With a lot of youngsters trying to ape Bollywood actors in the physique department, the use of protein supplements has certainly seen a rise in recent years. While it isn’t a bad thing, as you need a certain amount of protein to help repair muscles, too much of it can spell doom for your kidney.

We spoke to Dr. Alan Almeida, Consultant Nephrology at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar to shed more light on the issue.

Bodybuilders are advised to have 2 grams of protein for every kg of their bodyweight. Is this ratio safe? 

The recommended protein intake for bodybuilders is about 2 grams per kg of their weight. This is employed in an attempt to increase lean body muscle mass and lose fat. The high protein is unlikely to cause a problem in an individual with normal kidney function. The calories that should be coming from proteins are in the range of 10-35%.

What are some symptoms that could indicate that a person is taking too much protein and damaging his kidney? 

High protein diets could cause bad breath, headache and constipation especially when dietary fiber intake is limited. The individual who has an unsuspected reduced kidney function and had high protein intake, would have manifestations of decreased function, viz. nausea, edema (an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitium, located beneath the skin and in the cavities of the body, which can cause severe pain. Clinically, edema manifests as swelling) elevated creatinine (muscle ingestion) levels and proteinuria (hyperfiltration induced by protein intake).

What should be the maximum amount of protein that one should consume per day? 

The maximum amount of protein in an adult to both gain and maintain muscle mass and function is 1.0-1.2 g/kg. Adequate protein intake would be about 0.8g/kg.

Is it unsafe to go on a low-carb, high protein diet? Why so? 

The use of low-carb, high protein diets (ketosis diets) could be unsafe. The diet could predispose to constipation, headache, bad breath, muscle cramps, high cholesterol and risk for coronary artery disease, increased urinary calcium excretion, nephrolithiasis (stone disease).

What are some tests one can do to check if their kidney is affected by excess protein or not? 

Urine analysis (look for increased protein excretion) [This is related to the increase glomerular filtration rates induced by high protein diet].