Protein Shakes and Kidney Damage…….

I recently made a trip to the dialysis unit at a hospital in Brisbane to visit my Dad who is now on dialysis for his kidneys that are no longer working. My Dad is now 86 years young and his kidney damage was due to analgesics use over many years of suffering chronic pain. For those Aussies (Australians) who remember the 1960’s it was common for everyone to get up and start their day with a “BEX” which over many years is responsible for so much kidney damage. While the instances of this damage are now not so common, what is common is that Kidney disease is on the increase for other reasons.  I was fascinated to talk to the highly skilled nursing staff that enlightened me the new era of those afflicted by kidney disease. While diabetes is still the highest cause (along with prescription drugs and over use of analgesics) we now see a new generation of young people who are the gym junkies over dosing on “PROTEIN SHAKES”

We are still over dosing on protein and consume far in excess of what we need. In 2002 The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) researchers found that a diet high in protein silently caused dehydration in endurance athletes, individuals whose training gave them a greater capacity to adapt to dehydration than the average person. William Forrest Martin, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Rodriguez, University of Connecticut, reported a unique study comparing the hydration status of five endurance athletes as they consumed low, moderate, and high amounts of protein for four weeks at each level. Adjusted for weight, based on a 150 pound individual, the daily protein intake was 68 grams daily for the low protein diet, 123 grams for the moderate protein diet, and 246 for the high protein diet. Although these athletes were not trying to lose weight, the high protein diet they consumed was roughly 30 percent of total caloric intake, proportionally comparable to many popular high protein diets.

As the amount of protein consumed went up, the degree of hydration progressively went down. During the period in which athletes were consuming the highest amounts of protein, their blood urea nitrogen (BUN) – a clinical test for proper kidney function – reached abnormal ranges. Other tests indicated that the high protein diet caused the kidney to produce more concentrated urine. The researchers believe the bottom line is clear for athletes and non-athletes alike: when consuming high protein diets, increase your fluid intake, whether you feel as if you need to or not. The athletes in this study reported no difference in how thirsty they felt and consequently they did not drink more liquid from the low to high protein diets. Athletes or extremely active people may also want to monitor hydration status.

In fact, say the researchers, you might want to drink more water regardless of your diet. It has been estimated that three of every four Americans are chronically dehydrated, placing themselves at increased risk for heat illness and other health problems. As little as a two to three percent decrease in body water has been found to negatively affect performance, kidney damage and cardiovascular function. So…No!!!!!, Carbohydrates are not fattening. Neither is protein, nor fat, for that matter. Eating more total Calories than you burn is fattening. It doesn’t matter if those excess Calories come from carbohydrate, protein or fat. Although, if you look at the physiology behind metabolism, one could argue that excess carbohydrate Calories are less fattening than excess fat Calories because it requires more energy to convert carbohydrates into stored body fat. Excess fat Calories can be stored as body fat rather easily. So ease up on the protein food and protein shakes and drink more water.

John Hart
“Master’s In Education” (Disability) Newcastle University Australia
“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia
“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”

“Diploma Sport /Recreation”
“Cert 4 Personal Training”
“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”


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