Eating a large amount of protein will not directly cause your joints to become sore. However, regularly consuming protein in excess of your body's need for the nutrient can contribute to the development of medical problems that result in sore joints. You can decrease your risk of these conditions by staying within the recommended daily allowance of protein specified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for your age and gender, and by choosing low-fat or plant-based protein sources.
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A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet can cause your body's concentration of ketone compounds to rise as fat instead of glucose is metabolized for energy. High levels of ketones increase the risk of gout by increasing the amount of uric acid in your blood. Excess uric acid builds up in the joints -- particularly the joints in the feet, toes and knees -- and causes them to become painfully inflamed. People who have gout are advised to limit the amount of animal-based protein they consume since meat, poultry and fish are rich in purines, the substances that the body breaks down into uric acid. MayoClinic.com recommends that you eat no more than 4 to 6 ounces of fish, poultry or meat daily if you have gout.
Animal proteins like meat and eggs contain large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. High intake of these fatty acids causes an increase in the activity of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2, two enzymes that are responsible for triggering inflammation within joints. Arthritis Today reports that eating too much omega-6 fatty acid-containing foods can increase the pain and inflammation that people with arthritis experience in their joints. To decrease the soreness, individuals with arthritis should focus on eating plant-based proteins in place of animal protein.
If you consume more calories than your body requires, and some of that extra caloric intake is from too much protein, the excess protein will be stored as fat. Over time, continuing to eat more protein than you need can lead to weight gain and possible obesity. Joint soreness and pain is directly linked to obesity, since the strain on your hips, knees, legs and feet increases with each additional pound. According to World of Orthopedics, your knee joints must bear what is equivalent to 45 extra pounds for every 15 pounds you are over your ideal body weight. Keeping your protein consumption within recommended limits can help you control your weight and prevent joint problems.
Nutrition experts advise that protein should make up between 10 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake. Adult men need about 56 grams of protein daily, while adult women should aim for approximately 46 grams. Teenagers of both sexes need between 46 and 52 grams. These protein requirements can be easily met with three or four servings each day of protein-rich foods, such as 3 ounces of lean meat, 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1/2 cup of cooked beans or 2 tablespoons of a nut butter.
- American Council of Exercise: Are There Health Risks Concerning Eating Too Much Protein?
- Nutrition Research Center: Too Much Protein is No Good
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia: Gout
- MayoClinic.com: Gout Diet
- World of Orthopedics: Obesity and Joint Pain
- USA Today: Aging, Obesity Contribute to Increase in Osteoarthritis
- Center for Young Women's Health: Protein