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Can Too Much Protein Cause Inflammation?

Too much protein can hurt your body in more ways than one. Learn how it increases your risk of inflammation below.

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In this article:

  1. How Much Protein Is Too Much Per Day?
  2. What Does the Body Do with Too Much Protein?
  3. Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?
    1. Intestinal Inflammation
    2. Obesity
    3. Gout and Joint Pain
  4. Will Too Much Protein Hurt Your Kidneys?
  5. Why Is Too Much Protein Bad for Diabetics?
  6. Why Is Too Much Protein Powder Bad?

Know How Too Much Protein in a Diet Hurts with These FAQs

How Much Protein Is Too Much Per Day?

To be clear, protein is not the enemy — too much protein is. Proteins are macronutrients, which means the body needs them in significant amounts.

Protein helps build muscles and repair the worn-out ones. The body also uses them to create enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals for metabolism and human survival.

Many parts of the body such as the hair and the nails are protein-based, so you can just imagine what happens to you if you don’t have enough of it.

The problem is you consume more protein than what your body needs. So, how much is too much protein anyway?

It depends on many factors such as lifestyle, age, and weight. For example, the average daily protein requirement is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.

If you want to increase muscle size, you may need to boost protein intake a bit. If you are sedentary, you may need less.

Some experts also advise consuming 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight. You get the kilo equivalent by dividing 2.2 to your pound weight.

Here’s a sample computation:

Thus, for the common question “Is 60 grams of protein a day too much?,” the answer is, it depends.

What Does the Body Do with Too Much Protein?

A woman smiles while working out in a gym.

The body uses proteins in specific ways. For instance, it “extracts” amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, for a variety of cellular functions.

Besides the muscles, other body parts or systems also utilize the protein. These include the brain and the heart.

What happens when you eat too much protein? Where does it go?

When you eat too much protein in a single seating, the body can store it in the stomach for future use. In other words, it functions as reserves.

When you are critically low in sugar or carbohydrates, you don’t have enough energy source. The body may then convert this protein into glucose.

Proteins also have calories (about 4 calories per gram of protein), and it can provide you with energy and fullness.

Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?

Anything excessive can be dangerous and having more than enough protein is not an exception. The effects of too much protein are wide-ranging, but they boil down to one thing: inflammation.

Let’s analyze each one of them:

1. Intestinal Inflammation

A woman sitting down experiences chest pain.

The small intestine is responsible for metabolizing proteins, among others. It, therefore, means it can interact with different microorganisms there and influence their diversity.

In particular, excessive consumption of animal-based proteins may alter the number of bacteria such as Alistipes putredinis. When it undergoes fermentation, it may release harmful chemicals.

These substances can include ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which can damage the lining of the gut over time. In turn, it leads to bowel-related inflammatory diseases and even a leaky gut.

What is a bowel inflammatory disease? It is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the different parts of the intestines.

2. Obesity

Obesity is a complex problem because it’s not as simple as achieving a calorie deficit. Many factors can affect your risk of weight gain.

One thing is clear, though: obesity can promote inflammation in different parts of the body such as the heart and the joints.

Now, can too much protein make you fat? The answer is both yes and no. In the short-term, it may result in weight loss.

In certain instances, the opposite may occur. In this 2016 study, it may happen when you consume more protein as a substitute for carbohydrates.

The research also showed it may promote long-term weight gain and even premature death for people at risk of cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: 5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Add To Your Diet

3. Gout and Joint Pain

A man experiences pain in his knee.

Many people ask, “Can too much protein cause gout, or can too much protein cause joint pain?” The answer to both questions is yes.

Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when crystals lodge themselves in between the joints. These crystals, meanwhile, form when the body has high levels of uric acid.

Uric acid comes from the breakdown of purine, a naturally occurring substance in the body. You may also get it from certain types of food, especially red meat.

The body can remove uric acid through the kidneys, but some may eventually form into crystals. These are the ones that can lead to joint pain and gout.

Will Too Much Protein Hurt Your Kidneys?

This one is controversial as many people assume excessive protein can outright damage the kidneys. It turns out that it may not be the case all the time.

Excessive protein may be harmful to people who already have kidney disease or those at risk of such a condition. These may include individuals who have diabetes or hypertension.

Nevertheless, having too much protein in urine warrants a medical evaluation. It may indicate you have proteinuria, which means you are leaking abnormal amounts of protein into your urine.

It may suggest you have kidney disease. You may not know it yet since it usually doesn’t show symptoms in its earliest stages.

Why Is Too Much Protein Bad for Diabetics?

Contrary to popular belief, some studies showed that higher protein intake may be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes.

It becomes a problem when you are already showing symptoms for diabetic neuropathy. It is a condition wherein high levels of glucose damage your nerves.

Organs such as the kidneys can suffer from nerve damage. In this case, consuming excessive protein can do more harm than good.

Why Is Too Much Protein Powder Bad?

A man makes a protein shake in his kitchen.

Some people, especially those engaged in muscle building, increase their intake of protein powder, but it may not be always the best idea.

For one, many of these protein powders may have other ingredients such as additives and sugars. Some of them may even contain toxins that can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, among others.

Protein powders may also have ingredients such as soy, which may not be ideal for those with thyroid disease. Others may include milk products that are not ideal for people with lactose intolerance.

You still need protein, but you should consider getting it from food instead. For example, you can make smoothies out of green blends.

You can still eat meat, but you may want to limit your intake. Otherwise, pick the better option such as grass-fed beef over processed meats.

Is too much protein bad for you? Based on these FAQs, it is since it can lead to inflammation.

The good news is it’s something you can manage with proper diet and nutrition counseling. As you grow older or as your lifestyle changes, adjust your protein intake accordingly.

What are your favorite sources of protein? Let us know in the comments section below!

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