric acid . Having too many waste products in your blood means the kidneys will have to work overtime to flush them out of your system.

Youre practicing good nutrition, but theres always more to learnread Dietitians Just Shared 6 Tips to Help Your Gut Absorb Vitamin D.

How Much Protein Do You Need A Recent Study Suggests That On Average Americans Are Eating Twice As Much Than Is Good For Us Here’s A Reliable Formula

Youve probably seen plenty of it on social media: the body-building posts, the how it started vs. how its going weight loss memes the What I Eat in a Day videos . A high-protein diet is one approach to fitness that a lot of influencers promote, and maybe thats no wonderhigh protein intake is popularly associated with weight loss, muscle-building, tissue repair, and getting leaner overall.

But when we load our plates with meat, snack on multiple protein bars a day, and drink our protein shakes in the name of health, its important to keep in mind: as with pretty much anything we humans do for short-term gains, too much of this powerful macronutrient can cause long-term health problems you might not realize.

Sure, protein can slim down your waistline to showcase that beach bod youve worked so hard for . However, eating too much protein can be tough on your kidneysvital organs for filtering and cleaning the blood. And lately, its arguable that our collective love affair with protein has officially become too much: a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewedJournal of the American Society of Nephrology reveals the average consumption of protein in the U.S. is nearly twice as much as the recommended daily intake.

The Rise In Popularity Of High

The estimated average requirement for protein intake is 0.6 g of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day, which corresponds to the amount of protein required to avoid negative nitrogen balance and to meet half of a populations requirements. The recommended daily allowance for protein intake is 0.83 g/kg per day and is calculated to meet the requirements of 97%98% of the population . Although there is a lack of consensus regarding the formal definition of a high-protein diet, most definitions set a threshold between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg per day. Within this range, protein consumption > 1.5 g/kg per day is generally considered to be a high-protein diet. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that the current average consumption of protein in the United States is estimated to be approximately 1.21.4 g/kg per day, which is higher than the recommended amount. Popular weight-loss diets encourage higher amounts of protein while restricting the amount of carbohydrates, based on the assumption that all carbohydrates are undesirablean assumption that has been refuted in the literature. Although such diets vary, these weight-loss strategies typically recommend that 25%35% of calories consumed should be from protein and < 45% of calories should be from carbohydrates . In extreme cases, such as the ketogenic diet, < 5%10% of calories are from carbohydrates.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

If you find out you have nephrotic syndrome, talk with your doctor about the cause of your symptoms and what treatment is best for you. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What is causing my symptoms?
  • Have you ruled out FSGS and other primary causes of nephrotic syndrome?
  • What can I do to manage my symptoms?
  • How much more time do I have until I will need to either get a transplant or go on dialysis?
  • What are the chances that my nephrotic syndrome will return if I get a transplant?
  • What can I do to avoid losing my new kidney to nephrotic syndrome after my transplant?
  • Protein Does Not Cause Osteoporosis

    Is too much protein bad for your kidneys?

    Some people believe that a high protein intake can contribute to osteoporosis.

    The theory is that protein increases the acid load of your body, which then causes the body to take calcium out of the bones to neutralize the acid .

    Even though there are some studies showing increased short-term calcium excretion, this effect does not persist over the long term .

    In fact, longer-term studies do not support this idea. In one 9-week study, replacing carbohydrates with meat did not affect calcium excretion and improved some hormones known to promote bone health, like IGF-1 .

    A review published in 2017 concluded that increased protein intake does not harm the bones. If anything, the evidence pointed to a higher protein intake improving bone health .

    Multiple other studies show that a higher protein intake is a good thing when it comes to your bone health.

    For example, it may improve your bone density and lower the risk of fractures. It also increases IGF-1 and lean mass, both known to promote bone health .

    There are plenty of other potentially helpful nutritional strategies. If you want to learn more, check out this article on 10 natural ways to build healthy bones.


    Long-term studies show that a high protein intake may improve your bone health. It does not cause osteoporosis.

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    Bottom Line: Eating Too Much Protein Poses Long

    Protein is an essential macronutrient with many health benefits, but Americans consume far too much, negatively impacting their health. Optimize your health by getting your protein from whole food plant-based sources. Eat protein in moderation and within a healthy caloric range. Consider fasting methods to reduce your disease risk and improve long-term health.

    For more great expert advice, visit The Beet’s Health & Nutrition articles.

    What If Your Kidneys Arent In Perfect Health

    So, should you be cautious about your protein intake? While research suggests that those with normally-functioning kidneys should be just fine, it might not be the right approach for everyone. And a high-protein diet may potentially pose problems if youre already suffering from issues in kidney function.

    An investigation by researchers at Brigham and Womens Hospital found that high-protein diets may be associated with declining kidney function in women who already have mildly reduced functioning of this organ as measured by the glomerular filtration rate an indication of how effectively our kidneys are filtering the blood to remove waste from the body. Women with impaired kidney function who consumed diets high in protein experienced the most significant decline in GFR.

    On further analysis, the risk was greater with increased animal protein intake, indicating that the source of protein may be an important factor. Perhaps eating more plant-based proteins is gentler on the kidneys.

    Importantly, researchers observed no association between high protein intake and decline in kidney function in women with normal functioning kidneys. And protein intake levels up to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day in men who were weight training was shown to not negatively impact kidney functioning.

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    What Are Plant Proteins

    Plant proteins are proteins that come from plant sources. These include legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and soy.

    Animal proteins are a complete protein source. They provide all the amino acids you need. But plant proteins lack one or more of these essential amino acids. For example, legumes are low in amino acids cysteine and methionine. Grains are low in lysine.

    When you eat plant protein, combine a variety of different plant sources so that you get all the amino acids your body needs.

    Is Too Much Protein Bad For You

    How much PROTEIN is SAFE for your Kidneys?

    Regularly eating high amounts of protein is associated with a myriad of adverse health outcomes. For example, Emily Clairmont, MS, RD, from the University of Vermont, says, Consuming too much protein can result in an imbalanced gut microbiome as well as dehydration, because our bodies needs more water to flush out excess nitrogen instead of using it for other important bodily functions.

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    Were Eating Too Much Of Everything

    Its not just protein that were consuming in excess. Americans are eating more than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, The average American consumed 2,481 calories a day in 2010, or 23 percent more than in 1970. Today, that number is even higher: Americans eat an average of over 3,680 calories a day an amount way over the recommended intake of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

    Why is this a problem? Eating too many calories raises the risk for obesity, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Whats more of an issue is that these excess calories arent coming in the form of healthy whole foods. According to the report, the average American is loading up on ultra-processed sweets and fatty convenience foods high in refined oils and sugars rather than getting most of their calories from whole foods.

    The good news is that preventing adverse health outcomes and reducing your risk of chronic disease is entirely within your control. How? Simply by eating less and adding more whole plant foods to your diet. In his book, The Cancer Code, Dr. Jason Fung, MD, explores how restricting calories in a healthy way through fasting methods can help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases, maintain a healthy weight, and even reverse type 2 diabetes.

    Plant Protein And Kidney Health

    Some studies have found that replacing some of the animal protein in your diet with plant protein may lower your risk of kidney problems.

    A study of 4,881 people in Iran found that when one serving of red and processed meat was replaced with one serving of nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, there was a lower risk of chronic kidney disease.

    Researchers looked at data from 1,065 people with chronic kidney disease in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. They found that for people with chronic kidney disease, with every 33% increase in plant protein intake, theres a 23% lower risk of death.

    Experts have yet to determine why animal protein may be more toxic to your kidneys than plant protein.

    Some researchers say it may be because eating more plant protein can help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and uric acid. Plant sources of protein are also rich in nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These nutrients may help improve your kidney function. More research is needed to learn how plant protein benefits kidney health.

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    How Is Protein In Urine Diagnosed

    Testing for protein in urine is typically done via a test called a urinalysis. This simple urine test can detect protein levels in the urine and can be conducted in a doctors office. After your urine sample is collected, it is tested with a dipstick. When your urine has large amounts of protein, the strip of paper will change color. Technicians may also examine the sample via microscope.

    If a urinalysis detects protein in the urine, your doctor will likely order an additional urine test or tests to determine if you have kidney disease. Your doctor may also conduct blood tests to measure your glomerular filtration rate , which can tell them how well your kidneys are filtering out waste, as well as other blood tests if needed to help identify the cause of the proteinuria. Additional tests may include an ultrasound, CT scan, or kidney biopsy.

    When your urine is tested for protein, the test compares the amounts of albumin and creatinine, an amino acid, in your urine. A urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio higher than 30 milligrams per gram observed more than twice over a three-month period may indicate kidney disease.

    If you get an abnormal result that detects protein in urine, your doctor will also probably want to check your cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure to determine what conditions might be contributing to proteinuria.

    Protein Intake And Kidney Damage

    Is too much protein bad for your kidneys?

    The kidneys are remarkable organs that filter waste compounds, excess nutrients and liquids out of the bloodstream, producing urine.

    Some say that your kidneys need to work hard to clear the metabolites of protein from your body, leading to increased strain on the kidneys.

    Adding some more protein to your diet may increase their workload a little, but this increase is quite insignificant compared to the immense amount of work your kidneys already do.

    About 20% of the blood your heart pumps through your body goes to the kidneys. In an adult, the kidneys may filter around 48 gallons of blood every single day.

    High protein intake may cause harm in people with diagnosed kidney disease, but the same doesnt apply to people with healthy kidneys (

    18 ).

    In conclusion, there is no evidence that a high protein intake harms kidney function in people who dont have kidney disease.

    On the contrary, it has plenty of health benefits and may even help you lose weight .


    A high protein intake has been shown to accelerate kidney damage in people who have kidney disease. However, higher protein diets dont adversely affect kidney function in healthy people.

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    What Are The Complications Of Nephrotic Syndrome

    When you have nephrotic syndrome, an important protein called albumin leaks into your urine instead of getting filtered by the kidneys as it should. Albumin helps your body get rid of extra fluid. When you do not have enough albumin in your blood, fluid can build up in your body, causing swelling in your legs, feet and ankles. You can also have other problems such as blood clots and infections.

    With nephrotic syndrome, cholesterol also builds up in your blood. When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, clumps form inside your veins and arteries, which can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

    Nephrotic syndrome can also cause other serious health problems such as:

    Your Kidneys And Protein

    Your kidneys remove the waste products that your body makes when breaking down protein. If you have more protein waste, your kidneys need to work harder to remove them. This may stress your kidneys.

    If you have too much protein waste, it can build up in your blood. This causes:

    Eating more plant protein may help take some stress off your kidneys. A study found that healthy people on vegetarian diets have significantly lower levels of creatinine than people who eat both meat and vegetables. Creatinine is a waste product that your muscles make.

    On the other hand, eating too much red meat may be bad for your kidneys. A 15-year study of 63,257 adults found that eating more red meat is linked to a higher risk for kidney failure . Those who ate the most red meat also ate the least fruits and vegetables.

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    What Is The Best Cure For High Protein In Urine

    Ayurvedic treatment for protein in urine may seem an outdated treatment but let us tell you that its the most effective cure for proteinuria. This holistic medical treatment mainly focusses on the internal body imbalances and correcting them naturally. In short, this natural treatment believes in working on the core of the body to correct any internal imbalance and stimulating bodys overall functionality. As a result, Ayurvedic treatment eradicates the complications of protein loss in urine and by curing the causative factors responsible for the problem. Consequently, Ayurvedic treatment for protein in urine cures your problem effectively by fixing the deep causes. In this program, herbal formulations, ancient therapies, a personalized diet and some lifestyle changes are the main elements of the treatment. Consequently, this natural treatment offers a lasting and risk-free cure to protein in urine and helps a patient live a normal life.

    OPT for a reputed Ayurvedic kidney hospital like Kidney and Ayurveda to acquire the best. Overcome protein loss in urine problem with the help of Ayurvedic treatment.

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    Higher Protein Intake Is Not Associated With Decreased Kidney Function In Pre

    Is protein bad for my kidneys?

    In this study, 355 pre-diabetic men and women were split into following two different dietary systems

    • A moderate protein diet: 15% of energy
    • A high protein diet: 25% of energy

    The higher protein diet worked out at 1.6 grams protein per kilogram of body weight.

    Throughout the study, lab tests demonstrated increased serum urea and urea excretion were consistent with increased protein intake.

    After a 12-month period, there were no indications that the participants on higher protein diets had experienced any adverse effects on kidney function.

    Interestingly, there was even a slight indication of improved kidney function with increasing protein intake.

    In short, the study found no detrimental effects of a high protein diet on kidney health and no negative changes to any health markers.

    Key Point:

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