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While high-protein consumption—above the current recommended dietary allowance for adults is increasing in popularity, there is a lack of data on its potential long-term adverse effects.
Until 2013 when studies were completed looking at the effects of a high-protein or high-meat diet. What they found with long-term high protein/high meat intake in humans were (a) disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, (b) disorders of renal function, (c) increased cancer risk, (d) disorders of liver function, and (e) precipitated progression of coronary artery disease.
The present study’s findings suggest that there is currently no reasonable scientific basis in the literature to recommend protein consumption above the current RDA (high protein diet) for healthy adults due to its potential disease risks.
- Disorders of Bone and Calcium Homeostasis
- Disorders of Renal Function/kidney stones
- Increased Cancer Risk
- Disorders of Liver Function
- Precipitated Progression of Coronary Artery Disease
Despite the fact that a short-term high-protein diet could be necessary for several pathological conditions (malnutrition, sarcopenia, etc.), it is evident that “too much of a good thing” in a diet could be useless or even harmful for healthy individuals. Many adults or even adolescents (especially athletes or bodybuilders) self-prescribe protein supplements and overlook the risks of using them, mainly due to misguided beliefs in their performance-enhancing abilities.
Individuals who follow these diets are, therefore, at risk. Extra protein is not used efficiently by the body and may impose a metabolic burden on the bones, kidneys, and liver. Moreover, high-protein/high-meat diets may also be associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease due to intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol or even cancer. Guidelines for diet should adhere closely to what has been clinically proven. By this standard, there is currently no basis for recommending high protein/high meat intake above the recommended dietary allowance for healthy adults.
Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Adults