Can Eating Too Much Protein Be Bad For You?

Can Eating Too Much Protein Be Bad For You?

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The short answer is: No!

As long as your kidneys and liver function normally, your body will metabolize excess protein and you will excrete it in your urine. The tolerable upper limit of protein intake is not well established, but keep reading to learn more

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Who should be cautious of too much protein?

Protein, when broken down, is turned into ammonia (NH3) and ammonia-based byproducts.

This process occurs primarily in the liver and is known as the urea cycle. If you have liver disease, for example from hepatitis or excessive alcohol use, then you may not metabolize these byproducts appropriately.

Generally speaking, the kidneys are what excrete the waste products produced in the liver. If you have kidney disease, for example from diabetes or high blood pressure, then you may not excrete these waste products appropriately.

For this reason, folks with severe kidney or  liver disease are often put on protein-restricted diets

General protein intake guidelines

  1. If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
  2. If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.
  3. If you are sedentary and not looking to change body composition much, a daily target of 0.8g/kg bodyweight (0.36g/lb bodyweight) and upwards would be a good target

A couple pointers if you are concerned

  1. Some nutritionists would argue that you should increase your protein intake slowly over a few weeks rather than jumping into the deep end and double or tripling it right away. This will give your body time to upregulate the enzymes that allow you to metabolize and excrete the protein your body doesn’t use.
  2. Increasing your water intake may be helpful as well to promote excretion of excess waste.
  3. As always, consult a medical provider if you have more concerns.
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