Pitfalls of a High-Protein Diet

In recent years, high-protein diets such as the Atkins, South Beach, and Zone meal plans have soared in popularity. In fact, according to the NPD Group, a New York based research firm, approximately 71 percent of consumers say they want more protein in their diets.

To accommodate their wishes, food manufacturers are scrambling to add more protein to their offerings such as cereal and granola bars. Retailers are also rushing to advertise the natural high-protein content of foods like nuts and Greek yogurt. Whether you’re participating in the protein craze or not, you might question the reasons for the hype.

Scientists have touted the benefits of consuming protein for years. Studies show consuming protein can both provide you with a feeling of fullness and help you build lean muscle mass. Recent research endeavors linking high-protein diets to weight loss have cemented them in the spotlight.

However, eating extra protein isn’t going to transform you into a supermodel overnight. You still must exercise and work hard to achieve lean muscle mass. Also, if you’re like most Americans, you’re already consuming the United States Department of Agriculture’s, recommended 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.

What’s concerning about this diet is that it can easily do more harm than good to your body if you eat too much protein. The following pitfalls of a high-protein diet make the case for consuming protein, like fats and carbohydrates, in moderation.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Trendy high-protein diets tend to encourage limiting, or even eliminating, other types of foods, most notably carbohydrates, from your diet. If you decrease or cease your intake of healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you risk becoming deficit in several nutrients including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • B Vitamins
  • Folate
  • Dietary Fiber

Without the nutrients provided by carbohydrates in your diet, you might suffer from headaches, bad breath, or constipation.

Kidney Problems

When protein consumption rises, your glomerular filtration rate, GFR, increases. The long-term elevation of your GFR might be detrimental to your kidneys. This may especially be the case for those already suffering from kidney dysfunction. The correlation between increased protein intake and hydration is crucial. When you begin consuming more protein, an upsurge in solute excretion, including urea and other nitrogenous wastes, takes place. Due to this process, more water is needed to avoid dehydration.

A large study conducted on humans suggests a link between animal protein consumption and the development of kidney stones. Therefore, high-protein diets may not be suitable for people who suffer from kidney disease or face an increased risk for the development of kidney stones. Because both protein efficiency and the production of GFR declines with age, further research is needed to clarify the impact of long-term high-protein consumption among older people.

Heart Disease

All sources of protein aren’t created equal. Some high-protein meal plans allow foods such as full-fat dairy products and red meat. Because of their high saturated fat content, these foods can elevate your LDL, bad, cholesterol and increase your risk for developing heart disease. Eating a lot of meat, especially the red variety, typically equates to consuming a ton of calories. Increasing the amount of calories you consume can actually be detrimental to your waistline, and your heart, rather than beneficial. If you want to boost your protein consumption, accomplish the task by eating more plant based sources like beans or fish.


Consuming a high-protein diet may cause you to urinate more calcium than normal. Some studies suggest this issue can result in the development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become thin and brittle. As this phenomena occurs, you’re more likely to suffer painful fractures.

Many fad diets fall out of grace with the public quickly. After all, most of them involve restricting something, such as gluten, sugar, or fat, from your diet. The current protein craze actually encourages you to eat and drink more of it. People are embracing this change in dieting mentality. So, the obsession with protein may have uncharacteristic staying power.

However, due to the aforementioned potential problems associated with high-protein diets, stocking your refrigerator with cheddar cheese, ribeye steaks, and whole milk probably isn’t a good idea. Filling your plate with balanced portions of protein, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and whole grains is a better idea.

~ Health Scams Exposed