Is too much protein unhealthy?

Is too much protein unhealthy?

Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Protein is a nutrient, just like carbohydrates and fat. Protein provides calories and amino acids. Amino acids in proteins ensure the strengthening and repair of body cells. That is why it is important to get enough protein, especially if you are an active athlete. A lack of protein in the diet can lead to stunted growth, poor recovery, reduced resistance and breakdown of muscle mass. But is too much protein unhealthy?

We take a closer look at this in this article. As it is with everything, "too much" of anything is never healthy. Water is essential, but too much of it can be deadly. Too much spinach is unhealthy, and so is too much fatty fish, no matter how healthy they can be in the right portions. Do you want to know what the optimal amount of protein per day is for you? Read our article: How much protein do you need per day?


You regularly hear that too much protein is bad for our kidneys or liver. The idea behind this is that more proteins cause increased pressure on these organs, which can lead to damage. Proteins are broken down into urea by the kidneys. The substance 'urea' is one of the waste products produced by the kidneys during the filtering process of proteins and is used by researchers to evaluate kidney function.

Nutritionists still believe that a constant daily protein intake above 2 grams per pound of body weight can overload the kidneys, but this has never been scientifically proven. When you drink enough in one day, you prevent a (too) high concentration of proteins in your kidneys and urine. However, high protein consumption can be harmful for people who have kidney disease.


When you eat fewer carbohydrates or go on a complete protein diet, your body and your metabolism go into a certain state called ketosis. Ketosis is the phase where the body transitions from using carbohydrates for fuel to fats. When you get into ketosis, the fat burns faster. This is of course good news if you want to get rid of your belly. However, be careful because it can have a less great effect on your breath.

Weight gain

Don't expect to lose weight if you take extra protein and leave the rest of your diet the same. If you eat more protein without cutting calories through other foods, you may not lose weight. Protein provides energy: 4 kilocalories per gram. To lose weight you need a negative energy balance so a further adjustment of the diet is necessary. A 2012 study showed that people on a high-protein, high-fat diet gained the same amount of fat when they overeated as those on a low-protein, high-fat diet. The people who ate more protein did develop more muscle mass, according to TIME.


Protein-rich foods are good for building muscle, but are otherwise low in fiber. When you eat less complex carbohydrates, and especially a lot of proteins, it is therefore difficult to get your recommended daily 25 to 35 grams of fiber. So it can happen that your intestines get upset about this. Therefore, make sure you have a varied diet with lots of vegetables and fruit to maintain the balance and prevent intestinal complaints.


It is also claimed that too much protein is harmful to our bones. It would ensure that more calcium is excreted by the body. It is true that more calcium is excreted, but an increased protein intake also causes our body to absorb more calcium through the intestines. So more goes out, but more comes in.

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