Protein Side Effects
A Guide to the Side Effects of Protein
Whether you are guzzling the powdered protein shakes or are a born meat lover, it is important to consider the side effects of protein. The human body is designed to use protein in many different functions. Protein helps to build and repair various tissues throughout the body, particularly muscle. It also regulates a person’s water levels, produces hormones and enzymes, and provides a huge boost to the immune system. As you might have guessed, the body also uses protein as a form of ready energy which can provide a much-needed boost to one’s stamina. It is obvious that we need protein, but it is possible to over-do it. Let’s take a look at some of the side effects of protein over-dose.
One of the concerns of following a high-protein diet is that one could put themselves at a greater risk of losing bone mass. The reason for this is that in order to break down protein, the body has to release a certain amount of acid. This acid is normally absorbed with the help of calcium. If one fails to get enough calcium through their diet, the body will be forced to pull calcium from the bones, thus making them weaker and more susceptible to injury or breakage. This is especially true in women who consume high protein diets because many women fail to take in the recommended daily allowance of calcium anyway, meaning that they are already likely to be deficient in calcium.
Our kidneys are responsible for filtering out the various substances that can be found in the blood. When too much of any kind of substance, be it protein, a vitamin, or medicine, the kidneys have to work a little harder than it normally would to filter these excess substances and flush them out of the body. Imagine one’s kidneys to be a sieve. A handful of flour tossed into the sieve will flow through without issue. Add a little more and the sieve might have a bit of trouble shaking the flour through, but still manages to do it. If you were to dump a bowl of flour into the sieve, it would simply fail to sift the flour on through. The kidneys work in a similar way if they have to filter too much of a substance through the blood. The excess stress of too much protein can cause the kidneys more work than they are designed to handle. (This is very similar to how alcohol poisoning occurs.)
Lack of B-Vitamins and Vitamin D
This is one of the little-known side effects of protein, but can be a real concern for someone who mostly consumes protein shakes and neglects a properly balanced diet. Much in the same way that calcium is necessary in order to process proteins, there are other vitamins which the body must use to break down and utilize protein. Some of these vitamins include Vitamin D, B2, B6, and folic acid. These are essential vitamins meaning that the body cannot produce them on their own—they can only be absorbed through one’s diet. If an excessive amount of protein is consumed and the body has to use every bit of these vitamins in order to process the protein, then there may not be enough vitamins left over for other processes in the body, such as regulation of the immune system, hormones, and metabolism.
Recommended Daily Amount
The recommended daily amount of protein that a person should consume really depends on their weight. The general rule is to figure about seven grams of protein for every 20 pounds that you weigh. So a person weighing 180 pounds should figure on eating about 63 grams of protein each day. The source of the protein is very important to consider because some high protein foods are also very high in fat and cholesterol which could lead to other dangerous side effects. Lean meat such as chicken, turkey, and fish are excellent sources of protein, as are legumes such as beans and lentils. Let’s not forget vegetables! Sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beetroot, mushrooms, and okra are just a few vegetables that are fairly high in protein but low in fat and sugar.