Bodybuilding supplement practices can harm kidneys, study says

The new study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health​. It was the work of researchers associated with two universities and a hospital in England.

The researchers collected 13 studies published since the year 2000 that described incidences of kidney disease in bodybuilders. The reports covered 75 bodybuilders in total.

The authors broke out effects of supplementation strategies on kidney function among these athletes into several buckets. Those include protein dosing, creatine supplementation, vitamin use as well as several that pertain to the legal (or not legal) pharmaceutical realm including the use of diuretics, NSAIDs as well as supplementing with various anabolic steroids.

High protein intakes only weakly implicated

The review found that bodybuilders typically consume far more protein than health authorities recommend for the general population. The intakes can range from 2 grams per kilogram of body weight a day up to 5g/kg or even more. In one report of bodybuilders with kidney damage the intakes hit an incredible peak of 30g/kg a day. For a 95 kg bodybuilder that would equate to more than 10,000 calories a day in protein alone.

Yet the authors also stated that even with these high intakes, protein by itself was not universally implicated in kidney problems.

“Other studies have found no detrimental effects of isolated high-protein diets, albeit consumed for relatively brief periods,”​ the authors stated.

More concern about creatine, high vitamin doses

Creatine supplementation by the bodybuilders was similarly elevated far above what is recommended for average individuals. Creatine monohydrate was the form mentioned in research, and for the average person 3 to 5 grams a day is considered to be enough. The bodybuilders commonly took as much as 20 g/day in a ‘loading’ phase and then cut back to a lower maintenance dose.


Leave a Comment