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Health Concerns, Side Effects Associated with High Animal Protein Consumption

Updated on July 31, 2012

How much protein is too much protein? The average American consumes about 100 grams of protein per day which is two to three times more than the body needs. The majority of these individuals have been raised on a diet of animal proteins because it has been long believed that only animal sources provide a complete source of amino acids necessary in protein consumption.

Americans eat over 200 pounds of red meat, fish and poultry per year. Too much protein from animal sources provide many health risks because they store in the body as toxins and fats. Excessive animal protein intake has been linked to mineral loss leading to some forms of cancer, and osteoporosis, kidney stones, arthritis, diabetes, cataracts, arteriosclerosis, an irritated immune system and high cholesterol which is converted by the liver into fat. Experts are recommending that Americans reduce protein intake by about 15 percent and eat less animal proteins and more protein from plant sources.

Today, nutritional scientists are finding that vegetable source protein such as peas, beans, lentils, soy products, seeds and nuts are valuable sources of protein. When 2 or more vegetable source proteins are combined they provide all the essential amino acids and represent a complete source of protein. Even if this were not the case, new research is finding that providing a complete source of protein is no longer necessary because the body is able to break down proteins into amino acids and redistribute them, allowing food combinations of incomplete amino acids to have the same effect as a complete protein.

If supplementation is necessary, Arbonne International puts out the finest quality, best tasting plant based protein powder on the market. It is a combination of rice, green pea and cranberry protein and also contains vitamins, minerals and alfalfa, kelp and ginseng.

A diet of strictly meat and potatoes is particularly hazardous because in the absence of green, leafy vegetables, and other varieties of vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grains it becomes very difficult for our bodies to break down excess protein. As a result there is an increased production of a waste product called urea which can lead to dehydration and acidity in the body. Excess, unused protein in the body tends to bind to minerals creating nutrient deficiency. The liver and kidneys have to work hard to constantly remove the excess from the body, which can lead to diabetic renal disease.

Another major concern is protein deficiency caused by pancreatic overload. The pancreas breaks down protein by producing proteolytic enzymes but an overload can severely limit pancreatic function. This leads to undigested protein molecules being absorbed which can cause inflammatory reactions in the body. In an effort to compensate, the body depletes available vitamins and minerals. Chinese researchers have shown that too much animal protein in the diet raises the risk of cancer and heart disease even after taking into consideration the fat that accompanies the protein. Studies have also shown that eating large quantities of animal protein may cause calcium loss leading to osteoporosis.

A high protein diet is much healthier when it comes from plant sources or at least accompanies animal proteins because it alkalizes the body, which brings the bodies alkaline/acidity(pH) back into balance. High cholesterol has been associated with animal source protein. A study was done comparing men on high soy protein diets with men on high animal protein diets and it was found that only the men on the soy protein diets had a drop in cholesterol.

A 1990 chinese study showed that Chinese people with a plant based protein diet rarely developed osteoporosis. However, when Chinese cities consumed too much protein from animal sources, the rate of osteoporosis was significantly higher. Eskimos, whose diet is primarily animal based proteins have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world.

The film Forks over Knives does a powerful, in-depth study comparing animal-based protein to plant-based protein. To learn more view the trailer below:


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    • Aussie Holiday profile image

      Aussie Holiday 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Always drink plenty of water if you are taking in a lot of protein and try to balance out your diet.

      I am trying to gain weight and increase my muscle mass, so I take extra protein whey. I have been taking it for 2 weeks as well as going to the gym 2 days a week and to rugby trainings. I have nearly added an extra 1/2 a kilogram, my problem is I burn more energy than I can eat so I need the extra calories, carbs and protein.

    • profile image

      ryan short 

      9 years ago

      I understand your concerns about ingesting more protein than the body can absorb, however I believe there is significant merit to ingesting relatively high amounts of the right kinds of animal proteins. Organic grass-fed beef for example, has both omega 3 fatty acids and CLA. The Omega 3's alone address several of the health risks you listed, all of which are significantly more prevalent in people ingest beef from grain-fed animals. In addition, any mineral deficiencies that result from ingesting excessive protein can be solved by either consuming more dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, or spinach.

      As far as building lean muscle tissue is concerned, in order for an average male to build muscle he needs to be consuming a MINIMUM of 100 grams of protein per day, at least if he desires to see any significant growth. Regardless I do see the merit of your argument in the context for which it was written, however there are two sides to every coin, after all.


    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment gr8proteinreview!

      What you say about soy is partially true but it isn't the whole story. The truth is that studies have found that the harmful components of soy are only found in processed soy products. Natural unaltered soy is very healthy. You can learn more at

      Athletes and muscular individuals will do fine with 100g of protein per day. However, many less muscular and inactive individuals would find that consuming 100g of protein per day would become unhealthy.

    • gr8proteinreview profile image


      9 years ago from West By God Virginia

      too much protein... 100 grams a day 2-3 times more than needed?! this has to be a joke... your pushing men towards soy??! soy contains phytoestrogens which act as an estrogen in estrogen receptors... unless you want man boobs and stubborn stomach fat stay away from soy.

      This article is completely opinion and if you want facts look up hexane content in processed soy products and think about that when your body is wasting away from a protein deficiency as soy is only like 60% bio available whereas meats and whey protein are 80%+.

      100 grams of protein is only 400 kcals... where else would the average person get their 2000 calories on average from... fat and carbs that would mean getting 80% from those sources. Split evenly your getting 89 grams of fat and 200 grams of carbs.

      advice like this comes straight from the high carb mentality of the 1980s which fast tracked America to a diabetes and obesity epidemic.

      Eat your protein... if it comes from natural lean sources odds are overdose is an impossibility (stomach volume wise.)

    • StephanieP profile image


      9 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Americans are obsessed with burgers and fries. It amazes me how many times I've seen people order these items at "better" restaurants when there is so much more on the menu. And the marketers out there are constantly coming up with new ad campaigns to promote fast food burgers. I just don't get why people like it so much. They are not that great.

    • joarline profile image


      10 years ago from Skull Valley, Az.

      Great dialog going on! Our bodies are not getting the same value from produce as aour grandparents, thanks to irradiation and GMO stuff. We need to seek fresh, local, organically grown to get as muchmicronutrition as we can. Some of us can't function without it. Who said BALANCE?

    • katyzzz profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Really interesting information, steve, thanks for the advices

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment Pest! The more physically active you are when on a high protein supplement the better because you will use more protein. However, I recommend getting your protein supplements from vegetables sources rather than animal sources.

    • Pest profile image


      10 years ago from A couch, Ionia, MI

      I lift weights and ingest gram after gram of protein supplement ( all within my daily target ) do you think these issues should concern me?

    • droj profile image


      10 years ago from CNY

      I'd be interested in some of your sources as well. You mention a lot of specifics...

    • foxility profile image


      10 years ago

      Yeah, I guess too much of anything can be bad.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      10 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      There is a saying that 'a little of what you fancy does you good', I think the emphasis is on little and as someone else said getting the balance right.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      Good info! Thank you! :)

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      10 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Nice and clear information, and a bit of food for thought as I'm amending my diet at the moment!

    • profile image

      jed grey 

      10 years ago

      Greetings Steve,

      Interesting hub. What are the study sources and who is funding them?

      My studies from the Internet show that soy is to be avoided in any form.

      There are strong opinions on both sides of the issue so I'll wait and see.

    • quicksand profile image


      10 years ago

      I eat lentils often. Meat and fish too! However I consume more fish than meat, since I live close to the sea and have access to fresh fish.

      Thanks for another valuable bit of info.


    • Steve Orris profile image

      Steve Orris 

      10 years ago from NE Ohio

      But I really, really like red meat!!

      There is a very good word to remember though. . .

      It's all about Balance.

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true!

      In fact I'm blood type A and I am not supposed to eat meat at all because my alkaline body cannot digest it easily. I don't eat it and don't crave it - but my blood type O friends do - they can process it with their acidic bodies - but as you point out - the amount Americans eat is too much (and is not matched anywhere else in the world) - not only is that making us sick - but then the poor quality is wreaking havoc on our health.

      Thanks for creating this dialogue. I'm so glad to see hub writers addressing the issue of health!!!!! No excuse not being informed with the internet!

    • eovery profile image


      10 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Well, there goes my t-bone steaks!

      Keep on Hubbing


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