High-protein diets are all the rage right now. Protein does tons for your body, including helping to repair your muscles when they tear during exercise and supporting bone health and hormone production. What’s more, high-protein diets have been known to help women shed stubborn weight. “It’s a hot macronutrient because it really does help you feel more full, which is what makes high-protein diets pretty effective for weight loss. The way protein is metabolized even increases your metabolism a little bit when you eat it,” says nutritionist Christy Brisette, the founder and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition.
But don’t get carried away: There may be health risks associated with having TOO much protein over a long period of time. Some research has shown that people on high-protein diets that are rich in red meats have higher levels of uric acid in their blood, which increases the risk of gout—a condition causing painful joint inflammation. A high-protein diet that’s also high in red meat has been linked to increased risk of colon cancer, according to the World Health Organization, as well as kidney disease, according to one large 2016 study. And Brisette says people on high-protein diets may be more likely to be deficient in calcium and vitamin D, which increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
You need at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with very active people needing in the range of 1.2 to 1.8 grams per kilogram. At the very most, Brisette says, you should get two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (that’s about 118 grams of protein for a 130-pound person). “If you get more, you don’t see benefits and there could be risks,” she says.
Think your protein intake could be making you feel bad? Here are a few symptoms your high-protein diet isn’t working for you: