Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Research Center

What About Weight Loss and Protein Levels?

03/01/2010

Question:

I am a woman in her late fifties who has tried about every type of weight loss program. My last attempt, I hope, is a program that has a high concentration of proteins, including protein supplements. My physician is concerned because the last two UA tests show a high concentration of protein. I am increasing my fluid intake. Will this help? Am I putting my health in jeopardy?

Answer:

Research studies have shown that weight loss diets that are higher in protein may have beneficial effects on weight loss and maintenance of muscle mass. In addition, weight loss is associated with improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood lipids. However, there is concern about the impact of chronic intake of high protein diets on renal (kidney) health, since the kidneys must work "overtime" to process the waste from breaking down protein. Although consuming adequate fluids is wise, it may not prevent renal damage if protein levels are excessively high or if you are at risk for poor renal health.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10% to 35% of your total caloric intake should be derived from protein. However, many professional organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association recommend no more than 20% of your total calories from protein until the long-term effects of high protein intake on renal health are known. 

The extent of potential harm from high protein diets relates to the current health of your kidneys and the amount of protein in your diet. Therefore, you should consult with your health care professional about the amount of protein that you are consuming from your diet and your supplements. It is possible that you are exceeding the recommended levels. Since weight loss is achievable with calorie-restricted diets that are moderate in protein (20% of total calorie intake), you may consider this type of diet to be a healthier choice.

For more information:

Go to the Research Center health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati