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You Ask, I Anwer: Excess Protein & Kidney Damage

minimallyinvasivediagramDoes excessive protein consumption damage the kidneys?

– Corey Clark
(Location unknown)

Yes and no.  Let me explain.

Individuals with healthy kidney function can safely consume up to 250 percent of their protein needs.

To figure out your protein needs, convert your weight to kilograms (divide your weight in pounds by 2.2) and then multiply that by 0.8.

The value you get from that equation is the amount of protein (in grams) your body needs on a daily basis.

If you multiply that by 2.5, you can determine how many grams of protein you can safely consume each day with no adverse effects on kidney function.

What makes the “protein is bad for the kidneys” issue confusing is that, at any given time, approximately ten to fifteen percent of U.S. adults are unknowingly living with beginning stages of reduced kidney function (the early stages of this condition do not manifest symptoms).

Individuals with compromised kidney function can make the situation significantly worse if they do not curb their intake of protein.

One of the best things you can do for kidney health is stay properly hydrated throughout the day.  Your urine should be colorless or, at most, a very pale yellow.  Darker shades are an indication you need to increase fluid intake (unless, of course, you are on any medications that may alter urine color).

Keep in mind, too, that hypertension and diabetes greatly increase the risk of developing reduced kidney function.

The best way to decrease your risk of developing hypertension and (type-2) diabetes?  Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active.

It can’t be stressed enough — once those two pieces fall, the domino effect on your health can get very, very ugly.



  1. Corey said on August 30th, 2009

    Thank you very much.

  2. boriskat said on August 31st, 2009

    Hi Andy,

    Can you address how much MORE protein you need if you work out like a maniac like I do? :-) I run or bike or do a cardio/strength class 2x a day usually 5-6 times a week. I do eat quite healthily (though sugar is my downfall), and sometimes I just flat-out CRAVE protein.

    Portland OR

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