Oh fad diets — they can be tempting to try, but can also be awful sometimes. There are so many out there, but one of longest-lasting trends is probably that of the high-protein, low-carb diet. However, did you know you can overdo it? Consider some signs you’re eating too much protein, and you might realize consuming more than the recommended amount of protein — especially over long periods of time — can be detrimental to your body in various ways.
Let’s begin with this: How much protein should we actually be consuming? According to The National Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, adults should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight — this equals 8 grams per 20 pounds, said LIVESTRONG. More simply, about 10 to 35 percent of your total calories consumed each day should be from protein.
High protein diets have actually been pretty successful in helping people lose weight, so those beginning a weight loss journey might find that appealing. However, remember that being healthy is always more important than losing weight. And there are, in fact, health risks associated with increasing the amount of protein to higher-than-recommended levels. Let’s say you’re someone who is trying to bulk up on muscle mass and want a little direction on how to handle the need to get a great deal of protein you’re your diet. For you folks, sites like BodyBuilding.com offer some great insight into how to achieve the perfect amount of protein. For the rest of us, let’s try to keep it in the recommended daily allowance, and consult our doctors before making any dietary changes that involve increasing protein. Here are seven signs you’re eating too much protein.
1. Your Cholesterol Levels Are Slowly Rising
The last time you went to get blood work done, your doctor commended you on your pristine cholesterol levels. This go-around, though, the levels have spiked significantly. What gives? According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it could very well have to do with the amount of protein you’re eating, for one. The outlet noted many high-protein foods contain a ton of cholesterol (which in turn can lead to serious medical problems like heart attack and stroke). The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s guidelines say we should not be getting more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day if we want to remain healthy, and so watch the amount of it you’re consuming via those protein sources like steak and roasted chicken, San Francisco Chronicle said.
2. You’re Gaining Weight For Seemingly No Reason
You haven’t been indulging in sweets, salty snacks, or fried foods, and you're working out regularly, yet your weight seems to be creeping higher and you can’t figure it out. The reason behind it could very well be that you’re eating too much protein. Yes, I said earlier that weight loss can also be associated with high-protein diets, but if you're not doing the "diet," per se, and are accidentally incorporating a lot of proteins in addition to your regular foods consumed, here may come trouble. According to LIVESTRONG, eating more protein than you actually need in your diet comes along with excess calories, and therefore unwanted weight gain over time.
3. You’re Experiencing Kidney Problems
According to a 2012 study from the American Journal of Kidney Disease, following a high-protein diet over a long period of time may lead to kidney disease. Why? MedicineNet.com said if you’re eating too much protein — particularly when you limit carb consumption, too — it can lead to buildup of ketones (this happens because our bodies are now using fat instead of carbohydrates for energy). These ketones can be directly harmful to the kidneys.
4. You’re Regularly Dehydrated
So, we’re amped up on way too many proteins and far too little carbs, and now we have those toxic ketones that were produced because of our body was lacking the necessary carbohydrates. Our kidneys are hurting — both figuratively and literally. During the difficult process of excreting the ketones, there is a loss of water through the kidneys, according to MedicineNet.com. This leads to overall dehydration for the body. This type of dehydration, therefore, is a directly effect of too much protein in the diet.
5. Your Breath Smells Horrible
Something I personally dread… halitosis — or more commonly known as bad breath. Bad breath is something that’s often accompanied by high-protein, low-carb diets. Those ketones are to blame.
Kenneth Burrell, DDS, told WebMD, “Carbohydrates aren't readily available, so you start to use other fats and proteins as your source of energy, and as a result you are going to get a breath problem.” He added, “… all the brushing, flossing, and scraping of the tongue that you can do is not possibly enough to overcome this.” Ick. If you’re noticing this is a problem for you and think your protein consumption is to blame, scale back and get some more carbs in you.
6. You’re Suffering From Osteoporosis
According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, diets that contain a lot of animal protein cause our bodies to excrete more calcium than normal through the kidneys. This, in turn, increases the risk of osteoporosis, the outlet noted. (For those who don’t know, osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, according to the Mayo Clinic.)
7. Your Body Temperature Is Way Down
Your liver is another organ that can see some negative effects of consuming too much protein, especially when someone drastically increases their protein intake in a quick period of time, according to LIVESTRONG. Here’s a quick explanation: When our bodies take in too much protein, the liver has to work overtime to maintain an equilibrium of nitrogen in the body while converting the protein to amino acids, LIVESTRONG noted. During this process, if things get off balance, our bodies can become overly acidic. If this happens you’ll begin to notice a decrease in body temperature. Some others symptoms of an overly acidic body, according to LIVESTRONG, are headaches, paleness, and inflamed eyelids, just to name a few.
Protein is a necessary component of our diet, but as discussed here, we should be mindful not to consume too much of it regularly. If any of these signs seem familiar to you, it might be time to cut back. As with any other dietary changes, if you’re tempted to start a high-protein, low-carb diet, consult with your doctor first for specifics on how to go about doing it in a safe and healthy manner.