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Protein Is Not Necessarily Your Kidneys’ Nemesis

Healthy kidneys unfazed by high protein consumption, say researchers.

Eating more protein than your body needs won’t make you sprout more muscles, but it also seems unlikely to impair kidney functioning, according to research in the Journal of Nutrition. In a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous trials, Canadian researchers at McMaster University in Ontario and the University of Waterloo, Ontario, found no evidence that the glomerular filtration rate—an indicator of kidney function—is noticeably different among healthy adults who consume a higher-protein diet (1.5-plus grams per kilogram of body weight) than those who typically eat less. It’s long been assumed that eating more protein can threaten the kidneys because they’re tasked with eliminating waste resulting from protein metabolism, but it appears that healthy kidneys are up to the task. Those with kidney disease, however, should remain cautious and speak to their physicians about safe amounts of protein intake.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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