The Protein Myth – Is Too Much Protein Bad For Your Bones and Kidneys?

Woman Holding a Protein ShakeThe “dangers” of protein are a persistent myth.

Some say that a high protein intake can “leach” calcium from bones and cause osteoporosis, or that protein can destroy your kidneys.

However, there really isn’t any evidence to support these claims.

A Quick Primer on The Importance of Protein

Proteins are the building blocks of life and every living cell uses them for both structural and functional purposes.

They are long chains of amino acids linked together like beads on a string, then folded into complex shapes.

There are 9 essential amino acids that we must get from the diet and 12 that are non-essential, which the body can produce out of other organic molecules.

The quality of a protein source depends on its amino acid profile. The best sources of protein in the diet contain all the essential amino acids in ratios that are appropriate for humans.

In this regard, animal proteins are better than plant proteins, which makes perfect sense given that the muscle tissues of animals are very similar to our own tissues.

The health authorities recommend an intake of 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women, varying between individuals based on age, body weight, activity levels and some other factors (1).

While this meager intake may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, it is not in any way sufficient to optimize health and body composition. People who are physically active or lift weights are going to need a lot more than that.

Bottom Line: Protein is an essential macronutrient. Even though the generally recommended intake may be enough to prevent deficiency, it is insufficient to optimize health and body composition.

Protein Does NOT Leach Calcium From Your Bones and Cause Osteoporosis

Meat

It is commonly believed that a high protein intake can contribute to osteoporosis.

The theory is that the 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 calcium excretion in the short term, this effect does not persist over the long term.

In fact, longer term studies do not support this idea at all. In one 9 week study, replacing carbohydrate with meat did not affect calcium excretion and improved some hormones known to promote bone health, like IGF-1 (2).

A review published in in 2011 concluded that there is no evidence that increased protein harms the bones. If anything, the evidence points to a higher protein intake improving bone health, NOT the other way around (3).

There are multiple other studies and papers showing that a higher protein intake is a good thing when it comes to bone health.

For example, it improves bone density and lowers the risk of fracture. It also increases IGF-1 and lean mass, both known to promote bone health (4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

The whole protein-osteoporosis thing is a myth with literally zero evidence to back it up. This is one example of where blindly following conventional nutritional wisdom leads to the exact opposite result of what you expected.

Bottom Line: Despite a high protein intake increasing calcium excretion in the short term, long term studies show a strong positive effect on bone health.

The Myth About Protein and Kidney Damage

Grilled Steak

The kidneys are a remarkable organ that filters unneeded substances and liquids out of the bloodstream, producing urine.

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

Well, I have a newsflash for these people. The kidneys are always under stress. That’s what they’re made for.

About 20% of the blood pumped by the heart goes to the kidneys and they filter a total of 180 liters (48 gallons) of blood, every single day.

Adding some more protein to your diet may increase their workload a little, but it is really insignificant compared to the immense amount of work that they do already.

I looked into the literature and even though there is evidence that high protein causes harm in people with diagnosed kidney disease (9, 10), the same does NOT apply to people with healthy kidneys.

In fact, there are no studies showing harmful effects of protein in people who don’t have kidney disease. Even bodybuilders have healthy kidneys and they tend to eat very large amounts of protein, both from food and supplements (11, 12).

The two main risk factors for kidney failure are high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes. A higher protein intake improves both (13, 14, 15, 16).

So even IF the increased protein has a harmful effect on the kidneys (which there is no evidence of), it appears to be outweighed by the beneficial effects of lowered blood pressure and blood sugar.

Bottom Line: A high protein intake has been shown to accelerate kidney damage in people who have kidney disease. However, higher protein diets don’t adversely affect kidney function in healthy people.

Eating Plenty of Protein is a Good Thing

I’d like to point out that there are many benefits to eating more (not less) protein.

Healthy Foods

  • Muscle mass: Adequate protein has a positive effect on muscle mass and is crucial to prevent muscle loss on a calorie restricted diet (17, 18, 19).
  • Energy expenditure: Studies show that protein increases energy expenditure the most out of all the macronutrients (20, 21).
  • Satiety: Protein is very satiating and increasing protein can lead to a decreased calorie intake and weight loss (22).
  • Lower risk of disease: Increased protein intake can be protective against diseases like diabetes and obesity (23, 24).

Overall, higher protein is a good thing and the amounts commonly recommended by the health authorities are too low!

Bottom Line: There are many benefits to a high protein intake, such as weight loss, increased lean mass and a lower risk of diseases like diabetes and obesity.

How Much Protein is Too Much?

Man Sticking Knife Through Meat

The body is in a constant state of flux, constantly breaking down and rebuilding its own tissues.

Under certain circumstances, our need for protein can increase. This includes periods of sickness or increased physical activity.

We need to consume enough protein for these processes to occur.

However, if we eat more than we need, the excess protein will be broken down and used for energy.

Even though a relatively high protein intake is healthy and safe, eating massive amounts of protein is unnatural and may cause harm. Traditional populations got most of their calories from fat or carbs, not protein.

Although I don’t know of any study that demonstrates exactly when it becomes harmful, I’d say that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 grams per kg) or 30-40% of calories should be safe, but going beyond that is uncharted territory.

I personally eat about 100-150 grams of protein per day, but on workout days I eat about 200 grams because I like to have some whey protein right after my workouts.

Keep in mind that athletes need more protein than sedentary individuals, especially strength athletes or bodybuilders.

Take Home Message

In my opinion, the idea that protein is harmful to humans is one of the more ridiculous myths out there.

Our species evolved as meat eaters, not to mention the fact that we’re literally made of meat.

How could something we’re made of be bad for us? It just doesn’t make sense.

At the end of the day, there is no evidence that a high protein intake causes harm and plenty of evidence showing benefits. If you have healthy kidneys, then it’s probably best to err on the side of a higher protein intake, rather than lower.

For the majority of people, there is no reason to be concerned about the exact number of grams of protein in the diet.

If you eat healthy, unprocessed animal foods every day, then your protein intake should automatically land in a safe and healthy range.

93 Comments

  1. ProudDaddy says:

    I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, but I worry about evidence that while making you more healthy, protein, like HGH, decreases your lifespan. Paul Jaminet, not exactly a vegan, is of this opinion, but I wasn’t impressed by his references. What have you found?

  2. Very true. I recently did my own research and came up with the same results. Since then I have significantly increased my protein intake and have noticed huge benefits to my health. I have better satiation levels, so eat less between meals, my blood sugars feel generally more balanced, I’m sure it’s improved any insulin issues I had and I have noticeably increased lean muscle mass and a generally better body shape. Chris will be alarmed to read that I am not a big fan of red meat or whey protein, I use pea or hemp protein, but this had clearly worked for me.

    • This Dr. Gerber sure should teach a course about cherry picking and making weak data seem like a big deal. I’m in awe of his skills in this department.

    • No Darren, you’re wrong. Please tell me who funds NutritionalFacts.org so I know their true agenda. Keep buying into the lies of our government; that’s what Dr. Gerber is there for- to be an instrument for them to sell you these lies.

      • Lauren, yet you trust a medical student who runs this site?

        NutritionFacts.org is a 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization brought to you by the Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation in partnership with Michael Greger, M.D. The goal of this website is to present you with the results of the latest in nutrition and health research, presented in a way that is easy to understand.

        Dr. Greger is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. Currently he serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

        • No matter what his credentials are, he is still wrong. For every doctor preaching a vegan diet, you will find many more doctors that disagree.

          Appeal to authority is meaningless here, it is the science that counts.

          • Who appealed to authority? Lauren asked for credentials and funding info… claiming some government conspiracy…

          • HSUS is a KNOWN animal rights activist group aimed at ending animal agriculture; a group so depraved that it illegedly burned down 14 cattle trailers. 90% of their funding goes towards lobbying government, less than 5% goes towards improving the ethical treaemt of animals or animal shelters…

          • Todd Bartimole says:

            Kris, I think it’s interesting that you say it’s science that counts, not authority. Well where does authority come from? This is a complicated issue, which you are trying to make simple by ignoring some studies (authority) and highlighting others. This is exactly what you accuse others of doing.

            I came upon this site by trying to figure out the truth, however I don’t think you can just simply say “more protein is better” because I think it’s much more complicated than that. Some here have raised good questions which you ignore, which makes me question your knowledge.

            Thank you for speaking to the issue and speaking your opinion about it. I will be reading more about the issue of too much protein and its effect on calcium and other problems to make up my own mind.

        • Diana, oh no not cattle trailers! Ending animal agriculture? You mean killing ten billion of our fellow Earthlings every year? What a sick depraved idea!

          Think of what animal agriculture has given us?! Swine flu, possible epidemic bird flu, a thousand infectious diseases, and environmental pollution and destruction…

          I’m no vegan, but factory farms are no way to promote health for any of Earth’s inhabitants.

          • Darren, I really do not have a dog in this hunt but I can speak from my clinical experience regarding nutrition. We see a significant improvement in overall health with the paleo or real food diet. No processed foods. I have also seen some significant problems in vegan clients.

            There is no doubt that Dr. Greger has a bias, everyone with an opinion does. His is not so hidden and it’s never a problem to find a scientific study to support just about any opinion you want to put out there. I have experimented with about every type of diet in my client population over the years and have found that real unprocessed foods is what works for everyone.

            I agree with you that it is an absolute must to stay away from the feedlot meats and eat only grass-fed/free range, hormone and antibiotic free, and non-GMO fed animals. I have also found that many are unduly awed by the credentials of “experts.” I find few experts that really have the grasp on nutritional knowledge of some without the credentials.

            Kris seems to grasp nutrition better than most and it is not that I always agree with what he says but I do listen and apply knowledge, experience, and common sense to all that I read.

          • I guess you’d be happier if we all starved to death while you stay on your broccoli farm and waste your life trying to save the planet. Eat and let eat!

  3. Whenever I read about the supposed connection between protein intake and kidney damage, it makes me wonder if this belief sprung into being, at least partially, from misunderstanding the real mechanisms behind conditions like rhabdomyolysis.

  4. I’d love a follow-up to this post that considers varying benefits between different TYPES of protein.

    For example, I read some cautions recently about consuming dairy proteins, in particular cheese.

  5. Joe Pradetto says:

    Thank you for your work, Kris. I am a new reader and have enjoyed reading your articles and reviewing references.

    Can you discuss–or point to previous discussions–about the accusation that consuming 20% or more of your protein from animal sources increases your likelihood of developing cancer?

    • Looks like vegan propaganda to me.

      • Well Kris I have to agree with you. Without looking at any of this data. Lets just look at common sense. Body Builders. They are big very lean meaning no fat. All have high protein diets. When they cut or diet down to contest weight they cut back on their carbs and increase their protein. Fat melts away. While carbs are essential as other nutrients.

        Muscles can not grow with out protein or water for that matter. The two go hand in hand. The idea as I understand it is this. Protein is food for our muscles while carbs are our source of energy. To little protein causes our muscles to turn on themselves, cannibalizing if you will. This causes you to lose lean muscle mass which in return causes your daily caloric needs to go down.

        When you continue to eat the same calories, the carbs (not protein) are stored as fat resulting in health issues. Protein itself does not cause disease. Being obese causes disease and causes your organs not to function correctly because the body is attempting to get rid of all the toxic waste you have put into it.

        Becoming obese is not from protein, it is from carbs plain and simple. While high protein diets usually come with cholesterol any smart person will keep an eye on it. If we feed our muscles the protein it needs the body can use what is in our fat stores as energy. With that being said I do believe there has to be a balance when maintaining a physique.

        However if you are going to try and lose the fat, a high protein, low carb, low calorie diet is the way to go. To maintain a physique. You must know your protein needs as well as your carbohydrate needs. Vegans can keep their lifestyle but even vegan body builders consume high amounts of protein to stay big. That’s my two cents. Good article, Kris.

        • Carbs are actually not essential at all, you could eat 0 carbs and live off of protein and fat and you would survive quite healthily.

          • That is not true, your body requires carbs for the complete breakdown of fats into ATP. Without carbs to fuel this process, you are left with ketones, which can lead to ketosis and can cause an PH imbalance in your system that can lead to all kinds of problems.

            Sure you can survive without carbs but without them you will get improper break down of fats, which can lead to loss of lean muscle mass. Not exactly what most people are looking for.

          • Don’t forget that there are carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables, even green leafy veg. Therefore, a zero carb diet would lead to vitamin, mineral and fibre deficiency which would ultimately lead to painful illness and, eventually, death.

  6. Fantastic article Kris.

    I’m glad you mentioned the “above 1g/lb” thing – because as a guy who works out myself I was concerned about eating 180g of protein a day.

    Recently I spoke with a doctor (potential conflict of interest: he’s also a weightlifter) who mentioned that 1g protein is absolutely fine.

    Any ideas on the absorption of protein shakes?

    Cheers
    Alex

    • Having a Doc who also lifts weights is not a conflict of interest. All it means is he might actually know what he’s talking about in matters concerning nutrition.

      It’s a bit discerning, to say the least, to take nutrition advice from overweight and out of shape professionals. My Aunt has been a diet technician all of her life — and obese and out of shape all of her life. None of the family take her too seriously when she talks about nutrition.

    • Protein shakes are fine and whey is best IMO. Of course, you’re not going to be using all that protein to build muscle though – any excess that you consume will be used for energy.

  7. Mary Buetow says:

    What about gluconeogenisis? I am insulin resistant and have read many times that I should control protein.

    • If you’re on a low-carb ketogenic diet, too much protein can hinder ketosis due to it being turned into glucose.

      In that case, you may want to control protein, but this only applies if you’re on a low-carb ketogenic diet.

  8. Thanks, good points.

    I hate it when “they” claim too much protein is bad. You and I know it’s the contrary.

    • Another PhD says:

      Too much of anything is bad for you by definition; that’s what makes it too much. The better question is what qualifies a quantity as too much. Water is great for you. Too much water is not (see hyponatremia).

  9. Have you considered the fact that people who usually eat high levels of protein also tend to do alot of weight bearing activity. There for the studies showing the high protein increase bone density – could actually be due to the weight bearing activities that these populations might be doing?

    Did any studies look at increase in protein without exercise?

    • These types of studies usually control for confounding factors like exercise, but you can never be sure.

      It is definitely possible that the increased weight bearing exercise has something to do with it, but I personally think that the benefits are also caused by the protein. Bones also have protein in them.

      • I would just like to point out that an obese person on a low calorie high protein diet is always lifting weights. Fat weighs so just by walking across the room they burn more calories than a normal person. When protein is taken in proper amounts (everyone is different of course) this can cause thermogenesis which causes fat loss not to mention the physical exertion of exercise.

        If the muscles are hydrated and properly fed the energy comes from either carbs or fat cells. Carbs or stored fat is used as energy for you to move that muscle as the muscle moves it must replenish itself if there is no protein source the. The muscles cannibalize themselves causing you lose lean muscle mass.

        Then when you are weighing, you see you are losing weight but your fat mass is still there. You give up and start eating the way you normally have, now your body uses less calories because fat doesn’t use energy and you get fatter, vicious cycle and the medical world ignores body building science. Crazy.

      • Tord Steiro says:

        Well moves before, you have to do quite hefty moves before they have much impact on bone development. Check the references here:

        http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/07/why-high-impact-exercise-is-good-for-your-bones/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

  10. Ashleigh says:

    I have been thinking about this – I weigh 65kg, I work out twice a day (weights and cardio, HIIT as well) but I eat sometimes 200-250 grams protein a day. I just really like meat. Is this bad? Is this giving me headaches and making me really thirsty? Should I eat less meat and more broccoli perhaps?

    • That’s an unnecessarily high protein intake, you should probably eat some more fat (or carbs – depending on your goals) instead.

      I don’t know about the headaches or thirst though, you should speak to a doctor about those.

  11. “Our species evolved as meat eaters, not to mention the fact that we’re literally made of meat.

    How could something we’re made of be bad for us? It just doesn’t make sense.”

    Great reasoning. Because cows and sheep are made of plants.

  12. Kris,
    I enjoy learning from your posts and share them regularly. I am a physician that runs a wellness practice and I routinely recommend 1 to 1.5 gms of protein per lb of lean body weight. I have researched the data extensively and find no significant negative impact on kidney function when the kidneys are healthy to begin with.

    I do follow my clients blood work every 3-6 months and I have seen creatinine elevations that used to freak me out but creatinine will become elevated in people that have low insulin, low body fat, and high protein intake but in this population it does not reflect kidney disfunction. There is a test which can be done to determine if creatinine elevation is secondary to this or to true renal dysfunction, it is called Cystatin C. I have run it a few times in order to prove to insurance companies or other physicians that the clients renal function is normal.

  13. Someone please tell me who Kris Gunnars is and why we should listen to him. My question means nothing against him; I simply like to know a person’s bio before I believe what they have to say.

  14. Wow! This article is scary wrong on so many levels. Just take a look at this one line – “animal proteins are better than plant proteins” Gunnars is completely wrong and this line alone shows his lack of understanding proteins. Look up “The Dangerous Truth About Protein” – Janice Stanger, Ph.D. and you’ll have the right info. So many people are reversing their illnesses, diseases, & getting rid of their meds by giving up meat and all the processed/preservative foods that are made from meat products. They also lose weight, feel healthier, have more energy, and so much more good stuff that you have to experience for yourself.

    Don’t be fooled by this article. I’m a vegan and reversed my health condition by doing so. I can even do chin-ups where I couldn’t before because of crippling arthritis. I can even jog again where I couldn’t walk a couple years ago and I got rid of all 3 horrible meds I used to take regularly. Read from real ppl on vegetarian and especially vegan diets (vegan is def better as I was a vegetarian for a very long time and still nothing compares to the health benefits of being vegan).

    Learn learn learn about how to do it right though and seek support through groups. What have you got to lose by taking the challenge for 30 days? Nothing! btw: In the first 14 days I felt a change in my health and at 40 days there was a significant shift and that has maintained ever since; in fact, that was when I did my first pullup in over 10 years and today I’m up to 15 (3 reps of 5) 3 months later. There are also ethical and environmental reasons to go vegan too so look them up and don’t be caught looking dumb by following or repeating this inaccurate information. Peace!

    • Great article. I think the vegans missed the point “The best sources of protein in the diet contain all the essential amino acids in ratios that are appropriate for humans” when referring to “In this regard, animal proteins are better than plant proteins.” Sure, there are plenty of plant based food sources loaded with proteins and essential amino acids (lentils for example), but many plant based proteins are incomplete and in order to get the complete package, without having to spare the time to cook several different food sources at once, real meat is the way to go provided it’s not in excess (and avoiding feedlot hormone/steroid injected meat is also a plus, but expensive).

      At 195 lbs, I spend approximately 1.25hrs/day 5 days/week in the gym. I’m consuming between 220 and 290 g of protein per day from a variety of sources as well as consuming approximately 1 gal of water/day (I naturally sweat a lot). Is there any relation between excess protein, water and loose bowel movements?

  15. I used to believe in vegan diets but I think for certain types of people it is actually unhealthy. I used to work in a plant that manufactures bread and buns. The amount of labor work for that job is extremely high, in fact, there was 120 percent turnover after two years of working there.

    The application requirements should have been can you work hard all the time, not a math skills exam. To increase my energy I switched to a vegan diet, thinking this will work better. It didn’t. I was on it for a year and lost too much weight.

    I’m 6 feet tall and dropped down to 170 lb and b/c of the constrain on my legs I really couldn’t run properly. That was when I was 27, now fast forward, today at 47. I still have a hard labour job climbing stairs and reconditioning apartments. I think, I carry tools, and supplies up and down around 30 000 flight of stairs a year.

    It was so busy last winter, that I didn’t have any energy to shovel my walk, and we had a Snowmageddon that year. So back to dieting, and so on. Nothing worked. Until I decided to try protein powder. I mean I’m not weightlifting or anything but why not. That changed everything.

    I take whey powder 3 times a day and only now can I work harder at my job. I go home and lift weights everyday during the week and go jogging. It’s like night and day. So here I am reading about the best amount of protein to consume. And I find your article exactly the kind of information I wanted to know. Thank you.

  16. I found this post very interesting and was happy to read all the different view points. I am insulin resistant and I am trying very hard to reverse this.

    I am currently on a low calorie, low carb diet. My protein intake is currently 95 grams, I weigh 180 lbs so I am overweight but absolutely struggled to lose weight till I increased protein and lowered carbs.

    I suffer from very severe IBS so a vegetarian or vegan diet would definitely not work for me, I would be in agony. Thank you for the info Kris as I feel better about my protein intake and I have to say the difference since increasing it is great, I have more energy and I am actually losing weight now, my IBS has improved significantly and I have a lot more energy now than I have had in a long time so thank you Kris.

    I also go to the gym but no matter how hard I worked out my weight would not drop until I increased the protein and lowered the carbs.

  17. Sept. 8, 2013 Anyone here of Patrik Baboumian?
    http://www.examiner.com/article/vegan-power-yells-plant-based-diet-bodybuilder-as-he-breaks-world-record

    I’ll move on to other points. I’ve had no issues building my body stronger and in faster time through plants. I even feel tons healthier and have more energy. Plant-based diets also help a significant amount of ppl with IBS so one has to know how to do it properly (no junk, no sugars, no processed, no meat/dairy).

    http://dontfearthevegan.com/2013/03/06/vegans-say-what-irritable-bowel-syndrome/

    Now lets move on to how you’re killing our planet and letting children starve to death. Yep, face the facts.

    It takes more than 2000 gallons of water to produce 1lbs of meat where it takes rice only 403 gallons. Any country you know that lived mainly on rice and lived long lives until they adopted the S.A.D.? So you waste all that grain on animals for what? Less nutrients and less food while children are dying. Thanks for not caring about the starving children because you need meat.

    http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/from-lettuce-to-beef-whats-the-water-footprint-of-your-food.html

    I’ve asked every nutritionist I know to explain what the magical substance is in meat that is needed that isn’t provided by plants. None of them could answer. The only thing you have to supplement is B-12 and that can be vegan as well. Many nutritionists aren’t even fully informed I’m sorry to say. U.S. doctors get 25 hours or less of nutrition studies. Most doctors just push easy big pharma pills on you when you don’t need them.

    What about the pollution that comes from CAFO’s? Have you check into how you’re killing the planet? How much cattle crap contributes to our pollution? Check this link and stop contributing to the death of our planet please.

    http://michigan.sierraclub.org/issues/greatlakes/articles/cafofacts.html

    So this article is still wrong for many reasons including that it doesn’t point out that meat is a pro-inflammatory food and is well known to contribute to cancer. Milk has the same issues. If milk builds a body and bones strong then why are there so many people with arthritis and other illnesses and the figure keeps growing? Why are these people reversing their health conditions and dropping their meds by not eating meat/dairy/preservatives/processed foods/sugar?

    Sure you’ll be fine eating meat and dairy until one day your body says… I’ve had enough. Why don’t you take a hint from the rest of us so you don’t run into these problems with your health and that you also help your environment and the children of today and tomorrow.

    I could go on but why should I have to? Evolve!

    • Why do you waste so much of your time and energy? On the surface you appear to be all about efficiency, but underneath you squander your energy and resources in order to try to be heard on a forum that doesn’t want to hear you and has advertently tuned you out because your method of getting your point across is highly ineffective in that instead of fostering and nurturing discussion you impose your views without allowing people to effectively make their own decision to begin with.

      • Hi Miguel,

        That is your belief, not fact, that I’m not here to foster discussion. In fact just the opposite. I would perfectly accept if someone were to debunk what I’ve said. But the article is plain wrong and I point out the errors with facts. I also went on to point out specific ethical considerations which I believe are important to the overall equation.

        For instance, if you are like the average American that eats 96 lbs of meat per year then you are wasting 230,000 gallons of water. Fact. The other points I’ve made are also important to ethical considerations. Aren’t we supposed to be a kind and thoughtful people? Watch Earthlings and see if you feel that we couldn’t do better.

        You came here to learn about proteins. What about the planet you’re on I ask? What are you doing for that while you work on your perfect self? If that comes at the expense of our environment how can that be a positive experience? Sure will be fun when you are looking awesome all while pollution is clouding the sky and water because of the decisions you made along that path.

        So you’re put off by my frank discussion is what this comes down to. Sure, blame me for closing yourself off to reason and an intelligent discussion. Its the perfect escape. On the other side I’m going to make an assumption that you’ve never thought about the things I’ve discussed and at this point you can choose to read further by educating yourself on all the aspects rather than just 1. Did you even know meat is a pro-inflammatory? If not then I’ve helped you know something.

        I’m 48 – 5’10 153lbs 17 bmi. I work out for no more than 40 minutes 4 days a week, sometimes 5. My workout consists of 200 push ups, 30 pull ups, 1.5 mile jog, Little ab work here and there. I’m fit, all plant-based/vegan and stronger/healthier/ more ethically aligned with helping our planet. Don’t do protein shakes. Only thing I take is B-12 and its in vegan form too.

        I’m all about informed choices. Best of luck to you on your health and decisions; you make your own aside from what anyone says. Peace!

        • Well John, Based on your slightly over the top concern for the overall health and well being of the planet, I will assume you don’t own a car, buy any products made in factories or products that are shipped using planes, boats, semi trucks or trains. I don’t know how you are typing these responses unless it’s on a computer or laptop made in a factory in China, shipped across the world on a plane or boat and shipped to your door or local walmart.

          I don’t know if you know this, but every step in that process causes huge amounts of pollution. So unless you live in the woods and only eat local vegetation, you are just as guilty as the rest of us. By the way, I drink 3 protein shakes, eat 15 oz of ribeye and half a block of cheese every day.

  18. Betty in NOLA says:

    I think the damage to the kidneys thing was witnessed in professional weight lifters and body builders. It involved really huge amounts of protein, like 200 grams a day. But the conclusion that the protein was causing the problems is shaky since these people did other extreme things including excessive supplements and sometimes steroid abuse. The problem was real, the assumption about the cause was not well supported.

  19. Thank you for clearing some things up for me about protein. I am trying to increase my protein intake. I am vegan though and will not change that because I cannot accept the horrors of factory farming. Can you tell me which plant foods are the best since I cannot eat meat… or types of shakes?

    • Hi Tiffany. As a vegan you will find it difficult to get adequate protein into your diet naturally. Vegan foods that are good sources of protein include Quinoa, Seeds (especially Hemp seeds because they have a complete Amino Acid profile), Edamame beans and fermented soy products

      It’s also worth noting that raw plant foods often have a good level of Amino Acids, for instance a single serving of broccoli (about 150g) contains more protein than a single serving of nuts (25g). When examining protein contents of food note that it’s usually measured in 100g servings and not many people would consume 100g of nuts in a single serving whereas a serving of broccoli would be feasibly much bigger.

      As for protein supplements, you would need a plant based protein powder and have a shake with your meals or make a smoothie for breakfast and pre or post workout, in addition to your normal meals. Sun Warrior does a good vegan protein but it’s dear. You can buy pea or hemp protein powders which are very good but usually come unflavoured, which is good in as far as they are purer in content and mix well with smoothies but not so convenient if you need a quick shake while on the go. I have some smoothie recipes on my website: http://www.tmfitness.co.uk

      • Why doesn’t anyone respect that vegans do have all the sources of protein they need? Even more important is why can’t “personal trainers” have an appropriate set of answers for the various clients they may have. Tiffany asked for vegan options and what did you do? Disrespect her wishes.

        Really shows how little respect some people have in understanding what it means to be vegan. It is a lifestyle choice, not specifically a diet. Vegan: All the flavor, no victims.

        Has anyone even see the people on this page? They are incredible. Anyone seen Frank Medrano? He could best every single one of us in a competition. Patrik Baboumian? World Record confirmed today.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganBodybuildingAndFitness

        Black beans + quinoa = awesome protein intake!
        Peace to all!

        • Hi Sunitha.

          Tiffany asked a question and I offered some answers. I don’t believe I was disrespectful in the slightest. Black beans and Quinoa may well be a good protein meal and sounds like a really nice combination but, depending on one’s fitness goals the level of protein required to maintain lean mass and burn fat is pretty high. I eat a balanced diet with plenty of raw vegetables and plenty of animal protein sources and I still need to supplement with protein shakes to get the amount of protein I need.

          If a strict vegan diet works for you, and there are plenty of people who THRIVE (deliberate reference) on it, then great, it’s also worth noting that vegan meals are extremely high in antioxidants and micronutrients and, I always recommend people to try vegan cuisine for this reason. I don’t see why even the most staunch meat eaters can’t combine some vegan food with their diets but, obviously, strict vegans can’t combine meat with theirs and so they are missing out on many essential elements of the food chain that we, as human beings, evolved with.

          It can work and it clearly works for you, but why fight evolution? I tried a raw vegan diet for a while because I wanted to experience it first hand and it was fine, I did miss cooked food and it did mean that I had to put a lot more work into planning and preparing meals in advance but I noticed some tremendous health benefits, my blood pressure reduced, my RHR reduced, my stress levels reduced and I felt more chilled out but my lean mass also reduced and I felt weaker, despite consuming high protein smoothies, plenty of seed and nut combinations and cruciferous vegetables. Obviously we’re not talking exclusively about raw cuisine here but I found those results interesting. Thanks for the link by the way.

  20. Kurt R Yochum says:

    I’m consuming what I consider to be a LOT of protein, but I am very new to this game. I’ve been a cardio guy (state runner, etc) and always been in decent shape but within the last month or so, I have decided to turn to building muscle rather than being lean.

    I am 5’9.5″, 162lb, 19% body fat (high carb diet my whole life, but still lean) exercise vigorously 5-10 hours/week with an added 2-3 hours/week of good cardio (cut back from 8-12 hours/week of cardio so I can avoid burning so many calories).

    Right now, I consume about 110-250 grams of protein a day. 100-175g of carbs, 80-120g fat. I have been exercising very heavily on the complex muscle/large muscles (deadlifts, squats, chest, core).

    My high protein comes from my diet of Chicken, veggies, eggs, peanut butter, peanuts, cottage cheese, oatmeal, and 100% pure clean hydrolyzed protein (110 cal; 1g fat, >1g carb, 25g protein). I drink the protein 2-3 times a day which is a big 50-75g protein. Is my diet/protein healthy, harmful, ok, or unsure? I’m looking to be 175-180lbs with >10% body fat as quickly and safely as possible.

    Most the protein advice hasn’t mentioned anything even close to my possible 200+ g/day.

    • Kurt R Yochum says:

      Also, I am 23 years old with a much higher metabolism than the “norm” and overactive thyroid.

      • You should be aiming for around 2-3 grams of protein per kg bodyweight. Eat protein and fats at every meal, tons of vegetables and get most of your carbs post workout. Consider low carb on non training days and plenty of water. It very much depends on your body type and metabolism so experiment and find what works best for you.

        Also, forget the whole 6 meals a day myth. 4 meals and a post workout shake should be plenty, you won’t go catabolic if you miss a meal either so long as your meals are nutrient dense.

        • Kurt R Yochum says:

          Thanks Troy,

          I am lifting heavy 3-4 days a week, and on my “rest days” I am doing very light cardio, glamor muscles like biceps, triceps or something isolated and simple, and am getting ready to do yoga 2-3 days a week. I have never been able to do the 6 meals a day… just stresses me out! I’ve researched it really makes no difference at all as far as “boosting metabolism” by eating more often and overall, the daily caloric intake is all that matters.

          Right now, I’m eating a solid 3 meals and decent “snacks” between that are kind of half meals anyways. I need to get a little more calories going though… I have been way under my ideal amount set by a trainer because of the clean, high protein/low carb/low fat. It’s a bitch!! BUT, I feel so much better already and have crazy energy/wake up early and am just motivated to move around!

          Thanks again for the advice! I also read all of your other responses, as well as all the comments on this page. Very good information!

          • Hey Kurt

            Glad to be of some help, it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things and by the sounds of it everything is going well in terms of energy so maybe you’ve already found a decent balance. With regards to the training, adding too much cardio on top of weights while trying to lean up might have the opposite effect due to hormone response under physical stress.

            You obviously want to keep your aerobic conditioning up but if you’re doing weights and CV and yoga and not having any rest days in between your body won’t adapt to the exercise and will start to run on cortisol and adrenalin which will then lead to fat storage. I’m not saying don’t do it and you probably know your own fitness levels quite well by now, just keep an eye on things. Good luck.

    • No evidence that I’m aware of that this amount of protein would cause harm. I personally wouldn’t be concerned about it.

      • Kurt R Yochum says:

        Thank you Kris!

        With all the legitimate research etc. I’ve been able to find, I haven’t seen any real concerns either except more energy since I am not getting the extra protein from other sources with bad things as well (burgers, etc) and it is all clean and pure.

        What I have noticed for about 2 days now is my stool is lacking solidity. I have read that it is likely due to my low carb giving me a deficit in Fiber which is used to absorb liquid in my digestion. Any advice to keep my carbs down and still get some good fiber? I heard apples are a good way.

        Thanks!

  21. The length body builders will go to justify their nonsense is just stunning. This has nothing to do with vegan or vegetarian agendas. Long term studies time and time again have been done to show that 100-150 grams of protein is really dangerous over the course of a life. Not in a 9 week study (lol really, 9 weeks?) but overall.

    You also mistake weight lifting and muscle mass increases with health. What’s healthy is cardio exercise and a low resting heart rate. Being overweight because of a muscular body isn’t healthy long term at all. You’re fit and you have energy because you’ve cut off fat, but studies have shown that extra muscle mass requires heart to work extra hard to provide nutrition to muscles.

    Doctors don’t encourage weight lifting, nor high protein diets. Ever! The only community that suggests this nonsense are weight lifters themselves and nutritionists which look at short term changes in people’s body composition as what is or isn’t healthy.

    This article, and your refusal to accept the most basic scientific accepted research is a joke and an attempt to rationalize and justify your own life decisions.

  22. Also, it’s obvious that meat isn’t necessary. If it was, vegetarians would all die off. Water is necessary, 50-70 grams of protein are necessary, fruits and vegetables are necessary, and some fat is necessary. But meat as a food group isn’t necessary for survival, or health, or longevity.

    So there isn’t some vegetarian agenda conspiracy you keep pointing to. It’s just basic science. The problem that doctors have with vegetarians is that vegetarians often times don’t eat well balanced diets, not because they NEED meat, but because they haven’t found consistent and adequately portioned substitutes and eat an undisciplined diet. This doesn’t mean meat is necessary, it means meat is easily accessible and a convenient way to get proteins.

    But again, vegetarians live as long (and some studies suggest) longer than meat eaters so meat isn’t a necessary component of good nutrition.

  23. Meat is a necessary part of a well balanced diet. It is a good idea to eat it in small portions and to fill up on veggies and fruit. What is not necessary is for anyone to worry about what other people eat or try to convince us to become vegetarian. And remember, just because they call it a cauliflower steak doesn’t make it a steak. I’m just glad I live in a free country with plenty to eat.

    • Roy,
      Just because you were brainwashed with the thought that meat is “necessary” doesn’t make it correct. I’m also glad you live in a free country where you can eat and speak what you want and nobody is forcing you to do otherwise. However, you are flat wrong that meat is necessary. You can’t point to one magical substance in meat that’s needed by the body that can’t be provided by a whole foods plant based diet.

      Check out Mac Danzig who is a raw vegan and MMA fighter (that’s right, MMA Fighter who’s a raw vegan) and again try to tell everyone how “meat” is necessary. Then Patrik Baboumian, vegan sports athlete of the year 2013. Then type “98 year old vegan” in youtube and listen to Dr. Ellsworth Wareham who worked as a surgeon until age 95 and again tell us that meat is necessary.

      Then look up Donald Watson who coined the term vegan and lived to age 95 without having to see a doctor until his final days. Saying “meat is necessary” is as valid as saying the Earth is flat.

      John – Raw Vegan.

  24. So we’re on that flat earth thing again. Wow so well informed, can’t tell you nothing. Well check out my grandmother Marylee who lives to be a hundred and three. She ate a small portion of meat with all her meals until she got tricked by the oh so well informed into eating cereal every morning.

    One of her favorite expressions was “mind your own business” – I know it’s extra hard for ex smokers and ex meat eaters to do, but trust me it works. You can eat your veggies until the cows come home.

    I don’t give a hoot about your lifestyle or your opinion. You can’t save the animals or the planet, but you can waste the rest of your life worrying and trying. No hate, just don’t want to be like you. Flat earth, ha ha.

  25. The problem with some vegans is that they confuse lifestyle with religion, and think they have to save animals, people and planets. Stop playing God. If I ate a raw vegan diet I would have real bad smelling flatulence, and I bet you do too. Because what they’re not telling you is how many digestion problems raw vegetables cause the average person.

    That’s why sulfur rich foods like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and yes my beloved cauliflower can keep you up all night with bloating and gas. That’s the environment I wish to avoid and my children and grandchildren all have enough good sense to appreciate that!

  26. Meat is very necessary if I choose to consume it. The only magical foods I know of are magic brownies and magical mushrooms and I know you don’t want that. I will not ever let you make me feel guilty or spend the rest of my life eating flatulence causing raw vegetables. I will continue to eat lots of meat, cheese and eggs, drink organic milk and use a ton of electricity.

    • Like I said in the article, it can be useful for people who already have kidney problems to cut back on protein, but it has no effect on healthy people. This study confirms that.

  27. Please help, I’m confused.

    I worked out that if I eat 2.2g protein per kg of body weight (74kg), it comes to 160 grams?. That doesn’t seem much at all. I think I’d eat that at breakfast and lunch. I mostly eat eggs, an omelet or bacon and eggs for breakfast, salad and roughly 100g meat/fish/poultry for lunch then meat/fish/poultry and veggies for dinner. Plus I might snack on some more protein (egg or meat) I generally eat 100g protein each meal and approximately 50g snacks.

    Am I eating too much?

    • Hey Wendy.

      Some people talk about protein grams as grams of meat, fish or eggs. But I’m referring to actual protein, not grams of a protein containing food.

      Animal foods are somewhere around 20% protein, give or take. So a 100 gram piece of meat may contain about 20 grams of actual protein.

      So no, doesn’t sound like you’re eating too much at all.

    • Hi Wendy. Like Kris said, it doesn’t sound like you’re eating too much, it’s important to stay in touch with the signals your body gives you so if it feels good, your energy levels are ok, your digestion is ok and you’re maintaining consistent body composition then stick with it.

      Just make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables, most people think a high protein diet is meat, meat and more meat and neglect the need for nutrient density in their meals. The extra fibre will help assimilate the protein more effectively as well.

  28. Hi Troy.

    Thanks for the reply.

    I’m eating plenty of veggies thanks. I’m actually pretty proud of myself as I haven’t eaten any crap for a few weeks now. I’ve replaced it with vegetables. I am learning off this site and following the LCHF way.

  29. I think a lot of people on both sides of the protein “battlefield” are forgetting one very important thing: EVERONE IS DIFFERENT. Some people will be perfectly suited to a high-protein diet (1 gram per pound) whereas others will be fine with with less. Genetics also plays a huge factor in your ability to deal with a certain diet; so will your current health status. The whole “protein is as bad as smoking” scare-tactic is ridiculous, as is the “veggie proteins are better than meat proteins” malarky.

    I am a veterinarian by trade. Part of our work is formulating diets for herbivores, omnivores, and obligate carnivores. And even within those groups, you know what we do? We do bloodwork, look at organ enzymatic and hormonal levels, and adjust as needs be. It is all about balance; too little PGF-1 is just as bad as too much. Too little or too much of ANYTHING is bad.

    If you are concerned about whether or not a diet is right for you, GO TO A DOCTOR. Get bloods taken. Look at your cell counts, enzyme levels, hormone levels. If they are worrying, change your diet until it suits YOU. I personally got ill on a well-balanced vegan diet when I tried it for 6 months, but thrive on eating around 165 grams of protein a day sourced primarily from fish, chicken, and whey protein, but I do regular cardio and moderate weight lifting as well. Other associates of mine are completely the opposite.

    Adjust your diet to suit YOU.

  30. I’m trying to lose weight and gain a healthier lifestyle. I have been looking into meal plans and have decided that low calorie, high protein is the best way to go. I have read a lot of recipes that just add whey protein powder. I plan on getting a lot of protein from meat but I was also curious about your view on protein powder.

    Is whey the best? Is protein powder bad? Is it as effective as protein from meat? I guess what I’m thinking is, I eat lean meat whatever meals I can and then add protein powder to the rest of my meals. That would accelerate weight loss right? Please give me some advice this is all so new to me.

    • Hi Lindsey. You don’t need to supplement with protein powders if you are eating a fair sized of protein with each meal. Eggs or greek yoghurt and nuts for breakfast, lean meat or fish salad for lunch and then a meat and veg dinner, for instance should be fine.

      Nuts, seeds and pulses also contain protein and healthy fats and if you bulk your meals out with plenty of vegetables for extra fibre and nutrient density you will feel satiated and maintain digestive health also.

  31. My current diet consists of chicken, eggs, soy milk, edamame, yogurt, cinnamon, peanut butter, orange juice, crushed pineapple, a couple of protein shakes, a pre workout shake and a vegetable shake.

    Im 200 pounds eat a little over 200 grams of protein close to 2k in calories and around 140 carbs… I also work work out an hour every other day and just run on non lift days drinking 1 gallon of water a day.

    So far I have not noticed any negative signs, should I lower my protein intake?

If you made it all the way down here, you probably liked the article. Please share it:

Speak Your Mind

*