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J Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;148(11):1760-1775. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy197.

Changes in Kidney Function Do Not Differ between Healthy Adults Consuming Higher- Compared with Lower- or Normal-Protein Diets: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada.
Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Science.
Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology.
Health Sciences Library, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.



Higher-protein (HP) diets are advocated for several reasons, including mitigation of sarcopenia, but their effects on kidney function are unclear.


This meta-analysis was conducted to determine the effect of HP intakes on kidney function in healthy adults.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of trials comparing HP (≥1.5 g/kg body weight or ≥20% energy intake or ≥100 g protein/d) with normal- or lower-protein (NLP; ≥5% less energy intake from protein/d compared with HP group) intakes on kidney function. Medline and EMBASE databases were searched. Randomized controlled trials comparing the effects of HP with NLP (>4 d duration) intakes on glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in adults without kidney disease were included.


A total of 2144 abstracts were reviewed, with 40 articles selected for full-text review; 28 of these were analyzed and included data from 1358 participants. Data were analyzed using random-effects meta-analysis (RevMan 5; The Cochrane Collaboration), meta-regression (STATA; StataCorp), and dose-response analysis (Prism; GraphPad). Analyses were conducted using postintervention (post) GFR and the change in GFR from preintervention to post. The post-only comparison showed a trivial effect for GFR to be higher after HP intakes [standardized mean difference (SMD): 0.19; 95% CI: 0.07, 0.31; P = 0.002]. The change in GFR did not differ between interventions (SMD: 0.11; 95% CI: -0.05, 0.27; P = 0.16). There was a linear relation between protein intake and GFR in the post-only comparison (r = 0.332, P = 0.03), but not between protein intake and the change in GFR (r = 0.184, P = 0.33). The main limitation of the current analysis is the unclear risk of selection bias of the included trials.


Postintervention GFR comparisons indicate that HP diets result in higher GFRs; however, when changes in GFR were compared, dietary protein had no effect. Our analysis indicates that HP intakes do not adversely influence kidney function on GFR in healthy adults.

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