High Protein Diets
Protein Diets: Fact vs. Fiction
An apparently endless barrage of advertisements, magazine cover lines, advice columns, and Hollywood imagery implore America to lose weight. Weight loss today has become an industry rather than a health recommendation. The vigorously promoted methods seem to vary in sensibility and credibility as much as their appointed spokespeople do. READ MORE
For the media-shocked consumer, a single message, certainly unintended by promoters and advertisers, rises from the racket: Choose any plan you can manage, it doesn’t matter which one, and just drop the pounds. Lose the weight at any cost — and lose it right now.
So What Makes a Good Diet?
There is more to a body-smart diet than weight loss. An ideal diet will lessen abdominal fat, and the threat of chronic disease will be reduced as well. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases will diminish in probability. Longevity will be promoted.
Your systems and organs will be provided with all the nutrients they require, so you will be satiated and in homeostatic balance. The plan will be sustainable beyond an initial period. The integration of exercise will likewise improve vitality and stave off unnecessary weight gain for years to come.
You will live a healthy life, and enjoy it. Maximize your health. That’s the target. LESS
How Protein Diets Measure UpREAD MORE
But these diets are not necessarily a panacea for exemplary health. Associated risks have been identified, with further research necessary. High-protein diets (or to characterize the best of them, moderately increased protein diets) do not necessarily meet all the desirable, lifelong criteria outlined above.
Losing Weight or Just Water?
High-protein diets promote water loss. To the glee of the new dieter, the bathroom scale can show as much as 10 fewer pounds at the end of the first week. Initial loss is not due so much to burning fat as to losing water.
That’s because an increase in protein naturally makes for an increase of bodily substances and wastes produced as protein is broken down and metabolized. Urea, a byproduct of protein, is eliminated through the kidneys, and in an effort to flush excess urea, the kidneys use more body water. High-protein diets in this way increase urination (the diuretic effect) and, therefore, loss of water.
As you might expect, these diets requires a lot of work from the kidneys, and are not usually recommended for people with kidney problems or disease as they may speed progression of renal failure. Indeed, low protein diets are recommended for these groups.
Outside of a diet plan, the running health recommendation is to receive between 10% and 35% of one’s dietary calories from protein, with the rest coming from carbohydrates and fats. In high-protein diets, the protein percentage jumps to between 30% and 50%.
Concerns about these high protein diets often revolve around the nutrients sacrificed in the name of weight loss. Regimens tend to deemphasize grains (since carbs are on the outs), fruits, and vegetables, all foods that are associated with decreased cancer risk. Most high-protein diets also recommend increased animal products as a primary protein source — but animal proteins, being high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and low in fiber, are associated with higher cancer risks.
While there are demonstrated benefits to high-protein diets, the health impact of sustaining them for long periods is as yet undetermined. For now, your desire or need to decrease body fat should be weighed against potential risks. Consult your physician before pursuing any drastic changes to your dietary and exercise regimens. LESS
Calcium Cost in Protein DietsREAD MORE
However, the hypothesis has not been supported by clinical studies. Quite the contrary, in fact, since high-protein intake can actually increase absorption of calcium through the intestines as well as increasing calcium excretion in urine. When calcium intake is adequate, a high-protein diet stands to increase bone mass and bone strength.
Flipping the calcium pros and cons once more, though, is the fact increased calcium passing through kidneys and into urine may increase the risk of kidney stones, which are largely made of calcium. LESS
Ketosis: The Key Change in Energy UsageREAD MORE
The state in which body fat is used for fuel is called ketosis. With the breakdown of fat, small bits of carbon called ketones are released as a byproduct. It is the ketones, produced in the liver, that serve as the alternate energy source.
You will drop weight when your body is in ketosis. But in time you may also experience, to varying degrees, a range of symptoms that can include headaches, bad breath, nausea, and heart palpitations.
Nutrition scientists simply do not yet know whether living in a ketogenic state for long periods of time is healthy or not. High-protein diets have not been studied for long enough periods for the relevant health data to be collected and analyzed. LESS