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Question #4: Will a high protein diet damage my kidneys?

Sustainable Health

Research suggests that there is little evidence a high protein diet will cause kidney damage in otherwise healthy individuals. However, individuals with compromised kidneys will need to restrict themselves to a low-medium protein diet. [1]

Your daily requirement of protein is about 10 – 35% of your daily caloric requirements. For instance, if your BMR is 1500, 20% of that is 300 calories, which when divided by 4 (calories per gram of protein) gives us 75 grams of protein. [4] An alternate method of calculating protein requirement is based on your body weight. Multiple your weight in kilos by 0.8 to get the number of grams you require each day. For instance, if you weight 60 kilos, you need 48 grams of protein in a day. [5]

Having said that, certain other research suggests that we ought to eat balanced protein not only from the prime cuts of meat/muscle meats such as steaks and ribs, but also from glycine-rich components, including the bones, skin, connective tissue, ligaments etc., that contain substances useful to offsetting the potentially undesirable effects of methionine [3], which is an essential amino acid in humans, the over-consumption of which is linked to the growth of cancers. [2]

Conclusion:

  • A protein rich diet is probably alright in healthy individuals without medical conditions or issues. [1] Nonetheless, please do not exceed your daily requirement without consulting a doctor.
  • A protein rich diet is probably not alright for individuals with existing kidney issues. [1]

References:

  1. Controversies Surrounding High-Protein Diet Intake: Satiating Effect and Kidney and Bone Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4424780/
  2. The wayward methyl group and the cascade to cancer
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5444351/
  3. Effect of Glycine and Serine on Methionine Metabolism in Rats Fed Diets High in Methionine
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/100.10.1205
  4. Protein in diet
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm
  5. Protein
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
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