Engaging in bodybuilding is often considered an unhealthy practice. Most of the time, this criticism is related to the use of various pharmaceutical drugs that are popular among those who seek added muscle mass. Such drugs include anabolic steroids, which are synthetic, restructured forms of testosterone, growth hormone, and others. The fact that regularly using these drugs, especially without medical supervision, can be hazardous to health is unquestionable. Although the use of these drugs is most often favored by competitive athletes, including bodybuilders, recently published surveys suggest that the largest population of steroid and other anabolic drug users are non-competitive people who "just want to look good." The folly and psychology of using drugs that can endanger your health in the belief that they will make you appear more impressive than just diet and training alone are beyond the scope of this article.
But it isn't just drug use that leads to the condemnation of bodybuilding (which is defined as regularly engaging in resistance exercise, such as lifting weights and other forms of exercise to induce an increase in muscular mass), but also some of the dietary practices that are common in bodybuilding. Perhaps the most controversial of such nutrition practices is the consumption of a high protein diet. Registered dieticians often voice warnings in numerous blogs and websites about the alleged danger of habitual consumption of a high protein intake. Among the many problems they cite are dehydration, or the loss of water that occurs when consuming a higher protein intake. This loss of water is related to the necessity to excrete the primary nitrogen breakdown product of protein metabolism, namely urea. Urea is produced in the liver when amino acids from protein are processed, The nitrogen portion of protein, which comprises 16% of protein, is converted into urea, a water-soluble substance that is then sent to the kidneys for excretion. But the excretion of urea does require a lot of water to pass through the kidneys in order to process the urea. Clearly, the more protein you consume, the greater will be your urea excretion, since not all the protein you consume will be used for muscle-building purposes. Indeed, those who consume huge amounts of protein each day, such as over 300 grams, are excreting large amounts of urea, and along with the urea excretion comes excretion of accompanying water used to process that urea. As such, this led to the idea that consuming a high protein diet can cause dehydration. What this notion fails to consider, however, is that the body is constantly excreting water from both internal and external sources. If you drink sufficient water and consume foods that are largely composed of water, such as fruits and vegetables, the odds of becoming dehydrated from consuming a high protein intake are nil.
Another critique of high protein diets is that they promote the excretion of . . .