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No, protein does not hurt your kidneys!

How many times have you heard someone say, don’t eat too much protein it will hurt your kidneys? I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Is there actually any validity to this? Sure if you have poor functioning kidneys to begin with (like those with renal failure), then a high protein diet is not for you. Yes, protein takes more of a load to process and filtrate in the kidneys. But if you have normal functioning kidneys, studies show no deleterious effects on the kidneys. The International Society of Sports Nutrition states that “protein intakes of 1.4-2.0 g/kg/day for physically active individuals is not only safe, but may improve the training adaptations to exercise training.” Higher protein intakes actually have positive effects when it comes to body composition and loss of fat mass. Many studies have been done to demonstrate the safety of high protein intake on healthy individuals (Antonio et al 2016, Martin et al, 2005, and Poortmans and Dellalieux, 2000). In fact, even “extremely high” protein diets (~3.4–4.4 g/kg/day) have shown no harmful effects on the kidneys (Antonio et al 2015 and 2016). Even more interesting is that research has shown that patients with diabetes (which is the biggest cause of kidney failure) had no signs of kidney dysfunction (if they did not have any to begin with) when fed a high protein diet ( Wycherley et al 2010). So even if you are at higher risk for kidney dysfunction, unless you have a diagnosed kidney disease, there is no safety risk in eating a high protein diet. Go eat some chicken and wash it down with a protein shake!

For more information or if you just love reading scientific literature you can check out these references:

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2016/9104792/

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/33/5/969.long

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