Nutrition 8 MIN READ

Can High Protein Consumption Impact Metabolism?

If you’ve made any attempt at getting fit or eating healthy, you know by now the crucial role that protein plays not only in helping you power through strength training at the gym, but in growth, development and your long-term health and well-being as well.

Written by Team Ultrahuman

Jun 09, 2022
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If you’ve made any attempt at getting fit or eating healthy, you know by now the crucial role that protein plays not only in helping you power through strength training at the gym, but in growth, development and your long-term health and well-being as well. The minute you sign up for a nutrition plan, you’re going to be asked about your protein intake. But what exactly does protein do in the body? How much of it do you actually need to consume on a daily basis? And is there such a thing as too much protein? Let’s find out.


  • Protein is considered a ‘macronutrient’ because the body requires relatively large quantities of it to ensure its well-being,
  • While the popularity of high-protein diets has raised considerable concern over their safety, research suggests there isn’t a connection between high-protein diets and kidney or heart disease in healthy individuals,
  • High protein in the blood or urine is not a condition in itself and may be the result of several underlying causes.

Why is protein so important?

Our bodies rely on protein for the creation and maintenance of cells, which means it’s a fundamental requirement for our bodies to function and stay healthy. The body also does not store protein like it stores sugar and fat, making it an important part of your daily nutrition. Protein is considered a ‘macronutrient’ because the body requires relatively large quantities of it to ensure its well-being.

What happens to the body when we consume protein?

Our bodies—cells, tissues and enzymes—are all made up of protein, which has numerous functions. Let’s take a look at some of its crucial roles:

As building blocks: Our bones, muscles, cartilage and skin are all made up of protein. Our skin and hair are also almost entirely protein.

In digestion: The protein we consume every day is broken down into amino acids that help make digestion possible. They also help create new cells and bodily chemicals. They make up the enzymes that are behind many chemical reactions and the haemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood.

Carrying oxygen: Protein is a key compound in red blood cells that supply oxygen to the whole body, ensuring it gets the nutrients it needs.

In regulation: Protein plays a central role in regulating hormones. It helps reduce hunger pangs and helps the transformation of cells in puberty. The growth spurt that happens in puberty increases the nutritional requirement for both macro and micronutrients. Protein, being an essential macronutrient, powers the body through this period of rapid growth.

To build and repair: Protein is essential to building and maintaining cells and repairing muscles that can tear during exercise or under extreme exertion.

Ideal protein intake and the impact/side-effects of too much


Before we go into the effects of protein excess, let’s look at how much protein your body needs on a daily basis and some healthy food sources you could include in your daily meal plans.

Your protein intake can be:

  1. Gender-based: While the ideal daily requirement of protein isn’t definitive, most research recommends 56 gms/day for men and 46 gms/day for women. You can get this 46 grams of protein from a serving of low-fat greek yoghurt or 4 ounces of lean chicken breast.
  2. Weight-based: 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein. If you’re the active sort, spend a lot of time lifting weight at the gym, are a breastfeeding mother or are an older adult, you’re going to need more. For instance, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for athletes.
  3. Calorie-based: For most active adults, 10% of all calories you consume in a day should come from proteins.

In general, it’s helpful to pay attention to the quality of your food source along with the quantity. For example, you could cut down on red meat for healthier options such as salmon, chicken breast, yoghurt or plant-based proteins.

With the rising popularity of high-protein diets, there has been considerable concern over the safety of these diets in relation to kidney, heart and bone health. But what does the research say? Is there some legitimacy to these concerns?

Let’s take a look:

The effects of high-protein diets on your kidneys

One of the first concerns you’ll hear when you tell people that you’re on a high-protein diet is the load this is going to place on your kidneys and how it could affect your overall kidney function. But research confirms that while an increase in protein in the diet does increase the workload for your kidneys, it does not cause any harm to those with healthy kidney function.

One study found that consuming 3.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for 8 weeks along with resistance training did not have any adverse effects on participants. It did not change any of the markers of kidney function such as glomerular filtration rate (GFR)—which shows how well the kidneys’ filtering function is working—blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.

But while high-protein diets may be safe for those with normal kidney function, people with decreased kidney function must avoid them. Research has found that a high-protein diet can accelerate the decline of kidney function in such people.

Since the kidneys are in charge of flushing out the waste from protein metabolism, a high-protein diet in those with impaired kidney function could lead to the accumulation of toxic material and damage to the kidneys. Research, therefore, recommends protein-restricted diets for those with decreased kidney function.

The effects of high-protein diets on your heart

Another common concern about high-protein diets is the risk of heart disease. While research has repeatedly confirmed that higher protein diets don’t typically harm heart health, some studies have shown that a diet rich in animal protein may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. On the other hand, diets that are high in plant protein were found to have a protective effect against death by heart disease.

The effects of high-protein diets on bone health

Older studies have suggested that high protein may lead to low bone mineral density. However, more recent studies have shown that a higher protein diet may, in fact, positively affect bone health. According to a 2019 review of 13 studies, there was a significant connection between protein intake more than the current RDA and lower risk of hip fracture and higher bone mineral density.

High protein in the blood

Hyperproteinemia, or high protein in the blood, isn’t a condition in itself but is often an indication that there’s something else going on in the body that needs your attention. Since this doesn’t produce symptoms of its own, it’s usually detected during routine blood tests.

Some potential causes of high blood protein include:

  • Dehydration
  • Hepatitis (B and C)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Amyloidosis
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

High protein in the urine

Proteinuria, or high protein in the urine, happens when—due to impaired kidney function—the protein makes it past your kidney’s filtering mechanisms and ends up in your urine. Again, this could be an indication of several underlying causes including:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lupus
  • Kidney infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sickle cell anaemia

Protein levels in urine may also be temporarily high for a number of reasons including emotional stress, fever, exposure to cold temperatures, intense exercise and dehydration.

How to remove excess protein from the body?

As we’ve already seen, high protein in the blood or urine is not a problem by itself, and can be a symptom of several potential causes. In order to get rid of the excess protein, you have to understand the underlying cause and focus on addressing it.

For example, if high blood pressure is what’s behind your proteinuria, you’d want to focus on getting your blood pressure under control and within a normal range, after which the excess protein condition will usually resolve on its own. If it’s the result of dehydration, on the other hand, drinking more water and ensuring you’re getting enough electrolytes should take care of the excess protein.

Likewise, if high protein in the body stems from emotional stress, addressing it with stress relief techniques such as yoga and meditation is the way to go.


Our bodies rely on protein in order to function and stay healthy. Protein plays several crucial roles in the body, and because the body does not store protein the way it stores sugar and fat, you’re going to need a lot more of it on a daily basis. That amount depends on a number of factors such as your weight and your level of activity, but the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram of your body weight.

With the rising popularity of high-protein diets, concerns have been raised about their effects on kidney function, and heart and bone health. While there are exceptions, most recent research suggests that there is no connection between high-protein diets and impaired kidney function, heart disease or bone health in healthy adults.

High protein in blood and urine, on the other hand, can be the result of a number of underlying causes having nothing to do with diet. The only way to get rid of this excess protein in the body is by addressing the underlying cause.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.


  1. Why Is Protein Important In Your Diet? | Piedmont Healthcare
  2. Protein, weight management, and satiety
  3. When it comes to protein, how much is too much? – Harvard Health
  4. Are There Dangers to Eating Too Much Protein?
  5. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit – PMC

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