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Is whey protein safe for kidneys? Yes & No; Here’s Why

kidney beans representing the question: Is whey protein safe for the kidneys

Bodybuilders and Health conscious alike have wondered this

Whey is a product of cow milk. It is made as a by-product during the cheese making process. Whey contains a complete amino acid profile and is high in protein. Whey protein is essential when it comes to meeting the protein demands of different individuals like bodybuilders. Besides the fact that way is natural, there are some speculations that too much of it can lead to kidney damage.

There are three types of whey protein in the market today as listed below:

  • Whey protein isolate:

    This type of whey contains about 90% protein. It is thoroughly refined and contains less fat and lactose. Because of the rigors processing, isolate whey contains less vital minerals

  • Whey protein concentrate:

    This whey contains about 80 %protein. It is less refined and therefore contains more minerals, lactose, and fats. It is the most common in the market.

  • Whey protein hydrolysate:

    This type of whey is easy to digest since it is already pre-digested.

Why whey protein?

There are several reasons as to why whey is popular among individuals wishing to grow their muscles and stay healthy. Look at the two below:

  • Whey helps one recover from intense workouts fast. It also builds muscle endurance and helps in weight reduction by boosting metabolism
  • Whey supplies the body with a group of amino acids termed as ‘’essential” since the body does not have the ability to produce them.
  • Helps lower the risk of obesity. Proteins take longer to digest and will make one feel fuller for longer resulting in reduced calorie intake and weight loss.

Whey and digestion

Whey has several side effects when it comes to absorption. It is complicated to digest and often results in bloating, cramps and diarrhea. This is mainly due to lactose intolerance that most people suffer from unknowingly.

Individuals with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase which is responsible for breaking down lactose carb in whey for easier digestion. Whey isolate is the recommended type of whey protein for individuals with lactose intolerance. As said earlier, whey isolate contains fewer fats and lactose.

Whey and allergies

Many people are allergic to cow’s milk. This type of individuals may develop sensitivity towards whey protein. The most common symptoms of whey allergies include facial swelling, runny nose, and tongue swelling.

An allergy occurs when the body produces an immune response to a particular substance. On the other hand, intolerance is as a result of a deficiency in the lactase enzyme. It is important not to confuse the two. A non- dairy protein powder is recommended for individuals with lactose allergies.

  • Always visit your doctor when you are not sure what the cause of your symptoms is.

So is whey protein safe for kidneys? Yes.

There is no evidence showing the side effects of whey to the kidneys of healthy individuals. High protein diet can only be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney diseases. A high protein meal often raises the pressure in the kidneys and leads to filtering of more blood than normal. The kidneys can completely fail when this process repeats itself.

We feel that there is not enough evidence that too much protein can damage the kidneys. Even though, it advisable to consult your doctor about whey protein supplementation when you are suffering from any kidney disease.

Accord to research:

The effects of the protein diet on kidney function were independent of changes in blood pressure. There was no significant difference between the carbohydrate and unsaturated fat diets.

A healthy diet rich in protein increased eGFR. Whether long-term consumption of a high-protein diet leads to kidney disease is uncertain.[ncbi]

Whey protein and your liver

The liver uses protein when breaking down fats into lipids. Lips are molecules that help remove fats from the liver. There is no evidence that too much protein can damage the liver in healthy people. High protein diet can only harm people with an already existing liver disease such as cirrhosis.

The liver is a vital organ when it comes to detoxification of urea, creatinine, and urea by-products of proteins. It is also essential for people suffering from liver conditions to consult their health care provider before supplementing their diet with whey protein.

Can whey cause constipation?

Constipation is a common side effect associated with whey protein intake. Illness mostly occurs in individuals with lactose intolerance because of the slowed gut movement. However, remember that one may experience constipation if they are not taking enough fiber and fruits in their diet.

  • To prevent constipation, eat enough fruits and fiber. Soluble fiber is also recommended when you can’t get your hands on fresh fruits.

So how much whey protein should you take?

Whey protein is safe and does not have any side effects to majority of people. It is recommended that one takes about 56 grams of protein per day. This amount is enough to protect one from protein-related deficiencies. You may need more of proteins than 56 grams if you are constantly active.

  • Switch to whey isolate powder when you experience bloating, diarrheal and abdominal cramps. Talk to your doctor when symptoms persist.


Whey is a safe source of protein. There are several studies with evidence that whey protein is beneficial to the human when it comes to weight control, weight gain and muscle recovery post- workout. The body continuously breaks and rebuilds its tissues. This is reason enough for you to supplement your protein intake with whey protein.

Is whey protein safe for the kidneys? Yes & No; Here's Why
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Is whey protein safe for the kidneys? Yes & No; Here's Why
Before you down that 50-gram shake of protein, you should ask yourself. Is whey protein safe for the kidneys? Will I regret this diet decision! Well...
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Brice Mansa - ISSA Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach

Brice Mansa is a certified personal trainer from the ISSA. He took his knowledge from college to provide a more broad education method (blogging) to enhance the lives of thousands of people. Tired of being limited as a personal trainer in a gym with a single client, he stepped up his game. ASCVS.org is proud to host him and the team of 4 other certified personal trainers and kinesiologists. When Brice isn't training or writing he likes long walks on the beach, puppos & motorcycles. We hope you enjoy his content, tips & stories!