From protein supplements to larger protein portions, in the past few years, high protein diets have become pretty popular. And, with this popularity comes the question - how much protein is too much?
We’re going to delve into the topic of protein, the effect protein can have on your kidneys and ultimately answer the question: can too much protein damage your kidneys?
Why is protein necessary?
Protein is essential for a healthy diet. Often referred to as the ‘building block of life’, it plays a central role in both growth and development; every living cell utilises it.
Below are just some reasons we need protein :
- Builds and repairs tissue
- Building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin
- Regulates hormones - particularly during puberty
- Helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body
How much protein should you be eating per day?
In recent years, many people have begun to increase their protein intake in an effort to lose excess weight and/or build muscle, but how much protein should you be eating everyday? 
Though the ideal amount of protein you should be consuming is slightly uncertain - the most common recommendation is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Can too much protein damage your kidneys?
When it comes to the relationship between protein and your kidneys - too much of a good thing isn’t always great.
To put it simply, your kidneys work pretty hard to clear the metabolites of protein from your body, so too much protein can potentially add strain to your already hard-working kidneys .
Studies have shown that a high protein diet can cause kidney stones and can worsen kidney function in those already living with kidney disease:
Eating a lot of animal protein such as red meat, poultry and eggs can boost the level of uric acid in the kidneys and can lead to kidney stones.
A high protein diet can also reduce levels of citrate - this is the chemical in your urine which can prevent stones from forming.
If you have kidney disease, it’s important to keep an eye on the amount and type of protein you eat. Too much can cause waste to build up in your blood and your kidneys may not have the strength to remove the extra waste. Speak with your doctor to get an idea of how much protein you should be eating.
If you’re concerned about your kidney health, 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
- you have suffered an acute injury
- you have persistent urinary tract infections
- you have a kidney disease or a family history of one
- you have kidney stones or a family history of them