Whey protein and Gout

Gout and Whey Protein

Can Whey Protein Supplements cause Gout?

I often get the question asked, usually from weightlifters or bodybuilders, about whey protein or protein shakes being good for gout. In this post we will take a closer look at whey protein and gout. Whey protein is basically milk made of two proteins called casein and whey. Whey is the watery portion of the milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. Whey protein is considered a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids.

Whey protein supplements, usually in the form of powder are popular amongst bodybuilders and athletes because these supplements are often advertised as a way of building and maintaining muscle since amino acids are depleted following a workout. Whey protein is a supplement that also has high levels of lactoferrin which helps your body heal quickly and is also 20% of the protein found in milk. Obviously these whey protein supplements have a much higher concentration of protein. In fact, whey is the best source of natural proteins.

The simple truth is that your body can only use so much protein in a day. Consuming too much protein will put an added strain on your liver and kidneys which work very hard to filter out the waste created during protein synthesis. Uric acid levels go higher due to this and you may end up with a gout flare or gout attack.

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Although whey protein is derived from cow’s milk and contains small amounts of purines, you may want to limit the amount of whey protein you consume. Take precaution before increasing your protein load with whey supplements since you suffer from gout. Furthermore, high protein intake can also contribute to kidney stones since as gout sufferers we are more susceptible.

The truth is but many don’t want to believe it (cause the companies promoting whey protein to athletes have basically convinced them that you if you train hard you need to ingest tons of whey protein) is that your body doesn’t need that much protein at all to repair muscle from physical activity. Science proves it in numerous studies particularly in this University of Texas study which found that 4 ounces of protein from meat a day was more than enough to repair the muscles of Ironman triathlon athletes! The need for more protein is widely exaggerated by the whey protein supplements industry. Everybody’s gotta make a fast buck somehow!

A typical serving of whey powder is about 90 calories with about 20 grams of protein per serving which is a lot of protein for the small amount in calories. Remember to stick to the 10% daily calories protein-intake limit as per my ebook and you’ll do fine. As gout sufferers we must stick to this threshold to avoid higher uric acid levels and other gout complications down the road.

When deciding whether to use whey protein supplements, discuss it beforehand with your doctor. Your doctor will have the information needed about your kidney status, is familiar with the medications you are taking to treat gout and can evaluate your muscle status.

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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  • Augustin Biswas

    Reply Reply October 22, 2017

    Hi Spiro,
    Thank you for all the information you provided, it was indeed helpful.
    I have uric acid issues and both my knees hurt when I consume too much of purine based products.
    Considering, everything you mentioned above I have decided to go for this protein shake (link below). Could you please advise if this would be less harmful.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply October 22, 2017

      Hi Augustin!

      Maybe by a little bit but you can’t disguise protein. Protein is protein at the end of the day.

  • Dameon Do

    Reply Reply August 14, 2017

    Also I previously mentioned activity levels prior to the study activity but also during the study “Subjects remained largely physically inactive (i.e., rested in bed) for the duration of the study. “

  • Dameon Do

    Reply Reply August 14, 2017

    I know the body building and even the power lifting communities are filled with various supplement companies trying to sell this or that as the next new thing. I found your article interesting and wanted to inquire more about the science involved from the linked article.

    From the article linked and this article I noticed that the focus was on muscle repair after excercise. What about muscle growth? I.e. growth versus maintaining muscle and muscle repair after excercise?

    Also the study was done in a rested state “For seventy-two hours prior to admission, participants were asked to maintain their normal diet and avoided strenuous activity.” Without the variable of strenuous body building or power lifting does the study apply to these activities?

    Lastly, the weight of the individuals was 79.2±7 kg for the younger group and 77.5±8 kg for the older. With body weights greater or lesser might protein needs increase? I.e. might a 220lb weight lifter need more protein than a 168lb triathlete given their individual lean muscle masses?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply August 15, 2017

      Hi Dameon!

      This is what too much protein shakes can do for you:


      That’s right! They can kill you!

      Forget about all these metrics. Let’s simplify it. The so called “blue zones” where people live the longest don’t eat much protein. The Mayan Indians and the tribesmen of Brazil who live off the land eating complex carbs are the ones that live longest and disease free. We in the West are the biggest consumers of animal protein and suffer from diseases and obesity. Of course sugar plays a huge role as well but too much protein is not good for your liver and kidneys, they put a strain on it cause it takes many hours to break it down compared to vegetables. Why don’t you try replacing these shakes with more beans in your diet? Experiment and see. I’ll bet you’ll perform at a higher level and feel better. As for the weights, in general yes, the heavier you are the more protein you may require. Maybe an ounce or 2 extra than the average person. Nothing crazy.

  • Jesus M

    Reply Reply July 25, 2017

    Hi…since the whey is causing all kind of gout attacks, do you know if the egg based protein shakes are causing them too?

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply July 25, 2017

      Protein is protein so best to cap it at 10% of daily calories although protein from plant based sources like beans, your body will metabolize them differently. Basically healthier for you. Again don’t miss the point that your body doesn’t need that much protein in the first place, that’s what the article is about.

  • Sam Fitzpatrick

    Reply Reply July 6, 2017

    Thank you for this information.

    I started back at the gym about a month ago and started taking whey protein supplements. Last week I had a bad gout flare up and the supplements are the only thing added to my diet.

    Do you know if the same applies for creatine?

  • Joseph Grabowski

    Reply Reply May 12, 2017

    After consuming Whey Protein back in 2006 I recently attempted I’d try it again to confirm that mega supplementation of this product DOES cause Gout!
    It makes me walk like a “stick figure”!
    And after not consuming it for 3 days now my legs are much less stiff / my gate has improved.
    Will now be pursuing other avenues of Protein Supplementation.

  • sagar grover

    Reply Reply March 19, 2017

    My uric acid level is 7.7 and I have kidney stones also. So please tell me can I use whey protein ( pure whey isolate) as I workout in gym lil’ hard. Please tell me if I can take? My age is 25.

    • Spiro Koulouris

      Reply Reply March 20, 2017

      Hi Sagar!

      No you don’t need all that extra protein if you train hard at the gym. If you eat 4-5 ounces of lean chicken breast, you’ll get all the protein your body needs or try some beans instead. Thing is since you already suffer from gout, you are more prone to raise your uric acid levels if you take the whey protein so I would avoid it if I were you.

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    Reply Reply January 18, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this informative post. I just started working out so I’m gathering all the information I would need.

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