April 1, 2020
High Protein Health Risks - Keto, Paleo & Carnivore Diet & Gout

High Protein Health Risks – Keto, Paleo & Carnivore Diet & Gout

Excessively high protein diets are currently very popular in the nutrition and fitness industry with the likes of the meat-rich Ketogenic, Paleo and now with the “carnivore fad diet”.

Protein is an essential macronutrient needed by the human body for growth and maintenance. Foods rich in animal protein are meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy products, while plant foods high in protein are mainly legumes, nuts, and grains.

The general accepted RDA/DRI for protein for healthy adults is around 0.8 g – 1 g protein/kg body weight/day.

Resistance training athletes have higher protein needs and the literature typically recommends anywhere around 1.2-1.5 g protein/kg bodyweight/day to maintain a healthy nitrogen balance.

However, excessive protein intake well beyond the RDA can have many proven potential negative health consequences from causing renal/kidney function disorders to increased cancer risk.

Over the past ten years we have had many often excessively high protein/meat-rich diets from the low-carb Atkins diet to the Paleolithic diet, which with everyday gets more and more rebranded to a bacon, eggs and steak diet, than the predominantly plant-based diet pattern as its referenced in the nutritional literature.

Adverse Health Effects Of Excessive Protein Intake

A study published in 2013 seeked to determine the potential disease risks due to high protein/high meat intake obtained from diet and/or nutritional supplements in humans.

32 studies (21 experimental human studies and 11 reviews) were identified.

The adverse effects associated with long-term high protein/high meat intake in humans were (a) disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, (b) disorders of renal function, (c) increased cancer risk, (d) disorders of liver function, and (e) precipitated progression of coronary artery disease.

Conclusions. The findings of the present study suggest that there is currently no reasonable scientific basis in the literature to recommend protein consumption above the current RDA (high protein diet) for healthy adults due to its potential disease risks. Further research needs to be carried out in this area, including large randomized controlled trials. [1]

Meat/Animal Food Rich Diets & Gout

Carnivore Diet & GoutAnother very common question I am now seeing asked frequently on various internet forums and on many “carnivore” and keto dieters Youtube videos is individuals asking whether high meat/animal food consumption is potentially harmful for those with gout.

I cannot count how many carnivore or keto diet “gurus” I have now come across on Youtube recently downplaying the serious risk of high purine-rich food consumption for individuals with gout.

As always with most of these Youtubers they clearly have done no research on this topic and are casually downplaying the serious risks involved making out as if excessive red meat and animal food consumption is “no issue” for those with gout.

However, this is far from the truth and multiple studies have associated high purine-rich foods to not only be a common risk factor for causing gout, but high purine-food intake can increase risk of gout attacks by fivefold.

To make matters even worse, we now have individuals like the carnivores trying to incorrectly claim that eating extreme fad diets of nothing but red meat and animal foods to supposedly be a “cure” for the likes of gout.

This is just complete nonsensical, dangerous and non evidence-based diet advice, especially when high purine foods have actually consistently proven to be a potential risk factor for gout.

A case-crossover study published in 2012 examined and quantified the relationship between purine intake and the risk of recurrent gout attacks among gout patients.

The study concluded:

The study findings suggest that acute purine intake increases the risk of recurrent gout attacks by almost fivefold among gout patients. Avoiding or reducing amount of purine-rich foods intake, especially of animal origin, may help reduce the risk of gout attacks. [2]

A study published in 2004 investigated the association of these dietary factors with new cases of gout in men.

Various purine-rich foods and high protein intake have long been thought to be risk factors for gout.

High purine-foods include:

  • Alcoholic beverages (all types)
  • Some fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout and haddock.
  • Some meats, such as bacon, turkey, veal, venison and organ meats like liver.

The study concluded:

Higher levels of meat and seafood consumption are associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas a higher level of consumption of dairy products is associated with a decreased risk. Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables or protein is not associated with an increased risk of gout. [3]


[1] Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Adults


[2] Purine-rich foods intake and recurrent gout attacks


[3] Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men.


The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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