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Does Whey Protein Powder Cause Gout?

Posted Jan 28 2010 12:00am
January 28th, 2010 Posted in ,

Generally I address those questions through e-mail, but often I do not have the time to reply to each and every question personally.

From now on I want to take a more proactive approach to answering Your Health Questions by posting them separately in the blog. This way we can be sure that everyone benefits from the Q & A.

“I am 61 and in generally good shape, bicycled for years (at least 1000 miles per year).

The past two years I’ve converted to weight training (three days a week) plus spinning (three days a week). I’ve always been thin 6′2 – 195lbs.

Joined a gym 2 months ago (with a personal trainer)and really haven’t seen the results I’ve been looking for. I’ve reduced my body fat but haven’t seen any gains in muscle mass. I feel better but would also like to look better.

Also I just had another issue arise – a minor case of gout. I have been using a Whey protein drink 40 grams a day and need to know if Whey based supplements contain large amounts Purine (the largest contributer to gout).

I’m looking for info for us ‘old guys’ that haven’t given up.”

Well Jim, you have come to the right place. To help you ‘look better’, I suggest you check out one of the Project Swole workout routines for gaining muscle.

I would like to suggest any of the following routines:

Your personal trainer is probably a putz and won’t be able to give you a really great workout routine for one reason or another. Forget going that route.

Simple stated: whey protein doesn’t cause gout. Do not worry, consuming protein powder is not the reason you developed gout. Let me shed some more light on the subject.

The symptoms of gout – most often initially experienced on the big toe – are redness around a joint, accompanied by inflammation, stiffness, and intense pain. Other areas commonly affected are wrists, fingers, elbows, and ankles. Sometimes gout can be so severe that the touch of fabric such as bed sheets and clothes is virtually unbearable.

Gout is the concentration of uric acid crystals in the joints of cooler parts of your body, such as the hands or feet. Uric acid can also build up under the skin – a condition called tophi – or secreted as kidney stones. Ouch!

Uric acid is a waste product of the oxidation of purines (imidazo[4,5-d]pyrimidine), which are present in uric acid, caffeine, the nucleic acids Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), as well as GTP, ATP, NADH, cyclic AMP, and co-enzyme A. You will have to do your own research to find out more about most of those compounds, but I will tell you that DNA and RNA are your main sources of dietary purines.

Nucleic acids reside in the nuclei of cells, which are prevalent in the animal and vegetable foods that we eat. They encode genetic information as long chains of the four bases guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine. The oxidation of guanine and adenine is what produces uric acid.

Alcohol and foods high in purines such as seafood, legumes, red meat, and organ meat (like that used in hot dogs, sausages, and other ground meat) are most often linked to gout. In a 12 year study of 47,000 adult men, those who ate the most red meat or seafood increased their risk of gout by as much as 50%.

To find purine free food, you must look for food that does not have cell nuclei.

Some examples of purine-free foods include:

  • milk
  • cottage cheese
  • mozzarella
  • whey protein
  • egg whites
  • pulp-free fruit juices

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that a higher consumption of non-fermented dairy products has been associated with a decreased risk of gout. Furthermore, a low-to-moderate intake of vegetable and animal proteins (foods that have purines) is not associated with an increased risk of gout.

Interestingly, fermented milk products such as yogurt and aged cheese do contain purines because bacterial cells develop during the fermentation process.

A diet designed to prevent gout should derive its protein content from egg whites (instead of whole eggs) and milk products, and should eliminate or substantially reduce consumption of meats and seafood. Many purine-free foods can be used in a wide variety of delicious recipes to create a menu low in purines. Protein shakes, fruit smoothies, custards, and salads are just some examples of ultra-low-purine meals.

To help treat gout you must avoid excessive exercise, strict diets, and diets high in animal or fish protein. Atkins should be strictly forbidden for anyone with a history of gout. These types of activities and dietary strategies facilitates the breakdown of bodily tissues, which increases the development of uric acid.

Extremely obese patients typically have higher levels of uric acid to begin with, so those who are attempting to lose weight should be monitored for ketone presence in the urine (ketosis), a sure sign of increased uric acid. However, studies have shown that a decrease in body weight while following a low calorie 40/30/30 (C/P/F) Zone-style diet can decrease the levels of serum uric acid. Therefore it is clearly more beneficial for obese patients to lose weight first before worrying too much about their uric acid profile.

Also, water is extremely important for flushing uric acid and ketones out of the system.

I declare that there are few, if any, gout-related side effects that can result from supplementing with whey protein. In fact I have said in my post about the side effects of whey protein, that supplementing with protein powder has little to no side-effects at all. Take this knowledge and feel good about picking up some Optimum Nutrition Protein Powder today.


Written by Steve
Steve is a formerly ISSA certified personal trainer and sport nutritionist, who has been studying, practicing, and experimenting since 1994. Please use the content at Project Swole to supplement the advice of your doctor or physician. All medical questions should be directed towards a qualified medical professional, and the advice provided at Project Swole should be used at your own discretion.

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