Is A High Protein Diet Right For You?


Like any effective diet plan, high protein diets work for some people. Many have lost weight, build bigger muscles, improve their athletic performance, and even improve their overall health. However, just like with any other diet plan, there are some concerns among health professionals regarding this.

High Protein Diet Concerns

There are many people who have joined and are still joining this high-protein low-carb movement without doing their due diligence. Many of them think they can just consume as much protein as they like without any consequences; however, many nutrition experts are urging you to be cautious.

One of the main reason is that high-protein low-carb diets may lead to weight loss. Now when people eat lots of protein but cut back on their carbohydrate intake, their metabolism changes into a state called ketosis. What ketosis means is that the body changes from burning carbohydrates for fuel to burning its own fat…

When this fat is broken down, small pieces of carbon known as ketones are released into the bloodstream as energy sources. Ketosis, which also occurs in diabetes tends to suppress appetite, causing people to eat less. This also increases the body’s elimination of fluids through urine, resulting in a loss of water weight.

* Higher Levels of Amonia in the Body

According to Christopher D. Gardner, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., “High-protein diets like the Atkins regimen may trade short-term benefits for long-term health consequences. Among the risks: The body produces ammonia when it breaks down protein. No one knows the long-term risks of higher levels of ammonia in the body.”

* Calcium Loss Could Lead to Osteoporosis

There is also evidence to suggest that people who eat high-protein diets typically excrete excess calcium in their urine, according to Deborah Sellmeyer, MD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Center for Osteoporosis at the University of California at San Francisco.

What this suggest is that the body is releasing stores of calcium into the bloodstream to counteract an increase in acids caused by protein consumption. Too much calcium loss could lead to osteoporosis down the road, Sellmeyer says.

* And Then There Are the Obvious Concerns

Foods that contain carbohydrates are normally shunned by some people on high-protein low-carb diets. These include fruits and vegetables which are the best sources for vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. These are nutrients that help to prevent diseases.

On the other hand, animal foods that are high in protein are usually also high in saturated fats. These could increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, several types of cancer, and other ailments.

questiontooSo What Should You Do?

At this point in time, eating a high-protein diet appears to be safe and effective for short periods of up to six months; however, no one really knows what effects this diet can have on the body if consumed for long periods.

Based on a study done by Frank Hu, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, it would seem that high protein diets may increase fat burning in the body, they may also increase satiety (the sense of being “full” or “satisfied” after a meal), and decrease subsequent energy (calorie) intake by the body. They may even lead to weight loss.

On the other hand: Protein can be converted by the body into glucose for energy; however it takes about twice as much effort as converting carbohydrates or fats into glucose. The extra effort translates into fewer calories available.

When it comes to feeling full, the clinical studies consistently showed that high-protein diets increase satiety and decrease hunger compared with high-fat or high-carbohydrate diets. In addition, most but not all of the studies reviewed showed that most people on high-protein diets took in about 10% less energy (roughly 200 calories) per day, which could account for at least some of the weight loss seen with this type of diet.

Here’s what Frank Hu further had to say at a recent symposium on the science of obesity.

“There is some evidence that high-protein diets induce great fat loss. On average, high-protein diets produced an average weight loss that was about 4.5 lbs greater than what was achieved on other diets after six months.

“Most of the studies showed results for up to six months, but after six months they begin to lose effectiveness. This happened either because people do not adhere to this diet very well in the long term, or because they get used to the diet biologically,” Hu said. “So in the long term the high-protein diets tend to lose their ability to maintain the weight.”

Well there you have it.

The optimum effectiveness of our body is very important in order for us to live our lives to the fullest potential. Our body has the power to combat many of the obstacles thrown at it daily; however, sometimes it needs something extra in order for us to accomplish more at a higher level.

You might need additional nutrients to help you become better at what you do. You might need protein supplementation to help you get to the next level. Whether its building more muscles, losing weight, or just getting a boost in your physical appearance you might need some help. But always do your due diligence to make sure you understand the implications that might be involved.