Can You Eat Too Much Protein? Is It Safe? Kidney, Bone Health & More
6 minute read
These days, it can be hard to know if a certain food is good for you or bad for you. Protein, especially red meat, has come under fire recently from health-minded folks who are concerned about nutrition.
There have been a lot of claims that eating too much protein can negatively impact your system in a number of ways. With that in mind, it’s worth assessing whether it is possible to consume so much protein that it begins to affect your health negatively.
Let’s address some of the concerns that are often raised about protein, and see if they are really threats to your health:
Does Protein Cause Osteoporosis?
Some people claim that too much protein can cause osteoporosis in the body. As the theory goes, protein adds to the acidic load inside your body, which causes calcium from your bones to be used as a neutralizer to the acid.
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This theory purports that the calcium loss caused by excess protein consumption can lead to osteoporosis symptoms. But even though some studies have shown evidence of short-term calcium loss, the effect does not continue over time.
Long-term studies have even shown that there is no evidence that increasing your protein consumption will negatively affect bone health. In many cases, protein can actually help improve bone function. This claim is supported by scientific studies, which have linked protein to improved bone density and a lower risk of fractures.
Does Protein Harm Kidney Function?
The kidneys are similar to the liver in that they are used as a filtration system within your body. They filter waste, excess nutrients, and other unneeded compounds, which produces urine.
One theory is that additional protein consumption causes your kidneys to work harder, which can lead to damaging strain.
The fact is, adding some protein to your diet might increase the workload of your kidneys a small amount, but compared to the work your kidneys are already doing on a daily basis, this increase is negligible.
For example, your kidneys filter about 48 gallons of blood every day, so a little extra protein is nothing for these organs. Now, if you already have kidney disease, protein might not be the best thing, but for people with healthy kidneys, the effects of protein are not significant.
What Are Some Benefits of Protein?
Protein actually has a wide range of benefits to the human body, so there are a number of reasons why you should maintain a good amount of protein consumption. Here are a few of the benefits protein can offer your body:
Build and Repair Tissue
Hair and nails are made mostly of protein, but protein also helps your body with so much more. One of the important ways protein contributes to your health is by building and repairing tissue.
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Tissue is a vital component of your skeletomuscular system, and without enough protein, the tissues in your body could get weaker. To make sure you can exercise and be active, with your body functioning at peak levels, you need to have enough protein in your system.
Perhaps the best known use of protein is in building muscles and repairing them after a workout. This is why protein shakes and protein bars are so present in fitness culture.
When you run for a long distance or lift a heavy amount of weight, it uses a tremendous amount of energy, which can leave your body feeling tired and depleted. Protein helps restore your energy on a cellular level, and it helps build back muscle mass after you work out.
Athletes and bodybuilders are big fans of protein for this reason, but even if you just exercise casually, it’s important to get your body an adequate supply of protein.
Important for Cartilage
You may have noticed a theme in these benefits, and that’s the fact that protein is a building block, a key component of many different parts of your body.
Cartilage, which is especially important in the skeletal system, is also made up of proteins. So to keep your cartilage healthy, which will ensure your bones, muscles, and joints are running smoothly, you need to eat enough protein.
Maintain Healthy Skin
Protein is essential for good skin health. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and slow down some of the associated symptoms of skin aging. Many moisturizers and skin products actually contain proteins, because of their effect on skin cells.
The Bottom Line
All this evidence points to the fact that protein is beneficial, not harmful, to your body. Is it possible to eat too much protein? Studies show that even excess protein can be converted into energy by your body.
For most people, it would be extremely difficult to eat an amount of protein that would actually be harmful to you. Protein has many more positive effects than negative ones, so eating a high-protein diet won’t cause as much harm as some people think.
At the end of the day, it’s better to stock up on protein so your body can function at an optimal level. Your body needs protein to thrive. Even if you’re a vegetarian, there are high-protein foods you can use to substitute for meat, and it’s important not to let yourself experience protein deficiency.