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The Side Effects of High-Protein Powder in Women

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
The Side Effects of High-Protein Powder in Women
Too much protein may cause you to consume too many calories. Photo Credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

When you're working out hard, you may wonder if adding a high-protein powder to your daily regimen will help improve muscle tone. While protein is an important part of a woman's diet, eating too much may cause more harmful effects than positive ones. Talk to your doctor or dietitian to go over your diet and exercise plan to help you determine the right balance of nutrients.

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Weight Gain

One potential side effect of taking a high-protein powder is weight gain. Depending on the brand of protein powder you're using, you can add an extra 150 to 200 calories to your diet with one serving. If you're taking in those calories in addition to your usual intake without making changes to your exercise routine, you may gain almost 2 pounds in a month. Knowing the number of calories you need, which for women ranges from 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, can help you track your intake and stay in balance while taking protein supplements.

Risk of Dehydration

Adding more protein to your diet with a supplement may increase your risk of dehydration. You need more water to metabolize protein and get rid of its byproducts, according to the American Council on Exercise. Researchers at the University of Connecticut who investigated the effects of protein intake on hydration suggest you increase your water intake when upping your protein. Adult women need at least 8 to 10 cups of water a day.

Potential Effects on Bone Health

Eighty percent of the 10 million people in the United States with osteoporosis are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Adding a protein powder to your diet may cause your body to excrete more calcium in your urine, which might increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, according to Today's Dietitian. To decrease your risk, make sure you meet your daily calcium requirement, which for women ranges from 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams a day.

Meeting Your Needs

How much protein you need a day depends on a number of factors, including your current weight and weight goals, your exercise routine and overall health. The Institute of Medicine says you should get 10 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein. Pregnant and lactating women, as well as women who are more active, have higher protein needs than inactive women.

While it's acceptable to use protein powder to help you meet your daily protein needs, it's not necessary, according to a 2014 article published in Today's Dietitian, and you can more than adequately meet your protein needs by eating a variety of foods from all the food groups.

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