Healthy Eating

Here you will find tons of information about healthy eating and incorporating the principles of healthy nutrition into your daily life. Built around Dr. Cederquist’s nutritional foundation for healthy weight loss, these articles place a wealth of information right at your fingertips.

What Happens When You Eat Too Much Protein

Protein's intake is absolutely imperative to the body system, as it composes a large portion of body structure. Beyond the idea of growing large muscles, protein is vital for maintenance and repair of virtually all body tissues. With such critical processes, could you possibly eat too much protein?


Protein is one of the three primary macronutrients, along with carbohydrate and fat. Its intake is absolutely imperative to the body system, as it composes a large portion of body structure. Beyond the idea of growing large muscles, protein is vital for growth, maintenance, and repair of virtually all body tissues. With such critical processes carried out in the presence of the macronutrient, could you possibly eat too much protein?

What Happens When You Eat Too Much Protein?

Though eating protein is an important part of a balanced diet, more does not necessarily translate to better. When the body receives too much protein, a series of physiological events may occur. Initial, short-term side effects of a high-protein diet may result to increased satiety and accelerated weight loss, seeming like excellent perks for hopping on the protein wagon, right? Symptoms of too much protein, especially in the longer-run, may suggest otherwise and potentially lead to...

...Mood Slump.

Following a high-protein diet may leave you feeling quite sleepy, cranky, and grumpy. Carbohydrate is the body's primary fuel source and largely energizes the brain following its intake. When carb is absent, especially in the initial stages, energy is compromised and plummeted as the body transitions into a state of ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat for fuel. Though ketosis may result to weight loss, carb sources are also valuable in stimulating the production of serotonin, also known as the "feel good" hormone.

...Weight Gain.

First off, to best understand what happens when you consume too much protein, it is worthwhile to consider the body's natural physiology and metabolism processes. After food is ingested, it travels down the gastrointestinal tract and may be used for immediate energy. But if calorie consumption exceeds calories burned, despite the caloric source, energy is likely to be stored and progress to weight gain.

...Nutritional Deficiencies.

Filling the diet with a high quantity of protein largely leaves little room for other food groups and nutritional sources. Protein is naturally absent of fiber, a plant component encouraged for digestive and heart health. The vitamins and minerals from whole grains and fresh produce and the healthy fats from nuts and seeds may become deficient if their intake is reduced, cascading signs and symptoms such as energy loss, dry skin and hair, and a compromised immune system.

...GI Upset.

Further aligning with lessened fiber intake, a high-protein diet may leave you feeling constipated, bloated, and gassy. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract largely relies on fiber to promote regularity, mostly from complex carbohydrate sources - whole grains, fruits, veggies, and beans. And unless the protein source is breaded and battered (additionally packing on calories and potentially fried in oil), fiber content is virtually absent. Men are encouraged to obtain 38 grams of fiber each day while women are encouraged to consume 25 grams.

...Kidney Damage.

Especially in the long-run, a high-protein diet may cause kidney damage. The kidneys are responsible to excrete the byproducts following protein digestion, particularly in the form of nitrogen. If consuming too much protein, the kidneys may not be able to keep up with the excretion demand and cause nitrogen to build-up, which may cause kidney damage or disease overtime. Additionally, the risk of liver damage is also increased following a high-protein diet.

Meaty Considerations

In general, the average adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Though protein needs vary based on gender, age, activity level, and bodyweight, recommendations indicate males consume 56 grams and females consume 46 grams of protein a day, at the minimum. Further consideration of protein lies not only within the amount, but the source. With the vast majority of protein sources being animal-based, such products may carry on additional calories from fat, especially in the form of saturated fat. Diets rich in saturated fats are suggested to increase not only weight, but associated to heart disease. Aligning with the risk of kidney damage, monitoring protein consumption is extremely critical in certain disease states, including diagnosed kidney disease.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on December 15, 2016. Updated on September 28, 2019.


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