The Effects of High-Protein Diets on Kidney Health and Longevity

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020 Aug;31(8):1667-1679. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2020010028. Epub 2020 Jul 15.


Although high-protein diets continue to be popular for weight loss and type 2 diabetes, evidence suggests that worsening renal function may occur in individuals with-and perhaps without-impaired kidney function. High dietary protein intake can cause intraglomerular hypertension, which may result in kidney hyperfiltration, glomerular injury, and proteinuria. It is possible that long-term high protein intake may lead to de novo CKD. The quality of dietary protein may also play a role in kidney health. Compared with protein from plant sources, animal protein has been associated with an increased risk of ESKD in several observational studies, including the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Potential mediators of kidney damage from animal protein include dietary acid load, phosphate content, gut microbiome dysbiosis, and resultant inflammation. In light of such findings, adopting current dietary approaches that include a high proportion of protein for weight reduction or glycemic control should be considered with care in those at high risk for kidney disease. Given the possibility of residual confounding within some observational studies and the conflicting evidence from previous trials, long-term studies including those with large sample sizes are warranted to better ascertain the effects of high protein intake on kidney health.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; glomerular hyperfiltration; high protein diet; nutrition; proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Diet, High-Protein / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Ketogenic
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology*