A Diet Which Is High In Protein Is Dangerous For Your Kidneys | Truth Or Myth
Those who have tried a high protein diet must have heard this warning from his/her friends and relatives. I have seen in many forums people claiming a high protein diet might help you to lose weight but can also put your kidney at risk. So what’s the deal between a high protein diet and kidney? How much of the above statement is backed by science and research? This article will get to the bottom of this question and will help you with all the facts and figures so that you can make your own decision.
What is protein?
Proteins are large and complex molecules which play vital roles in the body. In simple terms, we can call it building blocks of life which are required by our body for various functional purposes. Proteins are made up of amino acids. 20 different types of amino acids are combined to form protein and the quality of a protein it depends on the amino acid.
Plant Vs. Animal proteins.
If we look at the classification, amino acids are classified as essential or non-essential amino acids. Our body can produce Non-essential amino acids but the essential amino acids we need to get from food.
Foods such as meat, eggs, fish have a protein similar to the protein found in our body and hence are considered a complete source of protein because they have all the essential amino acid in the right proportion.
Whereas foods such as lentils and nuts they don’t have all the essential amino acids that’s why it is an incomplete source of protein.
Some people claim soy protein is a complete source of protein. But it appears soy protein lacks one or more essential amino acids, and hence we cannot claim it to be equivalent to animal-based protein.
Since animals have muscle tissues similar to us humans thus, proteins we get from animal’s are considered as a complete source of protein.
How much protein do we need?
A healthy human body needs at least 0.8grams per kg of your body weight to prevent any protein inadequacy but, let me tell you this requirement is sufficient enough to prevent any protein deficiency but not sufficient enough for your body’s optimal performance.
Now when it comes to people who are physically active and are spending time in the gym, they need protein more than 0.8 grams per kg of your body weight. For those who work out, they need protein much more than that.
High protein diet is dangerous for your kidneys?
Many people claim a large amount of protein intake it puts extra workload on our kidney but how much of this is backed by science? As per research conducted for seven days on athletes who were on a high and medium protein intake diet. Researchers found that kidney was functioning normally in all the athletes and they concluded stating a high protein diet does not impair renal function in athletes. For reference click here
In another research, which was done for a longer period on women. Researchers found that high protein intake did not cause any problem in women with normal kidney function, however, in women who had “mild renal insufficiency” researchers stated that “consuming a large amount of protein accelerated the renal decline.”
Below is the screenshot of the conclusion from another research which concludes as below. For the complete research, article click here.
High protein diet may cause a problem in people who are diagnosed with kidney disease, but this doesn’t apply to individuals with healthy kidneys. That means a high protein diet is okay to follow for those with healthy kidneys.
If we look at the major causes of kidney failure which are high blood pressure and diabetes and surprisingly a high protein intake, in fact, could be beneficial for both, high blood pressure as well as diabetes.
By looking at all the facts and figures, we can conclude that there is no solid evidence that a high protein diet could harm our kidneys. On the contrary, we have several benefits of protein which are:
1. Increased muscle mass
2. Keep you full for long
3. Reduced risk of obesity
4. May help you lose weight.
Is there no limit or recommendation for protein? Does that mean we can have as much protein as possible?
The consumption of protein can vary under various circumstances and need for protein can increase accordingly. Having said that this doesn’t mean we can have a relatively high protein intake if our activity level is very less or if we are hardly doing any physical activity. Normally our body is more used to burning carbs for fuel, and an excessive amount of protein all of a sudden may cause harm as too much of anything could be harmful. Thus we cannot say that one can have protein in any amount.
In research and study on healthy individuals who consumed up to 3 grams of protein per kg of body weight also showed no harmful effect. Moreover, a study on really a super high protein intake, i.e., 4.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight for a period of up to two months showed no side effects in resistance-trained individuals.
Hence, we cannot predict how much protein is harmful. However, we should consider our activity level before deciding how protein we should consume. For normal human being with less activity level, it is still better to have 0.8grams of proteins per kg of body weight.
Moral of the story:
Thus by now, we can say there is no proper evidence to support to that a high protein diet is dangerous for kidneys.
However, if you have any prior history of kidney disease, it is better to consult your doctor and follow the doctor’s advice before considering any such diet.
Moreover, if you are someone who has a certain level of physical activity and you are following a balanced diet including high protein food, there is nothing to worry.
Stay Healthy Stay Strong
Note: We are not trying to promote, nor we are recommending anything here. We intend to bring facts in front of our readers to spread awareness. We believe our health and fitness should not revolve around any myths.