If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, or watched TV ads, or read a magazine, you’ve noticed one of America’s favorite obsessions: the high-protein diet. Protein can help you “lose weight,” “gain muscle,” and “knock out those snack cravings” we’re told. What these advertisements and fitness gurus don’t tell you about are the negative side effects of eating too much protein.
1. You’ll feel super nauseated
When you eat too much protein, your digestive system just can’t keep up. The enzymes in your stomach then cause you to have indigestion and nausea. If you’ve ever eaten too many eggs in one sitting, you already know what I’m talking about. Slowing up on your protein intake should help this problem.
2. You’ll have stank breath
When you’re on low-carb, high-protein diets, your body is forced to use stored fat and protein for energy. While you’re thinking “that’s exactly why I’m on this diet,” this is making your body go into a process called ketosis. The ketones released during this process have a terrible smell and make your breath smell equally awful. No amount of brushing can make the smell go away, but adding carbs to your diet and doubling your water intake should help.
3. It can wreck your kidneys.
Nitrogen is an essential amino acid that makes up proteins. When excess protein is eaten, you’re also eating way too much nitrogen. This extra nitrogen causes your kidneys to work overtime trying to process it all out. This isn’t necessarily bad for you in the short run, but over time can lead to serious kidney damage.
4. You’re constantly hella thirsty
That extra nitrogen from eating too much protein also makes you unquenchably thirsty. Since nitrogen can be so toxic to the body, your kidneys use high amounts of water in order to flush it all out. This is an important aspect of anyone that continues on a high-protein diet (and anyone else, really) – drink lots and lots of water.
5. You’ll actually gain weight
While cutting carbs and upping protein works in the very beginning of your diet, over time the excess consumption of protein will make you gain more weight. Any time you eat more than the recommended amount, the excess is stored in your body as fat. Cutting out carbs can also lead to serious nutritional deficiencies and losing out on essential fiber.
6. You can increase your risk of heart disease
Here’s the scary one. A diet high in protein can also easily be high in fat. Animal proteins tend to have lots of saturated fats that can increase your risk of heart disease. A normal serving of animal protein, however, is not bad for you as it has lots of essential and healthy fats that are part of a balanced diet.
The important thing to remember is that protein is an essential aspect of any diet, but it is not recommended to eat more than 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. That means the average American should be eating around 60 grams of protein every day. My favorite 60 grams of protein? This spinach soufflé stuffed chicken breast.
Going high-protein, low-carb does have its initial weight loss results, but it also comes with major long term problems. If you continue to follow your high-protein ways remember to always drink plenty of water. The best diet to follow isn’t one where you cut an essential nutrient out. Always follow a well balanced diet of carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and, yes, protein.