Can You Ever Have Too Much Protein?

Last Updated: November 17, 2018
Too Much Protein

Protein has many great benefits for your body: in fact it's one of the most important building blocks of all life! It helps generate muscle, repair damage to your body, and oxygenate our blood.

A lot of men are starting to focus on protein rich diets, either to get fit and gain muscle mass, or as part of "paleo" diets that cut carbs completely in favor of lots of red meat and veggies. It's gotten to the point that some people consume anywhere between six to seven times their daily recommended dose of protein! Which leads to the question: what negative side effects can come from protein overdose?

Kidney Problems

Your kidneys filter waste products from your natural bodily functions, including the ammonia created by digesting protein. So you might be thinking that as long as your kidney are fine, you have nothing to worry about, right?

Here's the issue: most people don't realize when their kidneys are having problems. It takes awhile for the symptoms to show up, and when they do, it's a gradual process that usually gives people time to address the issue.

However, since protein exacerbates kidney complications and difficulties, if something is wrong with your kidney, you might be making it worse by consuming lots of protein. Which means by the time the symptoms show up and you get the problem diagnosed, the kidney damage could be much more severe than it normally would be.

Liver Problems

Like the kidneys, the liver helps neutralize toxins in your body. It can only eliminate so much so fast, however, and overloading it can cause it to build up in your bloodstream and cause damage to your nervous system.

That's one of the reasons hepatic diseases and cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver are often treated by a reduction in protein intake, to reduce the possibility of ammonia building up in the blood faster than it can regulate it, leading to encephalopathy.

Weight and Cholesterol Gain

Protein is actually packed with calories, which is one reason why it's recommended for those that work out a lot: it's a very efficient source. The problem is that if you don't work out often to burn those calories, eating lots of protein leads to rapid weight gain: and most men eat far more protein than their activity level warrants.

Worse than that, protein rich foods can also be high in cholesterol, which combined with the sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, significantly increases their risk of heart disease. Some food are better than others when it comes to cholesterol intake, however: avoid deep fried and heavily processed foods, and only eat red meat once per day at most: if you can skip a few days and stick to eggs or chicken, all the better.

The average male should be eating around 56 grams of protein a day. If they do serious exercise and body building, a nutritionist or doctor should be consulted to determine what the best balance of protein in their diet is.

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