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12 Risks And Side Effects Of High Protein Diet You Should Know


Diets like Zone and Atkins became popular in the 1990s, and high-protein diets are returning. The macronutrient ratios of diets like the Caveman or Paleo diet might vary, but they are usually heavy in protein.

However, protein can be a significant component of a keto diet along with a fat component. Therefore, one must consume adequate protein daily to maintain a healthy weight.

You can strengthen and heal your body by using this substance. It has also been found that a high-protein diet can help you lose weight and keep the weight off while enhancing satiety.

On the other hand, one should consider that high-protein diets have been linked to several hazards. Consumption should not be above the daily maximum, as nutritionists recommend.

For this very reason, in this article, we will talk about the side effects of a high protein diet, 

Risk And Side Effects Of High Protein Diet

Risks And Side Effects Of A High Protein Diet

When followed for only a short period, a high-protein diet plan might not be hazardous to the majority of otherwise healthy individuals. By increasing your sense of satiety, such diets may aid in weight loss.

However, dairy products with full-fat and red meat are common components of high-protein diets, both of which may raise your risk of protein poisoning.

As a result of your body’s inability to properly eliminate all the protein metabolism’s waste products, a high-protein diet may deteriorate renal function in those who already suffer from it.

The following is a list of some of the potential dangers and negative effects of a high-protein diet.

  1. Higher Risk Of Cancer

    A higher risk of cancer has been related to high-protein diets, particularly those containing a lot of red meat, according to research done on the subject.

    Increased risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers can be traced back to a diet high in red and processed meats. As a result, dietary protein from non-animal sources has been linked to a lower risk of cancer.

    Hormones, carcinogenic chemicals, and lipids in meat are thought to be contributing factors, according to researchers[1].

  2. May Cause Cardiovascular Diseases

    Our diet plan plays an important role in our heart health. In this world, we are fighting several risky and life-taking diseases related to the heart.

    Diets like dairy products or red meat are full of protein and if you take these diets at a more than usual capacity, it may affect your heart badly.

    This can be associated with a large intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. One study[2] revealed that eating red meat in large quantities may increase the risk of Coronary heart disease in women.

    If you have this disease, try to add fish or nuts to lower the risk. Many experts recommend not consuming red meat for a long time. It can increase trimethylamine N-oxide, which is also known as TMAO.

    It is a type of gut-generated substance that is associated with heart disease. If you are suffering from this, you can reduce the consumption of red meat.

  3. May Cause Gastrointestinal Problems

    Whenever you take protein in high amounts, it will decrease the intake of fiber. Low levels of fiber in the body cause diseases that affect the digestive system of our body.

    Fibers help in cleaning[3] our digestive system, so you need to avoid excessive amounts of protein in your diet.

    A significant amount of the “bulk” detected in the stool comes from carbohydrate-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, and grains that contain high amounts of dietary fiber that goes through transit undigested.

  4. May Increase Body Weight

    People suffering from being overweight have become very common and that is one of the major health concerns in today’s world. They consume protein to get rid of unnecessary weight.

    However, consuming protein in large amounts[4] can convert all your protein into fat. This excess amount of fat can increase your weight drastically.

    What happens is we consume a high amount of calories during protein intake in large amounts. A study in 2016[5] found that weight gain may be associated with diets where protein switches to carbohydrates but not when it gets replaced with fat.

  5. May Cause Fatigue

    Our body uses carbs as the main source[6] of energy but cutting down on carbs during weight loss could lead to weakness. The rapid release of energy from carbs makes it an important part of athletes’ meals.

    Remember that feeding your body with an excess amount of protein can decrease the carbs and in return, it boosts the fat consumption, which may lower[7] the glycogen level.

    When you reduce carbs, you may avoid more extreme exhaustion by adjusting your diet accordingly.

  6. Foul Breath

    Bad breath is something that everyone tries to avoid. It can leave you embarrassed in public. Excess protein is one of the reasons behind bad breath.

    Cutting down on carb intake and increasing the protein amount can cause bad breath. When your body has a shortage of carbs, it goes into a ketosis state where it develops energy from other sources.

    According to this article[8], this process generates the production of chemicals that cause bad and unpleasant smells.

  7. May Cause Brain Fogging

    Just like physical health, people also need to care about mental health. Diet plays an important role in keeping our brains healthy and productive.

    It has been reported that the consumption of protein in high amounts has created fogging and dizziness in the human brain. Proteins in large quantities decrease the carb intake.

    Low carbs aren’t good for the brain as sugar gets low and it causes our brain to get less “fuel”. Carbs are essential for mental health[9] and not getting enough may impact concentration levels.

  8. May Dehydrate Your Body

    According to a 2003 study[10], increasing the amount of protein consumed can lower one’s water intake. To remove excess nitrogenous and protein waste from metabolizing proteins, the kidneys have to work harder.

    It was revealed that people who take protein in large and excess amounts may have high chances of dehydration.

    Eventually, this will cause you to urinate excessively, making you more thirsty, and in the long term, it can also harm your kidneys.

  9. Could Raise The Metal Content In Your Blood

    High-protein diets often incorporate protein powder as a mainstay, with most people taking in at least two servings a day.

    The study[11] by the Clean Label Project confirmed that protein powders were tested for toxins and it turned out that they were contaminated with heavy metals.

    This contamination could result in brain and organ damage and other serious health damage.

  10. May Harm Your Kidney

    Whenever we eat any food, it always affects several organs, especially our kidneys. We know how important it is to eat a diet that suits our bodies.

    Protein makes our kidneys healthy, but at the same time, eating it in excessive amounts[12] can do some serious damage. Nitrogen present in the amino acids originates from excess protein.

    If our kidneys receive extra nitrogen and waste products, they have to do more work to eliminate this unnecessary product of protein metabolism.

    That could increase the risk of kidney stones and other health complications. Hence, it is better to consume protein in a moderate amount.

  11. May Make You Sick More Often

    If you’re consuming too much protein, you’re probably not eating other foods that contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that assist to protect your immune system and battle disease.

    This could lead to an impaired host immune system, with a particularly harmful effect on the T-cell system that develops from the stem cells present in the bone marrow.

    This could lead to an increased risk of infection and increased morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients.

  12. May Cause A Nutritional Deficit

    A meal that is very high in protein has a chance of lacking[13] other nutritive components. Experts suggest consuming a balanced and healthy diet plan by adding carbs and healthy fats.

    Doing this will help your body to avoid nutritional diseases. In some rare cases, our body can get flooded with protein that doesn’t get utilized.

    That can cause a metabolic strain on bones, kidneys, and liver. Some of your diets can unknowingly cut down the key nutrients from your meals.

Do We Need Proteins In Our Body?

Protein is a nutrient that your body requires[14] to function properly and be healthy. Organs, muscles, tissues, bones, and hair all include more than 10,000 different types.

Protein also plays a vital role in the processes that feed your energy and transport oxygen throughout your blood.

It aids in the production of antibodies that can fight off disease, as well as in the growth and maintenance of healthy cells.

Body Requirement Of Protein

Your weight, age, body composition objectives, physical activity, and body health all play a role in how much protein your body needs. 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is the RDA for protein, says the research[15]

This is the very minimum for most people to avoid muscle loss, meet their amino acid needs, and keep their nitrogen balance in check.

If one is just starting with a daily exercise routine or is a seasoned bodybuilder, they might require substantially greater protein intakes than the RDA.

Many professional organizations recommend 0.54–0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.2–2 grams per kg) of body weight per day.

Athletes’ needs may be considerably greater. Several groups require more protein than the general population: pregnant women, the elderly, and those with particular health issues.

Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?

In short, the answer is yes, too much protein intake is indeed harmful to our health. For example, people who consume protein in excess have a greater chance[16] of getting kidney stones.

High protein food like red meat can raise the risk of heart disease and colon tumors.


You’ll have enough energy and nutritive value to go through the day if you follow a diet that’s right for you. As long as this high-protein eating regimen results in an active body and an invigorated mind, it might be considered beneficial.

For those with specific health concerns, a high-protein diet can have beneficial effects, but it may not be appropriate for everyone. Consider consulting with a doctor or nutritionist before making any major changes to your diet.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. 6 Protein Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK216648/
  2. Renata Micha, Georgios Michas, and Dariush Mozaffarian Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes – An Updated Review of the Evidence Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2012 Dec; 14(6): 515–524.doi: 10.1007/s11883-012-0282-8
  3. Maurane Rollet, Torsten Bohn, Farhad Vahid, et al. Association between Dietary Factors and Constipation in Adults Living in Luxembourg and Taking Part in the ORISCAV-LUX 2 Survey Nutrients. 2022 Jan; 14(1): 122.Published online 2021 Dec 28. doi: 10.3390/nu14010122
  4. A Astrup, A Raben, and N Geiker The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 May; 39(5): 721–726.Published online 2015 Jan 20.Prepublished online 2014 Dec 26. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.216
  5. Pablo Hernández-Alonso, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Miguel Ruiz-Canela, et al. High dietary protein intake is associated with an increased body weight and total death risk Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;35(2):496-506. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.03.016. Epub 2015 Apr 7. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25886710/
  6. Eric R Helms, Caryn Zinn, David S Rowlands, et al. High-protein, low-fat, short-term diet results in less stress and fatigue than moderate-protein moderate-fat diet during weight loss in male weightlifters: a pilot study Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Apr;25(2):163-70. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2014-0056. Epub 2014 Jul 14. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25028958/
  7. Antonio W. Gomes Neto, Karin Boslooper-Meulenbelt, Marit Geelink, et al. Protein Intake, Fatigue and Quality of Life in Stable Outpatient Kidney Transplant Recipients Nutrients. 2020 Aug; 12(8): 2451.Published online 2020 Aug 14. doi: 10.3390/nu12082451
  8. Halitosis or bad breath Reviewed on: 31-08-2012 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/halitosis-or-bad-breath
  9. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, et al. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82.doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.42391
  10. U Keller, G Szinnai, S Bilz, et al. Effects of changes in hydration on protein, glucose and lipid metabolism in man: impact on health Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;57 Suppl 2:S69-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601904. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14681716/
  11. Suren B. Bandara, Kevin M. Towle, and Andrew D. Monnot A human health risk assessment of heavy metal ingestion among consumers of protein powder supplements Toxicol Rep. 2020; 7: 1255–1262.Published online 2020 Aug 21. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2020.08.001
  12. Gang-Jee Ko, Connie M Rhee, Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, et al. The Effects of High-Protein Diets on Kidney Health and Longevity J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020 Aug;31(8):1667-1679. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2020010028. Epub 2020 Jul 15. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32669325/
  13. Protein Reviewed on: 13-01-2022 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein
  14. Protein in diet Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm
  15. Guoyao Wu Dietary protein intake and human health Food Funct. 2016 Mar;7(3):1251-65. doi: 10.1039/c5fo01530h. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26797090/
  16. Scott Gottlieb High protein diet brings risk of kidney stones BMJ. 2002 Aug 24; 325(7361): 408.

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