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Are Protein Shakes Bad For Kidneys

Does Too Much Whey Protein Cause Side Effects

Optimum Nutrition (ON) Performance Whey Protein Powder Review,Gold Standard Whey Vs Performance Whey

Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements on the planet.

But despite its many health benefits, theres some controversy surrounding its safety.

Some claim that too much whey protein can damage the kidneys and liver and even cause osteoporosis.

This article provides an evidence-based review of whey proteins safety and side effects.

A High Protein Diet For 1 Year Does Not Have Any Adverse Effect On The Kidney Whey Supplements Do Not Cause Any Harm To The Kidney

In a study performed by Jose Antonio titled A High Protein Diet Has No Harmful Effects: A One-Year Crossover Study in Resistance-Trained Males . Dr. Jose Antonio found no adverse effect of prolonged consumption of protein on kidneys.

This research carries a special significance since this is one of the longest studies performed. In this study subjects consumed about 3 grams of protein/ kg of body weight/ day. Also, the study was performed on subjects who had experience in resistance training. During the study, all subjects underwent resistance exercises.

This study relates to most of the bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts who are consuming protein supplements as a part of their diet.

14 healthy subjects underwent the study. The subjects consumed their normal diet for 6 months and high protein diet for 6 months. For both diets subjects consumed 2.51 and 3.32 grams of protein /kg of body weight/ day respectively.

Subjects used whey protein to fulfill the higher protein requirements.

Even the normal diet of the subjects contained three times more protein than the normal requirements.

Various tests were performed to indicate blood lipid levels, liver and kidney functions at the end of the study

# indicates > 60 mL/min/1.73m3

The table above shows the values of various kidney function tests after one year of the study.

The values did for the kidney function test did not change much from baseline for both normal and high protein diet.

Understanding The Renal Diet: Protein

The most common question that dietitians hear from patients diagnosed with CKD is “what should I eat?” It can seem confusing when you hear or read different things. Renal diets minimize the amount of waste in the blood and decrease the amount of work the kidneys do. Protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus are the main considerations of a renal diet.Over the next few blog entries I’ll be discussing the general dietary guidelines for CKD to hopefully answer that question.

Kidneys are your bodys filters. When you have CKD you lose the ability to get rid of nitrogenous protein wastes from foods you eat or drink, and it starts to build up in your blood. This is called uremia. Symptoms of uremia are nausea, bad taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, nausea and weakness. If you have CKD stages 1 or 2 eating less protein can slow down the progression of kidney disease. Protein comes from both animal sources like beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish, and dairy and plant sources including beans, legumes and tofu. Protein powder supplements are usually made from whey or soy and are not recommended on a low protein diet. If your tests show you have protein in your urine or high blood urea levels , or both, eating less protein becomes very important. Too much protein can irreversibly damage your kidneys. Protein requirements are determined by your stage of kidney disease, your weight, your urine protein results, whether or not you have diabetes, and your nutritional status.

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An Overview Of Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease is defined as either kidney damage or a decline in renal function as determined by decreased glomerular filtration rate for three or more months . It is estimated that 1 in 9 adults in the United States meet this criteria, while an additional 1 in 9 adults are at increased risk for CKD . In the general population, a decline in renal function is considered an independent risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality . However, the extent to which a mild diminution in renal function influences this risk is not known .

According to the National Kidney Foundation guidelines, CKD is classified into five stages, each of which directly correlates with the severity of the disease . As one progresses from stage 1 to 5 there is a concomitant decline in GFR and thus renal function. The final stage, known as end stage renal disease, represents the most severe manifestation of CKD . This classification system provides a universal standard for application of clinical treatment guidelines.

Whats In Your Protein Powder

Is Drinking Protein Bad For Your Kidneys

When comparing and purchasing sports nutrition powders, consumers should pay close attention to the list of ingredients. Additives, such as caffeine, creatine, and sweeteners, are sometimes in these powders but are not mentioned in advertisements. When consumers are unaware of these additives, they can be especially harmful. For example, consuming several cups of coffee or tea throughout the day in addition to a protein powder that contains caffeine could have unpleasant side effects, including tremors, migraines, and insomnia. Creatine, a popular sports supplement, increases the amount of water in your muscle cells, leading to significant weight gain and putting you at a higher risk for dehydration, stomach pain, and muscle cramping. Creatine can be particularly dangerous for people with kidney or liver disease and has not been studied for safety in children or adolescents under the age of 18. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends a daily added sugar limit of 25 to 36 grams, but some protein powders have as much as 23 grams of added sugar per scoop. Others contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame, which can be harmful in large quantities. For these reasons, consumers need to know exactly what is in their daily protein shakes and how it may affect their health.

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Best Faqs Following Protein Myths Article

Weve decided to do a follow-up article addressing the best questions we received in our comments section and on our social media platforms. We received many great responses from the Protein Myths article that we published not too long ago, and along with these responses, more great questions surfaced that we felt needed more in-depth explanations.

How Can Protein Be Dangerous

Meegan Hefford, a 25-year-old mother-of-two, was found unconscious in her Mandurah apartment south of Perth on June 19. She died in intensive care three days later. The death certificate says she died from a cerebral disorder caused by a rare genetic disorder, Urea Cycle Defect , that affects the kidney’s ability to process protein.

The certificate lists “intake of body-building supplements” as a contributory cause.

A post shared by – MEEGAN HEFFORD – on Mar 27, 2017 at 2:55am PDT

Urea Cycle Defect is very rare – about one in 10,000 people have it in some form, according to Dr Nicholas Shackel, a professor of medicine at University of New South Wales and a liver specialist at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney.

UCD means the kidneys cannot break down all of the ammonia byproduct released from processing protein to get amino acids, which build muscle. In a healthy kidney, the ammonia becomes urea and is passed out of the body as urine. This is important because ammonia is toxic – for example, it’s used in rocket fuel and cleaning products – and too much ammonia in the blood can trigger a coma and lead to death.

Importantly, some people have UCD without knowing. This is because female cases of UCD may only appear when a women is in her twenties, and she may only become aware of it after having a huge protein load – like Christmas lunch, or protein supplements.

Michelle told Hack that Meegan reported feeling sick a week before she collapsed.

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Protein Does Not Cause Osteoporosis

Some people believe that a high protein intake can contribute to osteoporosis.

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

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

A review published in 2017 concluded that increased protein intake does not harm the bones. If anything, the evidence pointed to a higher protein intake improving bone health .

Multiple other studies show that a higher protein intake is a good thing when it comes to your bone health.

For example, it may improve your bone density and lower the risk of fractures. It also increases IGF-1 and lean mass, both known to promote bone health .

There are plenty of other potentially helpful nutritional strategies. If you want to learn more, check out this article on 10 natural ways to build healthy bones.


Long-term studies show that a high protein intake may improve your bone health. It does not cause osteoporosis.

What Are Meal Replacement Shakes


Before figuring out their relation to your kidneys, its essential to learn more about a meal replacement shake. These drinks are products meant to help us replace meals throughout our day, where they get their name.

If youre familiar with protein powder or protein shakes in general, you shouldnt have a hard time figuring out meal shakes. Theyre essentially the same thing and help with your daily protein intake. But, the significant difference is that they help with the intake of other nutrients as well.

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Dieticians Say Extra Protein Can Do More Harm Than Good

There is a warning that gym supplements are often doing more harm than good to people using them.

The British Dietetic Association says high levels of additional protein can cause side-effects, which can include nausea as well as kidney and liver damage.

It wants clearer warnings about what is in the powders and tablets.

Manufacturers say consumers are well protected with only 11 reported reactions in 11 years.

âThe more protein in your diet the more you have to get rid of,â she said.

âPeople who have these high protein diets are now running into problems with their kidneys because of the amount of protein they must get rid of.â

The body needs protein for muscle growth and many gym-goers use it to try to get bigger quickly.

Gym supplements come under food law, so although they have to be labelled properly what is in them can vary.

They are different to medicines which legally have to ensure contents are more specific.

What If Im Not On Dialysis But I Have Kidney Disease

For those with kidney disease that are not currently on dialysis, protein supplements are generally not recommended.

Those with kidney disease working to avoid or delay dialysis generally need to follow a low protein diet.Read more about the low protein diet here.

In some cases, a low protein diet may also be paired with a special type of protein supplement for people with CKD not on dialysis called ketoanalogues. Read more about ketoanalogues here.

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Can Eating Too Much Protein Affect Your Kidneys

While no major studies link high protein intake to kidney disease in healthy people, excess protein does force your kidneys to work harder and can cause problems for people with existing medical conditions. Kidney disease aside, the healthiest diet is a varied one that contains a balance of nutrients. Women only need about 46 grams of protein per day, while men need about 56 grams but most Americans consume more, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read Also: Why Do My Kidneys Hurt So Much

Balanced Protein Shakes For Everyone From Athletes To Cancer Patients

Best and Worst Protein Powders

Even though consuming more protein doesnt hurt, you should still focus on picking protein sources that make for healthy additions to your diet. ENU nutritional shakes each contain 20 grams of protein from whey and soy, along with complex carbs derived from whole grains, heart-friendly fats in the form of coconut and sunflower oils, and a blend of two dozen vitamins and minerals. Theyre perfect for everyone from bodybuilders to patients in need of medical nutrition support. Learn more about how ENU shakes can help you meet your health and fitness goals by visiting us online or calling 266-6733 today.

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Renal Function Following Long

This randomized controlled study investigated if low carb diets have any risks to kidney function .

68 participants were equally split into two groups, and they were put on one of two diets

  • Diet 1: Very low carbohydrate
  • Diet 2: High carbohydrate diet

As shown, both diets contained a respectable amount of protein, but the VLC diet provided significantly more than current recommendations at 35% of energy.

Full health markers for kidney health were taken before and after the study.

After a period of 12-months, there were no changes in either group to serum creatinine or glomerular filtration rate .

In short, this study showed very high protein diets dont adversely affect kidney health in individuals with abdominal obesity.

Compared with higher carbohydrate diets, there is no adverse effect from low carb, high protein diets.

Key Point:

How Your Kidneys Work

To grasp why protein would have an effect on your kidneys, it’s helpful to understand how your kidneys actually work. Your kidneys, which are located just below your rib cage on each side of your spine, are one of your body’s major filtration organs. Their main job is to filter wastes and any extra fluid out of your blood and then out of your body, through your urine. Your kidneys also filter metabolic byproducts, like acid, to maintain the proper balance of water, salt and electrolytes.

All of your blood passes through tiny filtration vessels called nephrons, which filter your blood, removing the waste products and returning any necessary nutrients to it. When your kidneys are healthy, they remove waste and extra fluid out of the blood, but allow protein to stay. On the other hand, if your kidneys aren’t working properly, some of the protein in your blood can make its way into the nephrons and, eventually, into your urine.

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But What Is A High Protein Diet Exactly

If were going to start talking smack about high protein diets, we need to define what we mean, and people are generally bad at doing that. Sometimes its defined as percentage of total calories, sometimes its grams per pound of bodyweight, and the cutoffs are always arbitrary and vary by researcher, field, or consensus.

The RDI suggests 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight, or 0.8 grams per kilogram. Anyone whos been in the strength game for a while will be more familiar with another number: 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, every day. Two hundred grams for a two-hundred-pound person.

Were not trying to say that is the optimal amount of protein to consume many get by just fine on much less but thats the number we hear thrown around the most.

Is Whey Protein Bad For Kidneys

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Building Muscle Through Protein

Protein is an important part of our diet and key to building and maintaining all types of body tissue, including muscle.

It contains amino acids, the building blocks used for muscle growth.

Protein powders, available as shakes, bars and capsules, are one of the most popular muscle-building supplements.

Theyâre legally available to buy over-the-counter as well as online.

Theyâre marketed as helping to promote your bodyâs muscle growth, aid metabolism , help you reach peak physical performance, boost energy and fight the ageing process.

âUsers may choose to take them before, during and after training to enhance performance and improve recovery, add them to meals to boost their protein, or drink them between meals as a high-protein snack,â says Azmina Govindji from the British Dietetic Association .

âBut they could get the same benefits from introducing high-protein foods to their diet as snacks or adding them to their normal meals to enhance the protein content.

âAlthough protein shakes are convenient, not all of them are suitable to be used as a meal replacement, because they donât have all the vitamins and nutrients that a balanced meal would contain.â

This means that bodybuilders who turn to protein supplements, instead of simply eating protein-rich foods, could be wasting their money.

Thereâs also evidence that, in the long term, consuming too much protein can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and can also worsen existing kidney problems.

Is A High Protein Diet Bad For The Kidneys

This idea gained steam after some studies were published in the late 1980s and early 1990s that showed the more protein people consumed, the greater their glomerular filtration rate , a marker for waste filtration in the kidneys. Scientists claimed that increased GFR meant the kidneys were experiencing undue stress.

But later studies showed that it wasnt the case for folks with healthy kidneys.

Theres also research that specifically looked at athletes. A crossover study of resistance-trained males found that guys who ate 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight had no harmful effects on kidney or liver function. Another study of bodybuilders consuming upwards of 1.3 grams per pound bodyweight also had no problems with the way their kidneys cleared creatinine, urea, and albumin.

So, problem solved, right?

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