Protein is one of the important nutrients needed by the body to build and build muscle, support the immune system, and help regulate the production of hormones and enzymes. Foods high in protein are also considered more filling.
That is why many dietary principles encourage followers to consume more protein to reduce carbohydrates. But who would have thought, the habit of a high-protein diet can put you at risk of severe dehydration, even if it is done by a fit athlete.
What is the relationship between high protein diets and the risk of dehydration?
Reporting from Very Well, Nancy Rodriguez, a nutritionist, said that the risk of dehydration is related to how much protein you eat. The more your protein intake, and the longer the duration of its diet, the higher your risk of dehydration.
A study from the University of Connecticut in 2002 found that foods high in protein increase blood urea nitrogen levels. This finding was reported after observing 5 athlete students who were given high protein food gradually, from 68 grams of protein, 123 grams, and a diet high in protein 246 grams.
Shortly after consuming high protein foods, athletes do not feel thirsty so they do not consume enough water. After the test, the level of urea nitrogen in the athlete’s blood shows an abnormal number. It was noted that an athlete’s blood urea levels can return to normal when protein intake is reduced.
Why is that?
Urea is a waste product from protein digestion from the food we eat. Protein contains nitrogen which cannot be digested by the body and must be excreted. Before being released, nitrogen will be converted to urea or also known as urea nitrogen (BUN). Usually, urea is filtered by the kidneys to be excreted with urine.
Healthy kidneys will get rid of BUN so that blood levels remain low. In addition, BUN also shows how good enough body fluids.
When you consume too much high protein food, BUN levels automatically increase. High urea levels in the blood generally indicate that your kidneys are not functioning properly, which is marked by the color of dark yellow urine – a typical symptom of dehydration. If left unchecked, this can cause you to experience severe dehydration, heatstroke, and disorders of the heart and blood vessels.
Don’t forget to drink lots of water during a high-protein diet
Fluid intake is needed to help the kidneys rinse excess urea and other nitrogen products through urine so the kidneys don’t work too hard.
For those of you who are on a high-protein diet, make sure you have an adequate fluid intake, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Also treat your fluid intake before, during and after exercising to maintain fluid balance and prevent the risk of dehydration.
You can consume drinks that are rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes which can reduce the risk of dehydration and hyponatremia. However, the choice of the best drinks is still in the form of water.