Protein and Weight Gain

 Protein is the subject of many myths. The bottom line on protein is this: High-protein diets are dangerous. Many formula diets emphasize high-protein foods and contain very little carbohydrates. This type of diet is not a formula for success. It can cause a rapid, and usually temporary, water loss. But usually the weight comes back on very quickly.

In addition, there are serious dangers to high protein diets: osteoporosis and kidney disease.


High protein diets cause calcium to be lost in the urine. This has been shown repeatedly in scientific studies. When people consume foods that are overly high in protein, especially animal protein, they excrete calcium. Since Americans tend to eat meat daily, it is likely that they are routinely excreting calcium. The calcium does not come from the meat. It comes from your bones. The amino acids which make up protein and are released when protein is digested make the blood slightly acidic. In the process of buffering this acid, calcium is pulled from the bones. Ultimately it is discarded in the urine. Meat protein is also very high in sulfur-containing amino acids. These are suspected of being particularly likely to leach calcium form the bones.


We’ve all been groomed to make sure we get enough protein, the fact is we have gotten too much. Our bodies only need a fraction of what we generally get. When we eat two or three times the amount of protein the body can use, much of it is broken down and excreted. In the process, it not only interferes with the calcium balance of the body, it can also overwork the kidneys. The excess of amino acids eventually breakdown to urea, which acts as a diuretic, too. The overall effect is to force the kidneys to work much harder than they should. The nephrons, which are the kidneys’ filter units, gradually die off in the process.

Good Protein Sources

We need protein in the diet, but we do not need a large overdose of protein. The problems of calcium loss and kidney damage occur, not just in those who consume high-protein formulas, but in people who consume meat, chicken, or fish on a regular basis.

The best advice about protein is to stick to plant sources. A varied menu of grains, beans, and vegetables contains more than enough protein for human needs. Any variety of plant food provides sufficient protein. When meats are included, the protein content easily becomes more than the body can handle safely.


If you were to have a single seven-ounce serving of roast beef, you would get 62 grams of protein. This one serving is more than the recommended daily allowance of protein for a whole day, unless you’re pregnant or nursing.

Of the calories of an egg white, fully 85% are from protein. That is a huge amount that no one needs.

Because of the high saturated content of whole milk, many people have chosen skim dairy products. Getting rid of the dietary fat is certainly a good idea, because the fat in whole milk, butter, cheese, cram, and ice cream will tend to increase cholesterol levels and elevate cancer risk. But after the fat is removed, skim milk is hardly a health food. It contains no fiber, and no complex carbohydrates, but it has a substantial amount of lactose sugar. Antibiotics are also frequently present in milk products, due to their routine use on farms.

If you thought you needed milk for strong bones, you have been the victim of an extremely aggressive advertising program by the dairy industry which was not based on good science. The fact is that people in countries which consume milk routinely tend to have weaker bones than those in countries which avoid milk.

Osteoporosis is more likely due to excess protein in the diet and to sedentary living. It is not due to ‘milk deficiency” and milk consumption does not slow osteoporosis that commonly occurs in older women.

There are also concerns about the type of protein in milk. Milk proteins often cause allergies and other health problems. There are indications that milk proteins contribute to Type I diabetes (juvenile-onset), and specialized cow proteins (antibodies) are known to cause colic in infants.

When there is an allergic reaction or intolerance to a substance in our body, we tend to gain weight. Our digestive system becomes sluggish less efficient. Then everything we eat will be a factor in our weight problems.

There is no need to worry about protein in our diet if we are eating a balanced diet filled with vegetables, beans, and legumes. There is a need to be concerned about protein if we overeat animal protein sources.



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