High Protein Diet and Calcium Kidney Stones

CalvinY64 Asked :

I recently started up on a weight loss program and my trainer put on a protein shake and gave me a high protein diet with lots of meat. I spoke to my doctor about it because I previously had kidney stones and he advised me against it. He says that I can have moderate amounts of protein but high amounts may cause stones again.

I am a bit confused because the last time I had calcium stones (I think) and I thought that meat was only a problem with urate kidney stones. I am quite keen on losing weight and getting some muscle bulk but my trainer says that I need high protein, either in a supplement or diet. What can I do?

This question was posted under the Kidney Stone Prevention Through Diet, Foods to Avoid article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.

Dr. Chris Answered :

Calcium stones are usually calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones. These types of stones tend to occur in acidic urine. Meat or any protein is broken down into a number of simpler substances, one of which is uric acid. Large amounts of protein should therefore be avoided if you run the risk of urate (uric acid) stones. However, the breakdown products of protein can also affect the pH of the urine. If the pH is low (acidic) then there is an increased chance of calcium stone formation. Meat also contains calcium so you would want to avoid an excessive amount of calcium as well if it was calcium stones that you previously had.

There are many misconceptions about the use of protein in weight loss. Protein helps to keep you satisfied for longer by acting on the satiety center of the brain. This helps you eat less because you feel ‘fuller’ for longer. It does not require excessive amounts of protein to have this effect. You can still have a balanced diet with moderate amounts of protein and get the same benefit. Remember that there are many types and sources of protein, not only from meat, so you should speak to a dietitian about your options.

Apart from the aesthetic aspect of  larger or more defined muscles, muscle cells also consume more calories (even at rest) than other cells so it is beneficial for long term weight loss. To gain moderate muscle bulk, you need to do weight bearing exercises and once again moderate amounts of protein will suffice. Large amounts of protein is not necessary. Speak to your doctor about a medical weight loss program where your doctor will work in conjunction with your trainer, a dietitian and a counselor if necessary to help you lose weight without running the risk of any medical complications.

While you are on a diet, your doctor will monitor the pH and calcium content of your urine. A low pH, high calcium and oxalate levels will mean that you have to make some dietary changes or start medication.  There are a number of other causes of kidney stones and your doctor may need to also run tests to identify the cause and start treatment to properly manage any underlying condition.

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