Does a High Protein Diet Make Your Bones Weaker?
When it comes to high protein diets, it’s hard to get a straight answer…
While there is some good science out there, there’s also information circulating that’s misleading, contradictory or just plain ridiculous.
That’s why we’re introducing a new series of Health Watch issues to set the record straight. You’ll know what you can believe and what you shouldn’t.
Is there such a thing as too much protein? Does too much protein make your bones weaker? Is there a perfect source of protein for overall health?
We’ll answer these questions and more in the coming weeks. Let’s start by looking at what a high protein diet does to your bones.
But is it true? Can a high protein diet make your bones weaker and more brittle?
No. A higher protein diet actually protects your bones. Studies in the past two to three years show that women who eat a high protein diet—more than 85 grams of protein a day—have the lowest risk of developing a fracture.2
Protein is a transport system for calcium in the body. Without enough protein, it’s hard for your body to properly absorb any calcium that you get from food or supplements.3
And that’s not all. Protein also plays a key role in raising IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). IGF-1 is essential to bone growth and development.4 As you get older, your body produces less of it. This can lead to weaker bones over time. People with osteoporosis have 40% less IGF-1 than people without osteoporosis.5
Reducing daily protein intake from 1.67 g per pound of bodyweight to 0.95 g per pound reduces IGF-1 levels by as much as 22 percent in just 3 weeks.6
In a four-year study of over 500 women aged 55 – 92, those who added just 15 grams per day of animal protein significantly increased their bone mineral density. Fifteen grams is less than 3 ounces of meat or fish.
It’s not very difficult to get quality animal protein from natural sources. Some great sources for high amounts of protein are wild caught salmon, grass fed steak, and leafy green vegetables. A half fillet of wild caught salmon has around 40 g of protein. Three ounces of steak has about 23 g protein, depending on the cut.7
A high protein diet isn’t bad for your bones. In fact, the research shows that animal protein supports healthy bones.
Eating a high protein diet is a delicious, satisfying path to stronger bones… But is all protein made equal? Find out in next Sunday’s Health Watch, the second part of this series. We’ll debunk some of the more popular—and ridiculous—myths about protein sources.