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Can Too Much Protein Lead To Kidney Failure

Low Protein Diet Sample Menu

Does a High Protein Diet cause Kidney Disease? [WARNING: Myth Alert]

Here is an example of a day of a low protein diet for kidney disease.

Breakfast: Cream of wheat with ground flax seeds, chia seeds, berries, and maple syrup

Snack: Apple and popcorn

Lunch: Veggie wrap with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, red onion, cucumber, carrots, and hummus and a side of chips and corn salsa

Snack: Fruit and veggie smoothie

Dinner: Grilled, marinated Portobello mushroom with sauteed green beans, rice, and a side salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Snack: Frozen grapes

Is Kidney Damage From Too Much Protein Reversible

If youre starting to panic thinking back on all the delicious protein-rich foods youve enjoyed, heres some good news: you can reverse kidney damage that hasnt progressed to CKD. Lubeck says if your healthcare provider catches kidney damage before it progresses too far, it may be possible for you to undo the damage quite easily. For some people, all it takes is proper nutrition, hydration, and healthy lifestyle habits.

So how much protein do you need? The amount depends on various factors, such as age, weight, gender, and activity level. However, the JASN study notes that the standard recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. You may want to discuss this with your healthcare provider, but generally healthy adults can trust this recommendation. The researchers in the JASN study explained that this amount is calculated to meet the requirements of 97 to 98 percent of the population.

While minding your overall protein intake is a top priority for kidney health, Dr. Kalantar-Zadeh and his team recommend increasing your proportion of plant-based protein to animal protein. They suggest consuming half to two-thirds of your protein from plant sources to help prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease.

My Partner Died Of Kidney Failure

Around 2003, I had a very successful nutritional supplement business specific for athletes and bodybuilders. I had a business partner who was much older than me and at the time, someone I *thought* was also wiser and more knowledgeable.

I really looked up to him at the beginning of our partnership and friendship.

Unfortunately, over time, the longer I got to know him, the less I respected his decisions and views on health, fitness, and longevity.

One of them was the use of high-protein diets.

I remember him telling me that in order to really increase my muscle mass, while minimizing fat gain, I need to eat a lot more protein. He suggested a minimum of at least 2 grams per pound of body weight and it would be much better if I had 3 grams.

At that time, I was eating 1 gram per pound. Thus, I weighed about 200 lbs and ate 200 grams of protein.

But he suggested I increase it to 400 grams and preferably 600 grams, daily to start seeing the real muscle-building benefits.

He himself, being very muscular and lean at 250 lbs, was eating almost 1000 grams of protein daily and said that was ONE of his secrets. Most of the protein is from fast-digesting Whey protein.

And so, I decided to give it a try because I trusted him.

After all, he was 7 inches shorter than me and yet, he had an extra 50+ lbs of muscle.

Over the next 3 months, I slowly increased my protein to eventually eating 600 grams daily. It was about 100 grams, 6x daily.

Was this all because of the high protein diet?

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What Causes Protein In The Urine

Healthy kidneys remove extra fluid and waste from your blood and transform it into urine. Healthy kidneys do not remove proteins and other important nutrients, which pass through and return to your blood. But when your kidneys are damaged, they may let this protein leak into your urine. This causes high levels of protein in your urine.

Anyone can have protein in their urine. You may be more likely to have protein in your urine if you have one or more of the risk factors for kidney disease. There are health problems that can cause long-lasting protein in the urine, and some that can cause short-term protein in the urine.

Eating Plenty Of Protein Is A Good Thing

3. Eating too much protein can lead to kidney damage and cardiovascular ...

There are many benefits associated with a high protein intake.

  • Muscle mass: Adequate amounts of protein have a positive effect on muscle mass and are crucial to prevent muscle loss on a calorie-restricted diet (
  • 24 ).

Overall, a higher protein intake is beneficial for your health, especially for maintaining muscle mass and losing weight.


There are many benefits to a high protein intake, such as weight loss, increased lean mass and a lower risk of obesity.

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How Do Kidneys Leak

Your kidneys work like an incredibly smart filter: sifting blood for what should stay and what should go. One of the key parts of your kidneys that do this is a small structure called the glomerulus you can think of the glomerulus like a sieve at the start of the filtering process. When your blood flows into the kidneys, and through the glomerulus to be filtered, it passes through a group of very flat cells called glomerular endothelial cells. One of the important jobs of these cells is to stop protein leaking out from the blood and they do this with the help of a specialised surface coating, made of sugars, which forms a barrier that we call the glycocalyx.

Research just out from the Bristol University, by Dr Raina Ramnath working as part of Prof Satchells team in Bristol Renal, has uncovered that there are enzymes specialised proteins in the body that break down that glycocalyx barrier and let albumin pass out into the urine. In this case, it was a group of enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases that were responsible for damaging the glycocalyx. Dr Ramnath highlights that there are higher levels of these MMPs in the diabetic mice than in healthy mice, which helps to explain why the kidneys leak protein in diabetes.

Supplements For A Low Protein Diet

Some studies have shown that adding ketoanalogues to a low or very low protein diet may help indelaying dialysis.

Adding ketoanalogues can be a beneficial way toget enough protein without the uremic wastes that come from dietary protein.

Ketoanalogues are the amino acids of proteins but without the uremic toxins, the body and kidneys typically deal with. Learn more about ketoanalogues here.

One of the other supplements you may want to look into is a kidney-safe multivitamin. While food should always come first, many people with a restrictive diet can benefit from a multivitamin that can help cover nutritional deficiencies.

Some of the common multivitamins for kidney health include ProRenal and Renavite. Be sure to discuss any and all supplements prior to starting with your doctor and dietitian.

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Are There Tests To Diagnose The Cause Of Proteinuria

Proteinuria itself can be diagnosed with a simple dipstick test. This involves dipping a specially treated paper strip into a sample of urine. Results are returned within one to two minutes.

To measure the exact amount of protein excreted in the urine, your healthcare provider may recommend a 24-hour urine collection test. By evaluating the composition of urine collected over 24 hours , the lab can calculate how much protein is passed each day.

What Are The Symptoms Of Too Much Protein

Chronic Kidney Disease: Protein Intake

As mentioned above, consuming a certain amount of protein is pretty much a requirement when it comes to supporting our overall health and wellbeing. And while it can be difficult to provide the answer to how much protein is too much, you can usually count on your body to show signs if a higher protein intake or simply a change in diet is affecting you, these indicators might include:

  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability

Remember, the ideal amount of protein that you should be consuming varies depending on a number of factors such as age, gender, activity level, and health conditions. It’s important to speak with a professional before undergoing any dietary changes.

If youre concerned about your kidney health, its important to make a trip to the doctor for a check-up.

If you want to know more about your kidney health, including your kidney function and its performance, you can take an at-home Kidney Test with LetsGetChecked. This test will indicate how your kidneys are performing by measuring levels of urea, creatinine, and eGFR. High levels of urea, creatinine and a low eGFR can indicate acute or chronic kidney disease.

You should take the test if:

  • You have a high protein diet
  • You have used or are using performance-enhancing drugs
  • You are taking anti-inflammatory medication
  • You suffer from high blood pressure
  • You suffer from diabetes

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Health Effects Of Protein Intake In Healthy Adults: A Systematic Literature Review

This systematic review analyzed the existing literature on protein intake and a range of different health conditions .

Regarding kidney health, the review found that there is inconclusive evidence that a higher protein intake can affect kidney function.

Among the notable points from this study was the findings of the European Food Safety Authority .

This food safety organization published their findings on protein intake and kidney health in 2012. Markedly, the EFSA deemed that there is insufficient evidence available to justify an upper level of protein intake for optimal kidney function.

On the negative side, this systematic review did find an association between kidney function decline and high protein intake in people with kidney disease.

Overall, the studys position is that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that high protein diets cause harm.

However, the researchers do stress that they cant rule out high protein intake affecting kidney function in the long term since this research doesnt yet exist.

Key Point:

Foods To Include On A Low Protein Diet

A low protein diet will include a variety of foods. Food groups considered low in protein include

  • Fruits

Other components of a low protein diet include items such as

  • Herbs
  • Coffee and tea
  • Sauces and some dips

While its not a guarantee, many with late-stage kidney disease may need to limit potassium. Obviously, this will be something to pay attention to when it comes to increasing your fruits and vegetables.

Remember- there are plenty of low-potassium fruits and vegetables available for you to enjoy. You can also likely still include some high potassium foods as well, but its best to work with a dietitian to know how to do that safely.

You can learn more about a low potassium diet here.

Heart-healthy fats are a must when it comes to a low protein diet. Some of my favorite fat sources include

  • Olive oil
  • Low sodium olives

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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.

Proteins: The Building Blocks Of Life

Is Too Much Protein Bad For My Kidneys Sunlight Pharmacy

Proteins, as we know are the building blocks of life. Body building, muscle building requires protein intakes in the regular diet. Muscles and various other body proteins are built from amino acids, which come from the proteins we eat. There are number of diets, which contain all the essential amino acids. Beans, grains, lentils, and fresh vegetables contain all the essential amino acids our body requires. Meat, fish and dairy products also contain high protein content.

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How Do Doctors Treat Protein In The Urine

Doctors treat the cause of protein in the urine:

  • If you have diabetes, your doctor will help create a treatment plan to keep it under control and slow down damage to your kidneys. They may recommend that you:
  • Check your blood sugar often
  • Take certain medicines
  • Follow a diabetes-friendly eating plan
  • Be active most days of the week
  • If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe a medicine to help lower your blood pressure and slow down damage to your kidneys. The types of medicine are:
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, which are a group of medicines that lower blood pressure. They widen your blood vessels, help your kidneys get rid of extra water and lower the hormones that raise blood pressure.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers , which are a group of medicines that lower blood pressure. They widen your blood vessels.
  • If you do not have diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor may still prescribe an ACE inhibitor or an ARB to slow down damage to your kidneys.
  • Drinking water will not treat the cause of protein in your urine unless you are dehydrated. Drinking water will dilute your urine , but will not stop the cause of your kidneys leaking protein.

    If you have protein in your urine, talk with your doctor to choose the best treatment option for you.

    When Too Much Protein Might Be Harmful

    Eating too much protein can lead to harmful side effects if you have existing kidney problems, or a family history of renal disease or kidney stones.

    Some symptoms can indicate possible kidney disease or failure, a serious and potentially dangerous health problem, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

    See a doctor if you experience some combination of the following symptoms of kidney problems:

    • Fatigue
    • Blood or foam present in your urine
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Swollen legs or ankles

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    What Is Chronic Kidney Disease

    The kidneys are critical to our overall health. They remove waste, excess fluid, and acids created during the metabolic processes, out of the body, in the form of urine. They also ensure a healthy balance of minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium in the blood. This process happens all through the day and is carried out by millions of nephrons present in the kidney. The efficiency of this process is measured by a factor called Glomerular Filtration Rate or GFR.

    In some people, this function or ability of the kidneys deteriorate with time due to various reasons. The condition is called Chronic Kidney Disease and is one of the ailments that affect the kidneys. This progresses through 5 different stages, with the last being kidney failure that can sometimes be fatal unless a kidney transplant is done . If detected in the early stages, the condition can be reversed or its progression halted. But when detected late, the condition cannot be reversed.

    How To Stop Kidneys From Leaking Protein

    Nutrition and Kidney Disease

    The first step to stop kidneys from leaking protein is to know the symptoms of it. Protein leak from kidneys is usually an indication of an underlying disease that needs to be diagnosed.

    Leakage of large amounts of protein in the urine could be noticed with the following symptoms:

    • Slummy, bubbling and frothy urine while using the toilet
    • Body swelling around hands, feet, face and abdomen
    • Sugar presence in urine in patients who have diabetes
    • Weight gain due to fluid accumulation in the body
    • Appetite gets reduced
    • Protein supplements in blood are decreased. These include globulin and albumin.

    While in most cases, proteinuria is detected with a urine examination done in patients suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes. If you notice the above symptoms, a urine examination if often advised for confirmation.

    A urine examination would directly detect the presence of protein helping to identify proteinuria. The patient can get it done either at the doctorâs clinic or a pathology centre. The patient would be asked to give the urine sample in a specimen container which is used for diagnosis. While, some urine is tested right away using a dipstick, remaining is subjected to microscopic examination.

    Here are some effective ways to stop the leakage of protein from kidneys. Know how to stop it and protect your health. It is important to understand that proteinuria is not a disease in itself, rather a symptom of an underlying disease.

    These are:

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    Dietary Protein And Renal Function In Animal Models

    Although there is limited research regarding the long-term effects of high protein intakes on renal function in humans, animal models have provided insight into this quandary. Mammals fed acute and chronic high protein diets exhibit increases in GFR and renal blood flow . These changes, which are comparable to those observed in humans, led to the hypothesis that high protein intakes are associated with progressive glomerulosclerosis in the rat. Recently, Lacroix et al. studied the effects of a diet containing 50% protein on renal function in Wistar rats and noted no abnormalities in renal function or pathology. Collins et al. also reported no adverse effects of long-term consumption of high protein diets on renal function when two years of a diet containing 60% protein failed to evoke changes in the percentage of sclerotic glomeruli in rats. Robertson et al., studied the effect of increased protein intake on hyperperfusion and the progression of glomerulosclerosis in dogs that were 75% nephrectomized. After four years of feeding diets that were either 56, 27 or 19% protein, no association between diet and structural changes in the kidney were observed.

    How To Treat Proteinuria

    Proteinuria is not a disease but rather a condition caused by another illness. As such, the treatment is mainly focused on resolving or managing the underlying cause.

    For instance, the symptoms of acute kidney injuryâformerly known as acute kidney failureâwill usually clear once the underlying condition is treated. In most cases, the kidney function will return to normal with no permanent damage to the kidneys.

    With chronic kidney disease , the focus is placed on improving the function of the kidneys to slow the progression of the disease. With respect to proteinuria, lifestyle measures will help control diabetes and high blood pressure as ways to slow progression of the disease.

    In addition, medications like ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers help reduce urine protein levels.Statin drugs, used to reduce cholesterol, appear to have similar benefits in people with CKD.

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