In a previous article about “How To Use Whey Protein for Maximum Muscle Gain & Fat Loss”, someone asked if eating protein powder can cause kidney damage.
Well, I have a very interesting and true story about this and how my old business partner died of kidney failure and I’ll share it with you in just a minute.
Lastly, I’ll also reveal the REAL cause of kidney damage, so continue reading.
Clinical Studies About Protein & Kidney Damage
Let’s first get the clinical studies out of the way.
Eating a high-protein meal can raise the pressure inside the kidneys and cause them to filter more blood than usual.1,2 Thus, putting more stress on the kidneys.
Additionally, there is no clinical evidence that too much protein can damage the kidneys of healthy people. 3,4 Granted, the studies are only for a few months and the protein intake isn’t super high.
However, there is evidence that a high-protein diet can be harmful to people with kidney disease or kidney problems.5,6
So, as far as the clinical studies are concerned, you can eat as much protein as you’d like unless you have kidney disease.
Granted, clinical studies are nothing like the REAL world.
My Partner Died Of Kidney Failure
Around 2003, I had a very successful nutritional supplement business specific for athletes and bodybuilders. I had a business partner who was much older than me and at the time, someone I *thought* was also wiser and more knowledgeable.
I really looked up to him at the beginning of our partnership and friendship.
Unfortunately, over time, the longer I got to know him, the less I respected his decisions and views on health, fitness, and longevity.
One of them was the use of high-protein diets.
I remember him telling me that in order to really increase my muscle mass, while minimizing fat gain, I need to eat a lot more protein. He suggested a minimum of at least 2 grams per pound of body weight and it would be much better if I had 3 grams.
At that time, I was eating 1 gram per pound. Thus, I weighed about 200 lbs (91 kgs) and ate 200 grams of protein.
But he suggested I increase it to 400 grams and preferably 600 grams, daily to start seeing the real muscle-building benefits.
He himself, being very muscular and lean at 250 lbs, was eating almost 1000 grams of protein daily and said that was ONE of his “secrets”. Most of the protein is from fast-digesting Whey protein.
And so, I decided to give it a try because I trusted him.
After all, he was 7 inches shorter than me and yet, he had an extra 50+ lbs of muscle.
Over the next 3 months, I slowly increased my protein to eventually eating 600 grams daily. It was about 100 grams, 6x daily.
And because that’s just a lot of chewing, most of it was in fast-digesting whey protein.
The end result was I felt like crap. My pee was a dark color. I was always slow and sluggish. I didn’t gain any extra muscle and thus, I ended this experiment after 3 months.
So, why am I telling you this story, since the subject of today’s topic is “protein powder and kidney damage”?…
Well, this is because my old business partner died a few years later due to kidney failure. He, in fact, was on kidney dialysis for a few years before I guess things finally gave out.
Was this all because of the high-protein diet?…
No – I don’t think so.
I’m sure he was doing other things that were not good. He ended up being a liar anyway and that’s why I stopped working with him.
So who knows what else he was doing that could have caused his kidney damage and eventual failure.
BUT, I do think the high protein intake most definitely accelerated the process and added to the stress.
And over the years, I’ve known people having very high-protein diets – whole foods and powders – who do have elevated kidney numbers and liver enzymes.
So the bottom line is that people who have a lot of protein powders, also consume much higher amounts of protein since it’s easier to drink 50 grams of protein than to eat.
And YES, I do believe it can cause undue stress on your kidneys and eventually, cause damage.
I suggest you eat NO more than 1 gram of protein, per pound of body weight, and that can be a mix of whole food and powders – including even some good vegetable protein sources.
I also suggest cycling your protein intake and I’ve made an article about this, “Eat NO Protein To Gain MORE Muscle”.
The REAL Cause of Kidney Damage
The truth is that a much bigger cause of kidney damage is NOT protein, but blood pressure.
Which, unfortunately, many people have and they don’t even know it.
And the older you are, the higher your blood pressure is due to the negative changes in your hormones because of aging.
Also, anyone who doesn’t sleep well is under daily stress and also takes stimulants -including caffeine – typically has blood pressure problems through various parts of the day.
Heck, even I’ve had mild blood pressure problems in the past 3-4 years and that’s why I’ve been taking Blood Pressure Optimizer for a few years to keep my blood pressure in the normal, healthy range.
Within a month, my energy levels improved, as did my sleep and of course, my blood pressure and also kidney function, when I’ve done a blood test.
So, if you have blood pressure problems or are concerned about kidney function, monitor your blood pressure daily and use natural herbs and vitamins.