Is a high protein diet bad for you?
Is a high protein diet really bad for you? We have talked about a lot of myths regarding meal timing and frequency, fats and carbs but never about protein. Because this macronutrient is great right?
It helps you with weight loss, building muscles and your immune system. Especially when you go for lean protein, these are low fat high protein foods.
But is this all so great or are there any negative health benefits to a high protein diet?
Does a high protein diet lead to bone loss?
In the early years of the 1900’s, there was a research published that higher protein intake leads to higher excretion of calcium in the urine, and this could lead to bone loss.
Calcium builds bones and keeps them healthy, not only that it also helps our blood clot and helps our muscles contract.
This has been debunked in multiple studies, they found that a diet higher in protein did not affect the absorption of intestinal calcium at all.
However, there were a lot of studies in the early 1900’s that claimed that high protein leads to high calcium excretion.
Since there was calcium which wasn’t absorbed in the intestine but was excreted in the urine it had to come from somewhere.
A lot of people assumed that this calcium came from the bones, this was called the acid-ash hypothesis. The amino acids will get you in a state of acidosis, this is when your body fluids contain too much acid.
The body tries to buffer the acidity by releasing alkaline stores form the bones. This results in calcium loss.
So how did it go wrong? The studies in the 1900’s were wrong, taken in more protein in the diet leads to higher absorption of calcium in your intestine.
And therefore it is more in the blood and higher in the urine. So protein does not increase bone loss.
Is it true that you can only absorb 20 grams?
The idea that people can only absorb 20 grams of protein per meal is based on a research about whey and egg proteins.
These specific proteins can be absorbed really quick, so 20 grams of this per meal can cause maximal stimulation of muscle proteins.
So this is true. But this led to the idea that, because there is evidence that stimulation was best at 20 grams, there were no possible benefits to consuming more than this.
These 20 grams is great because it provides us with 1.8 grams of leucine, an amino acid. This is the real limit for absorption, 1,8 grams of leucine not 20 grams of protein.
Because you can get leucine from many different sources it would not be logical to have one set number of protein. Since the concentration of leucine differs in food sources.
When you want to get 1,8 leucine from lean beef you should eat around 110 grams, but this can differ from source to source.
Does a high protein diet harm your kidney’s?
Another myth around protein but this time regarding the kidneys. But before I get into this myth I want to have one thing clear.
This myth-busting is for people that do NOT have any pre-existing kidney diseases.
Because it is true that increasing protein in your diet can in people with kidney diseases lead to further worsening of the kidney function.
So protein does not impact the cause of the disease, but when you have it protein can make it worse. Some studies even found that increasing dietary protein can increase the kidney function in healthy people.
There is no foundation that protein can decline the function of kidneys in healthy people.
So by now, I hope that I convinced you that a high protein diet won’t harm you as long as you are healthy.
If you feel like you might have some serious kidney disease, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
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