The Way to BE

Low Carbohydrate Dieters: Beware of High Protein Intake

Most of us have heard something about low carb dieting. Whether it is the Atkins Diet or the Paleo Diet, carbohydrate restriction is becoming more popular as more people experience dramatic weight loss.

While restricting carbohydrate intake does offer several health benefits, there are also dangers involved with eating too much protein.

Not only does excessive dietary protein burden the digestive system, it can also contribute to the production of sugar in the body and even inhibit the body’s ability to naturally detoxify!

Eating a low carb diet doesn't mean that you have to overload your plate with protein at every meal! Moderating protein in your diet can help you to live longer, limit sugar, and even improve daily digestion.

Weight loss is not the only benefit of carbohydrate restriction.

When done correctly, a low carb diet can help to control blood sugar, and it can even reverse insulin resistance, helping to heal disorders that are related to a sugar-heavy diet, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Low carb diets can also help to cool down chronic inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and several autoimmune conditions.

Part of the overall success of a low carb diet is that:

  • Many of our processed foods are carbohydrate-rich: Processed foods, which are full of refined oils and sugar, are hazardous for anyone’s health.
  • Carb-heavy foods are often full of common immune system triggers: Several food allergies and immune system disorders are actually rooted in the proteins found in grain-based carbohydrates. One example is wheat gluten.
A diet that is full of carbohydrates also feeds infection in the body. This infection could be in the form of bacteria, yeasts, or parasites.

3 Reasons to Limit Your Protein Intake

Reason #1 to Moderate Your Protein Intake: Live Longer

Bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms need certain amino acids for their survival. Amino acids come from protein-rich foods.

In our own bodies, protein provides us with building blocks to produce things like cells, greater muscle mass, and even neurotransmitters. However, a moderate amount of protein is enough to do the job.

Too much protein in the diet creates surplus. This ends up giving disease-causing bacteria the building blocks that they need in order to thrive. (1)

When we restrict our protein and occasionally even eliminate it for a day or two, we actually give our immune system the chance to perform something called autophagy.

Autophagy is a recycling process. “Junk proteins,” which have lost function, can accumulate in our body. When protein is scarce or when we restrict dietary protein, cells turn on this recycling process called autophagy. They begin to break down these junk proteins into usable amino acids.

Autophagy has been found to improve the health of cells and to promote longevity. (2) (3)

Reason #2 to Moderate Your Protein Intake: Limit Sugar

As dieters learn to restrict carbohydrates, they tend to over-consume protein. An assortment of meat begins to find its way on their plate, replacing old favorites, like breads and pasta.

When the body needs to raise its levels of blood sugar, it turns to liver. This is because the liver has the ability to convert the amino acids that are found in protein into sugar. This process is called gluconeogenesis.

An excess amount of protein may be turned into sugar to feed systemic infections in the body and lead to autoimmune diseases. Much research is now centered on how diabetes may start in the gut.

Reason #3 to Moderate Your Protein Intake: Improve Digestion

It takes a lot of energy to digest animal-based proteins. Most of us are not even equipped with enough hydrochloric acid to handle the massive amounts of animal proteins that we consume on a daily basis.

Some of the most popular medications on the market today are those that control the production of stomach acid. These are drugs like proton pump inhibitors and over-the-counter medications, like Tums.

Did you know that one of the biggest reasons for heartburn is not too much stomach acid but too little?

If you are not producing enough stomach acid, it is essential to take a properly balanced supplemental form of hydrochloric acid (HCL) like Assist Dairy and Protein. When digestion is smooth, food does not have the chance to sit in the gut and ferment. 

This is why the Body Ecology Diet recommends to:

  • Always eat protein with non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables.
  • Limit protein to 20% of the food on your plate.
  • Stop eating once you are 80% full.

Practice proper food combing principles, and you will be able to give your body all the nourishment it needs. Taking care not to overdo your protein intake could add healthy years to your life.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

The low carb diet has become increasingly popular within the past several decades as it has led to dramatic weight loss for many dieters. But when considering a low carb diet plan, it's important to understand that there is also a danger in eating too much protein in the diet.

Here are the top three reasons to limit your protein intake, even on a low carb diet plan:

  1. Live Longer: Too much protein in the diet will create excess in the body, which will feed disease-causing bacteria.
  2. Limit Sugar: Eating too much protein on a low carb diet plan will cause the liver to convert the amino acids found in protein into sugar, which can feed systemic infections in the body.
  3. Improve Digestion: The body requires a large amount of energy to digest animal-based proteins. Reducing protein in the diet will help to improve digestion so that food does not ferment in the gut. 

Product Recommendations:

  • Assist Dairy & Protein

    Assist Dairy & Protein

    Maximize the Absorption of the Protein You Eat, Minimize Waste or Toxicity

    • Enjoy dairy foods again!
    • Enjoy the benefits of milk kefir without the side effects of the casein
    • Aids in the digestion of proteins from animal foods, dairy foods, nuts, seeds and legumes


  1. RR Brown, et al. Implications of interferon-induced tryptophan catabolism in cancer, autoimmune diseases, and AIDS. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1991; 294: 425 – 35.
  2. N Mizushima, et al. Autophagy Fights Disease Through Cellular Self-Digestion. Nature. February 28 2008; 451 (7182): 1069 – 1075.
  3. K Jia, et al. Autophagy is required for dietary restriction-mediated life span extension in C. elegans. Autophagy. 2007 Nov – Dec; 3 (6): 597 – 599.

Want more articles like this?

Sign up to receive weekly articles. You'll also receive a 15% off coupon, weekly articles, and tips from Donna and her team.

I'm most interested in:
  • Tom

    Most of this is bullshit.

  • OwenW

    Myth #2, where is the supporting evidence? If this actually happened in humans, then diabetics would have to watch for BG spikes after more than a few ounces of lean meat, which simply does not happen. The science behind gluconeogenesis shows that pathway is a possibility, but in reality, your body is smarter than that. Meals heavy in protein are slowed right at the stomach (that long-lasting full feeling after a heavy meal) to allow the small intestine to process smaller amounts of the high-value protein over a longer period.

    The reality is that a low carb diet is very hard to pull off if you're like me, tall and active. Even moderate exercise puts the caloric requirement for me over 3000 kcal, which (unless you like to eat sticks of butter) is a hard thing to pull off on most low carb regimens....unless you up the meat intake a bit. I'm hearing all kinds of goofy stuff on the interwebz, and this is one of them. Also, the arachidonic acid scare....silly. I'm with Paul R Buck on this, this article is confusing and most likely even misinformed.

  • type2

    Diabetes starts with a gene defect. Some extremely obese people never become diabetic. I do know of steroid induced diabetes as well.

  • Paul R Buck

    Hmm, this article brings more confusion than anything. So the basis of most low-carb diets are to limit carbs or almost completely remove them. Well to replace that, you are indeed replacing it with fat and proteins. What this article is suggesting is that you don't raise protein levels. So what do you do? Eat just fat? To me that makes absolutely no sense. For example, a Ketosis diet is 30% protein, 65% fat, and 5% carbs. At which point is it too much protein? Most body lifters who have perfect flawless bodies consume 60% protein+. Yet their bodies are amazing. What is being insinuated here, and why? I'm just wondering because most people, including myself are on these diets. If they are harmful then we need to stop them, and not make little articles which confuse everyone.

  • Valerie

    Lucy I was about to ask the same thing. I am limiting my carbs to around 50g a day but found that eating too much protein was definitely having a negative impact on weight loss and my general feeling of health. I think a high fat, low carb, moderator protein diet will be the perfect mix for me but am unsure how many grams per meal to aim for?

    I have insulin resistance so want to find a level that keeps my blood sugar/ insulin in check.

  • Nancey Savinelli, PhDc, Naturopath

    I love the guideline of the Genetic diet by D'Adamo. There is no one formula for how much protein people are supposed to eat. It depends upon their Genetic makeup. In fact, recently I introduced a DNA test focused upon weight loss SNPS and on my test I needed 45% of my diet to be protein - I was amazed. Now remember your body does turn about 55% of proteins into glucose for your body, so the body being brilliant with its' inner physician - it knows what to do. I still need a good amount of carbs, but the right ones for me via my Genetic type food testing for my clients. I love Donna's products and offer them to my clients as well. Good nutrition is a foundation for health.

  • Dennis Clark

    Hi, Donna...I was happy to find your web address in your article in my latest Bottom Line newsletter. I was even happier to find that you have some sensible advice here. You are a pleasant surprise. It is a shame that we have to do battle with so much bad advice that has become dogma. The new ChooseMyPlate program is an example. It is the USDA's latest involvement with advice on diet. It may be an improvement over that truly awful food pyramid that they used to promote. Too bad that agency completely fails to consider the impact of food combining on human health. It is also too bad that Michelle Obama endorses it, since her name will attract people to yet another bad diet. Keep up your good work! It will take a lot of folks like us to overcome federal inertia that points people in the wrong direction.

  • Monika

    I agree with some of the above - how many grams of protein is enough - does it take into account your body weight? How about EAT RIGHT 4 YOUR BLOOD TYPE? It works for me - I'm O negative.

  • Judy

    I agree with Tony Ferrao that the gluconeogenesis idea is incomplete and misleading. The body will use fat first for energy if carbs are limited. This is one reason why low-carb is so great for weight loss. The body converts amino acids to glucose if the body's stores of glycogen AND fat are low. I think an athlete or someone who's starving might have to worry about this, but most people of normal weight and activity level are not gonna be deficient in fat stores.

    I think part of what's missing here is what constitutes too much protein. Protein Power, by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, recommends starting with about 20 grams with each meal and going up based on muscle mass. A 3 ounce serving of meat is about 20g, so this is a small portion, well within the 80/20 rule. They are recommending ADEQUATE protein, not high amounts. I don't know what Atkins or the Paleo diet recommend, but the Zone diet is similar.

    We can't survive without protein and many people just don't get enough of it in proportion to the carbs they eat. I think that is part of what the so-called high protein diets seek to remedy.

    I'm back on the BED for a week now, detoxing and eager for the time when my energy increases! Thank you for the book!

  • Eileen

    Thank you for this information. I think this is what is happening to me. When we first went grain free I felt great and lost lots of weight. Now that I've been doing it for 2 years I am gaining weight again and having digestion issues with meat. I need to look into this more and figure out what I need to do to change my diet again.

  • Tara

    I love all the discussion about regaining balance and looking at our diets to see if it's working or not. I also have come to realize how territorial I've gotten about my family's diet. Bottom line, is it working or do we have to readjust? As Donna points out in this article, it's pretty obvious my family has been very protein heavy since backing off grains and cutting out gluten. It is beginning to weigh our liver and kidneys down. Time to readjust.

    There is no one perfect diet, but there are principles that work. I have always respected Donna's work as well as Weston Price Foundation and Dr. Campbell McBride. If we all keep seeking the truth, measuring results and sharing with each other in a respectful way, then we can become a healthier world. Leaving the attachment to our dogmatic beliefs is very freeing as we start to gain the health we are all after.
    Thank You Donna and all the Healthy Ripples at Body Ecology!

    Peace and Be Well,
    Tara Rayburn
    the Healthy Habit Coach

  • marta

    I find the article a bit confusing. It mentions that carbs feed bacteria, yeast and parasites, and a couple of sentences later, it says that amino acids from protein feed them too!

    It also fails to mention biological individuality - some people need more animal protein than others and have a better digestive capacity to deal with it.

    Also, what about the distinction between animal protein and plant protein???

  • Tony Ferrao

    Hi. In reading this article I would love to have seen you ellaborate more on the "reasons" listed. They seem incomplete and relatively misleading. For example, glyconeogenesis, which involves both protein and fat, is a very natural process for the human body and also limits insulin production, leading to a subsequent decrease in systematic inflammation. You do broach this a bit and as you continue to warn about excess protein intake, I feel this fact gets lost.

    Cordain and Wolf both speak to nutrient balance in their works on Paleolithic nutrition better than Atkins. Sisson also addresses it with the Primal Blueprint. All low carb diets that specifically cover why we should not eat grains and other anti-nutrient containing foods.

    I agree that too much of anything is bad. Moreover, if people concentrate on limitimg starchy carb intake while getting adequate amounts of dark leafy greens, fiberoous veggies, fresh seasonal fruits as theirt carbohydrates with animal fat and protein, hormonal regulation of hunger will kick in (PYY, etc.) and it would be hard to over consume at that point. Animal protein is not evil, nor is protein in general. Conversly, it is extremely important, as is fat, in almost every tissue, neurotransmitter, hormone and enzyme produced in the body. We need protein! And we need more than the flimsy 40 to 50 grams a day I have heard many dieticians recommend.

    Thank you for your posts!

  • Lucy

    Hello! How many grams/day and /meal is a good amount. In other words, what would you say is too much?

Community Poll

What Health Topics Are You Most Interested In?

Free Shipping!

Free Shipping on any order over $50

Join Our Community


Information and statements regarding dietary supplements/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is a result of years of practice and experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.