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Is Protein Powder Bad for Your Liver or Kidneys?

author image Joseph Eitel
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog,, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.
Is Protein Powder Bad for Your Liver or Kidneys?
Protein powder supplements aren't right for everyone.

Protein powder in itself isn’t bad for your liver and kidneys, but consuming too much of it may cause a strain on these organs. Virginia Uhley, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan points out protein supplements are a viable option for people who can burn or use the extra protein in their diet. This may include athletes, those who do strength-training, vegetarians and people who are protein deficient. If you don’t fall within these categories, it may be best to avoid protein powder. Ask your doctor if protein powder is an option for you.

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Of the many types of protein powders, Uhley doesn’t point to any specific type that causes more strain on the kidney and liver. Several of the most common types of protein supplements include whey, casein, egg and soy. These powders offer their own health benefits but there’s no definitive difference between any of them when it comes to affecting liver and kidney health. That’s because the protein itself is the component that plays a role in liver and kidney health and not the source of the protein.

How it Works

The liver and kidneys are involved in removing the waste products from your body created during the protein synthesis process. Protein creates a waste product called urea, once it is synthesized. The urea is filtered out of your body through the kidneys. Adding protein powder may cause your kidneys to become overworked, so it’s important to make sure you stick within your daily needs for protein.

Daily Protein Needs

The recommended dietary allowance for protein in sedentary people is about 0.36 g of protein per 1 lb. of body weight. Strength-training athletes need additional protein, around 0.73 to 0.82 g of protein per 1 lb. of body weight for those trying to build muscle. By tracking your daily intake of protein from whole food sources and protein supplements, you can ensure you don’t exceed these recommendations. This will help to lower the risk of kidney and liver problems caused by too much protein in your diet.

Pre-existing Conditions

If you have diabetes, kidney disease or any type of liver damage, increasing your protein intake may cause further damage to your liver and kidneys. People with liver damage are not able to process protein properly, and excess protein consumption in this case can lead to the buildup of toxic waste in the brain. Those with diabetes or kidney disease can inflict further damage to their kidneys by eating more protein. In all of these cases, you should follow a low-protein diet. If you have these conditions, you should avoid protein powder and consult your doctor about protein in your diet.

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