High Protein Diet’s Positive and Negative Influence on Athletes

Topic: Nutrition
Words: 1463 Pages: 4


Protein plays an essential role in most physiological processes; however, a high protein diet (HPD) can positively and negatively affect both the general population and athletes. While studies have been conducted on the various effects of an HPD, there has been little conclusion on this matter due to the sacristy of evidence. Excess proteins have had adverse effects on the general population. Some of the negative effects include loss of bone mass, muscle strength, and liver and kidney dysfunction. There has been evidence of the positive impacts of an HPD on the athletes and those that perform moderate to high-intensity exercises. However, there has been a gap in research regarding the adverse effects of a high protein diet and whether it could be harmful to athletes.

The paper aims at synthesizing various literature on the consequences of an HPD on athletes. The methodology used will be a literature search of various articles highlighting the effects of excess protein on athletes. And then, a summary of their claims was highlighted. Most studies have shown that diet has more positive results than adverse effects on athletes than the general population. In conclusion, although a diet rich in high protein is associated with muscle hypertrophy, they are recommended for weight loss and regeneration during strenuous exercises and injury. Further studies need to be conducted on the specific consequences of a high protein diet.

High Nutrition Diet and its Harm to Athletes

Proteins in the diet play a key role in most of the physiological processes in the body. The present requirement for a protein diet for healthy persons is 0.8g/kg/day (Antonio, 2019). However, evidence shows that increasing daily protein for people with moderate to high-intensity exercise to 1.4-1.6g/kg/day is critical in optimizing the training adaptations (Antonio, 2019. While much research has been done on the cause of the impact of the high nutritional nourishment on the general population, there remains a gap on whether there is a negative consequence of the diet to athletes. The paper summarizes the available literature on the impact of the diet with HPD on athletes.

Literature Review

Potential Benefits

The most cited reason for consuming a high protein diet is to replace the hypertrophied muscles and increase muscle mass in athletes. Augmented protein intake is necessary for muscle building and metabolism. This is supported by the protein metabolism that is different from the general population since the metabolic changes in the muscle protein are known as net muscle protein balance. Therefore, the duration and magnitude of the negative muscle protein balance determine the rate of hypertrophy of muscles. A high protein diet arises from the desire to provide more amino acids to muscle mass after vigorous exercise (Campbell et al., 2018). Enough amino acids must be consumed for muscle synthesis. The impact of the high-intensity training on muscle hypertrophy lasts for about 48 hours, and any protein taken during that time has no effects on muscle building. This will instead lead to muscle hypertrophy and loss.

HPD raises the effects of body-building physical activity on muscle proteins. Evidence shows that high-intensity activity leads to disruption of the muscle proteins and myofibers (Cintineo et al., 2018). The augmented frequency of muscle protein breakdown necessitates for degradation of the damaged myofibers. Antonio et al. (2020) claim an increased rate of amino acids transport from the blood to the muscles. Exogenous amino acids can intensify the muscle’s capacity to restructure and modify the proteins. Antonio et al. (2020) state that the reasons mentioned above necessitate the requirement of more dietary proteins and athletes. However, there have been some controversies on the significance of the evidence.

Potential Problems

The two most cited potential problems of high protein intake are loss in bone mass and chronic kidney dysfunction. Protein intake would affect kidney function from the Brenner hypothesis, especially if an individual had an underlying renal dysfunction (Kårlund et al., 2019). People with underlying renal disease should be cautious about the increase of proteins. Most athletes are usually healthy, and few usually develop health complications. High resistance exercise could change the impact of a protein diet on kidney function. There is scarce literature on exercise effects in combination with a high protein diet on activity. Since the paper aims to determine whether a protein diet is harmful to athletes, studies demonstrate the benefits of high protein outweigh the risks. However, due to the scarcity of this data on this issue, more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of high protein intake.

Bone loss and demineralization are also associated with high protein intake. There is evidence of increased calciuria with HPD, which helps bone loss effects (Antonio et al., 2018). Studies have shown that increased calculi do not lead to apparent bone loss. There is sufficient evidence of increased protein on bone health, and collagen synthesis increases my protein intake (Antonio et al., 2018). Given the various forms of exercise such as running, and walking that improves bone mineralization, it is implausible that a high protein diet causes bone issues with regular exercises (Hector & Phillips, 2018). Other issues such as kidney stones and atherosclerosis could arise.

One of the most exciting issues that are unlikely to be a health issue but rather a performing problem is the muscle’s response to protein synthesis (Antonio et al., 2018). In a study, runners who took a high protein diet for four weeks had decreased muscle response to protein synthesis. The impact is not clear as it is possible that it is a reduced turnover reflection and not necessarily reduced protein production (Antonio, 2019). Further, the type of protein impacted is not known as the study involved mixed proteins. The significant problem in other athletes’ high protein consumption is its substitution with other macronutrients such as carbohydrates (Antonio et al., 2018).


The sample of the study is the male and female adults aged 20 to 40 years who actively engaged in sports for one year and adhere to high protein intake. The sportspeople will adhere to excess protein in the diet for one year, and after that, a physical examination will be done on them to assess any deterioration in health indicators. The dependent variable is health indicators, and the independent variable is how various studies have different perspectives regarding the excess protein intake in the diet. The data will be collected by recording the blood pressure, kidney function tests, liver functions, weight, and muscle protein tests of the participants. The data will then be analyzed using statistical packages of social sciences and represented in the form of graphs, charts, percentages, and pie charts. Some kidney function tests are expected to be higher than others.


Research on a High protein diet among individuals who perform moderate to high-intensity exercises, such as athletes, is essential to study. This is because the findings will identify various gaps and be used as the foundation for the research. It will also help the coaches teach the athletes the essential dietary practices. The purpose of this review is to identify the multiple perspectives on whether a high protein diet is harmful to athletes or not. The main objective of the review is to bring to light the specific ideas on the benefits versus the risks of the high protein diet without taking sides. Thus, bringing more understanding into the issues related to the topic will inform the athletes on the best dietary practices.

The above will also ensure that the athletes do not develop complications related to the excessive intake of protein and will also ensure that they realize the importance of extra proteins to their bodies (Antonio et al., 2020). The findings will be presented to the Professor for review and then the results of the analysis stored in the research databases as helpful information to the athletes and other scholars. This study seeks to explore the multiple views of an HPD and identify the available gaps. While many studies and scholarships exist on an HPD to the general population, there is a notable lack of research on whether high protein is harmful to the employees or not from the healthcare perspective.


The available literature claims that there are more benefits of the high protein diet than the risk to the athletes. According to the above information, nutrition is vital for sportspersons on a general level since it produces the energy needed to execute the exercise. The athletes’ strength, preparation, success, and recovery are all influenced by the food they consume. Even though high-protein meals are usually related to muscle hypertrophy and resilience, they are presently recommended for losing weight and regeneration from strenuous workouts or injuries. More studies should be conducted on the specific risks of high proteins to athletes since there exists a notable gap.


Antonio, J. (2019). High-protein diets in trained individuals. Research in Modern Medicine, 27(2), 195-203. Web.

Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Ormsbee, M. J., Saracino, P. G., & Roberts, J. (2020). Effects of dietary protein on body composition in exercising individuals. Nutrients, 12(6), 1890. Web.

Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Evans, C., Silver, T., & Peacock, C. A. (2018). High protein consumption in trained women: Bad to the bone?. Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(6). Web.

Campbell, B. I., Aguilar, D., Conlin, L., Vargas, A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Corson, A., Gai, C., Best, S., Galvan, E., & Couvillion, K. (2018). Effects of high versus low protein intake on body composition and maximal strength in aspiring female physique athletes engaging in an 8-week resistance training program. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(6), 580-585. Web.

Cintineo, H. P., Arent, M. A., Antonio, J., & Arent, S. M. (2018). Effects of protein supplementation on performance and recovery in resistance and endurance training. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5, 83. Web.

Hector, A. J., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Protein recommendations for weight loss in elite athletes: A focus on body composition and performance. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(2), 170-177. Web.

Kårlund, A., Gómez-Gallego, C., Turpeinen, A. M., Palo-Oja, O. M., El-Nezami, H., & Kolehmainen, M. (2019). Protein supplements and their relation with nutrition, microbiota composition, and health: is more protein always better for sportspeople?. Nutrients, 11(4), 829. Web.

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