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Whey Protein & Kidney Damage

author image Mike Everett
Based in Michigan, Mike Everett has been writing health-related articles since 2010, with his work appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM. He is a licensed certified fitness trainer from the International Sports Sciences Association, and he holds a Master of Business Administration in strategic management from Davenport University and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University.
Whey Protein & Kidney Damage
Protein may have no ill effects on kidneys. Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Whey protein comes from cow's milk. The process of cow's milk being turned into cheese creates whey protein as a byproduct. Whey protein is a complete and high quality protein, with all the essential amino acids. Whey protein is a natural food substance, but is not 100 percent risk-free. Excessive consumption may contribute to kidney damage.

Benefits of Whey Protein

The amino acids in the whey protein prove to be essential for the growth of healthy muscles and connective tissue. It improves body composition and enhances athletic performance. Whey protein works to repair and grow muscle tissue, especially after working out. Consumption of whey protein helps prevent bone loss in the elderly. Whey protein is highly recommended for people with cardiovascular complications. It is also very important for cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments and have difficulty supplying the body's nutritional requirements due to appetite loss, nausea and fatigue.

Healthy Kidneys and Whey Protein

The University of Connecticut conducted a studied called "Dietary Protein Intake and Renal Function," showing there isn't any concern for people with healthy kidneys who consume high amounts of whey protein. The study references recent research on high protein diets for both weight loss and athletes, which have found no negative impact on kidney function. The conclusion finds there is no evidence that supports the idea that high protein intake is a cause of kidney damage or dysfunction.

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Risk of Kidney Damage and Whey Protein

When increased amounts of whey protein are taken over an extended period of time, there is a risk of developing kidney disorders, including kidney stones. High protein diets rich in whey can be a health concern that may lead to possible impaired function of the kidneys. Consuming a high protein diet for weight loss stresses the kidneys, which are responsible for flushing wastes. Those who rely on this diet for an extended period are at a higher risk of developing kidney problems, kidney stones and in severe cases, kidney failure. However, there isn't conclusive research that links excessive, long-term whey protein consumption with deteriorating kidney function. Regardless, many experts caution that there is a risk and encourage individuals to consume whey protein in moderation.


Look for the "USP" symbol, as this means that the whey protein meets certain standards relating to the purity and quality of the powder. If you have any chronic health problems, take any prescription medications or have questions regarding correct dosage, check with your health care provider before taking whey protein.

Water with Whey

Drink plenty of water when consuming whey protein, because it can leave you dehydrated. Dehydration can significantly impair your performance and even do damage to your heart.

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