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Why Do High Protein Diets Make One Urinate More?

By Sam Amico ; Updated July 27, 2017

A high-protein diet is a diet in which 20 percent or more of your calories each day come from protein. It also emphasizes a restriction on carbohydrates, causing the body to burn stored body fat rather than glucose for energy. This process is called “ketosis,” which is possibly one reason why you may urinate more when you follow a protein diet. A more likely reason is the fact that a protein diets generally includes increased water consumption.

Protein Diet History

High protein diets became mainstream in the 1990s with the advent of the Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet was the brainchild of Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist who started the plan in an effort to lose weight himself. Atkins claimed that a diet consisting primarily of proteins derived from poultry, beef, eggs and fish assisted weight loss and fought off disease and improved energy levels. Since then, many similar plans have followed suit.

Protein Diet Plan

Protein diets feature foods from the poultry, beef, eggs and fish categories, and severely limits carbohydrate rich options such as breads, pasta, fruit and starchy vegetables. For instance, dieters on a protein plan might have a bacon cheeseburger with mayonnaise and mustard for lunch, but not eat the bun. Steak and bacon would be fine for dinner, as long as the meal is not complemented with a potato. Sugars and caffeine are almost entirely forbidden as well.

Protein Diets and Water

Since protein diets are low in fiber and high in sodium, most recommend drinking anywhere from seven to 10 glasses of water per day. Water helps the digestive system, increases metabolism and rids the body of toxins. It also assists the functions of key organs such as the kidneys and liver. Needless to say, anyone who increases their water intake is likely to urinate more as they flush the body.

Protein Diets and Ketosis

Ketosis occurs when the body takes in less than 100g of carbohydrates per day. Protein diets typically limit carb intake to less than 50g per day--and many keep it at less than 20g per day during the first two weeks (also known as the “induction” phase). This causes the body to form ketones, or molecules that form during the breakdown of fat. Most ketones are harmless and are even beneficial when used for energy. However, acetone is a ketone that is not used for energy, and is simply emitted from the body as waste. This is possibly one reason why someone following a protein diet may tend to urinate frequently.


Medical experts have expressed concern about the long-term effects of high protein diets on the kidneys, liver and heart. However, such plans have proven to assist with weight loss, and there is no evidence that protein diets will have a negative impact on overall health. Either way, chances are that anyone who urinates frequently while following a protein plan is doing things right--as it likely means the increased water intake and ketosis are simply at work.

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