Is Too Much Protein Bad for Kidneys?

A lot has been said about kidney problems due to too much protein in our diet. Some get scared and drastically reduce protein in their diet, others just choose to ignore every warning and take a chance.

What is the truth, though?

Let's begin with saying that all those cold cut meats, salami, capicollo, prosciutto (very Italian here...) are so good (and being from Italy, I miss them so much here in Canada) but...there is a but.

In fact, they're not very healthy for our kidneys, nope, they're not good friends...

To preserve these organs it is fundamental to follow a healthy and balanced diet, and avoid excess of protein, phosphorus and potassium.

Avoid Too Much Protein to Protect Your Kidneys

Kidney failure due to too much proteinHere's a list of things to keep in mind to prevent or cure kidney diseases that affect millions of people in the world.

1. Stay Active and Fit

Regular physical activity helps control blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of developing kidney disease.

2. Check Your Blood Sugar Regularly

Statistics say that about half of people with kidney disease have diabetes. It is important to check your blood sugar regularly and keep it within the recommended range.

Maintain healthy weight through a correct and balanced diet.

3. Check the Blood Pressure

After diabetes the most common cause of kidney disease is high blood pressure. Common normal pressure level is 120/80. High blood pressure is especially dangerous to the kidneys when it is associated with other factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

4. Eat Healthy and Watch Your Weight

Prefer a diet based on vegetables, like the Mediterranean diet, to reduce the level of acidity of the urine and reduce the workload for kidneys as well.

A few simple rules can easily be followed:

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables: these are foods that have fewer calories and lots of antioxidant vitamins.
  • Eat, at every meal, cereals like pasta, rice, bread, corn flour. Both regular and whole grains).
  • Cook pasta with simple (and better if vegetable) sauces.
  • Choose simple types of bread and cereals. Salt-free and oil-free breads, dry biscuits
  • Consume legumes at least 2 times a week (chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, soybeans) as a source of protein. Vegetable soups and vegetables should be seasoned with extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Reduce the intake of foods that contain too much protein, in particular those of animal origin like meats, eggs, cheese and dairy products.
  • Choose meats and cold cuts where it is possible to remove the visible fat.
  • Eat fish regularly, at least 2-3 times a week.
  • Eat cheese and dairy products no more than 2-3 times a week.
  • When you cook prefer the extra virgin olive oil, and also for condiments.

5. Reduce the Consumption of Salt

Rather use herbs and spices to enhance the taste of your meals, but reduce salt intake. Well, I guess that this is something you have been told many times already. I confirm, salt is quite bad for our body.

6. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water eliminates the toxins produced by the metabolism, through urine.

To maintain kidney function you have to drink about two liters (8 cups) a day. This amount may vary according to gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and lactation.

People who have already had an episode of kidney stones should drink more, at least 2-3 liters of fluids per day, to reduce the risk of formation of new stones.

The absolute best drink is water. Herbal tea is good (when not sweetened). Limit soft drinks instead, or fruit juices that contain sugars (and calories). In soft drinks are often found additives that can be harmful to the kidneys, such as phosphates or potassium.

Drinking is very important, especially for bodybuilders. Muscles are made of water, so it's clearly important to keep feeding our body with water.

Plenty of water makes you pee a lot, which helps get rid of lactic acid too. Drinking lots is also recommended if you supplement with creatine.

7. Do Not Smoke, or Quit Smoking

Smoking increases blood pressure and accelerates the aging of vessels, obstructing the circulation. If less blood reaches the kidneys, their ability to function properly is compromised.

In addition, smoking increases the risk of kidney cancer because the substances contained in tobacco are eliminated through the urine.

8. Avoid Regular Use of Drugs

I  talking of those that are not prescribed by your doctor, otherwise I am pretty sure you kinda have to take them to fix some other condition.

Some common medications such as analgesics may cause kidney damage if taken too frequently. Talk to your doctor before taking medications for headache, muscle and joint pain.


I want to remind you that there are no studies that link kidney diseases with too much protein consumption, but it is true that eating too much protein in our diet forces our kidneys to work very hard.

Proteins are very necessary to build muscle, and often bodybuilders need a greater protein intake to gain muscle and size, so I guess it depends what your goal is.

I supplement with whey protein because sometimes I can't even eat enough (good quality) protein with my diet.

Just think that whatever you eat forces the kidneys to expel some of it. And keep in mind that too much protein can cause more problems to those that suffer from diabetes.


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