Pass on the protein shake – research has found that high-protein diets may lead to a shortened lifespan…

High protein diets may be great for increasing muscle mass, but there are side effects from long-term high protein intake or from consuming certain types of amino acids.

Excessive consumption of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may reduce lifespan, negatively impact mood and lead to weight gain.

This is according to research by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, Professor Stephen Simpson and Dr Samantha Solon-Biet.

What are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)?

BCAAs are essential amino acids present in protein-containing foods, with red meat and dairy being the richest sources.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Chicken, fish and eggs are also nutritious sources of BCAAs. Vegetarians can find BCAAs in beans, lentils, nuts and soy proteins.

Whey protein – the most popular form of fitness protein (often used in protein shakes) – is made from dairy by-products and contains high levels of BCAA.

Balance is key

“While diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates were shown to be beneficial for reproductive function, they had detrimental effects for health in mid-late life, and also led to a shortened lifespan,” says Dr Solon-Biet.

“What this new research has shown is that amino acid balance is important – it’s best to vary sources of protein to ensure you’re getting the best amino acid balance.”

Qualified dietitian and public health nutritionist from the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences Dr Rosilene Ribeiro recommends eating a wide range of proteins.

It’s important to vary protein sources in order to get a variety of essential amino acids, through a healthy and balanced diet rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Source: University of Sydney via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.