Protein is an essential nutrient that is important to your health. However a lot of people today are obsessed with protein in their diet and eat way too much of it.
People who go on high-protein diets to lose weight are in fact, starving themselves and loosing water, which is why they are so successful in losing weight in the short-term.
Misconceptions like “protein is good, fat is bad”, “high protein diets make you slim” and that “you can’t ever get too much protein”, is absolutely incorrect.
When eaten in large quantities, protein is very difficult to digest compared to carbohydrates and fats. Protein not only slows down, but also blocks the digestion of carbohydrates and fats, leading to undigested food and obesity.
Our bodies are designed to burn nutrients for fuel in a very specific way. Carbohydrates are the main fuel source. When they are depleted, the body chooses fats next, the one nutrient designed specifically for storage and reserving energy. Only when fats are depleted, protein, the body’s main structural component is used, but only when severe depletion of carbohydrates and fats occur, a state commonly known as starvation or ketosis.
Protein for energy is primarily used to build cellular structures – NOT to create energy – metabolizing protein for energy is an incredibly inefficient way for the body to produce fuel.
Below is a circular issued by the American Heart Association:
Dietary Protein and Weight Reduction-From the Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association.
High-protein diets have recently been proposedas a “new” strategy for successful weight loss. However, variationsof these diets have been popular since the 1960s. High-proteindiets typically offer wide latitude in protein food choices,are restrictive in other food choices (mainly carbohydrates),and provide structured eating plans. They also often promotemisconceptions about carbohydrates, insulin resistance, ketosis,and fat burning as mechanisms of action for weight loss. Althoughthese diets may not be harmful for most healthy people for ashort period of time, there are no long-term scientific studiesto support their overall efficacy and safety. These diets aregenerally associated with higher intakes of total fat, saturatedfat, and cholesterol because the protein is provided mainlyby animal sources. In high-protein diets, weight loss is initiallyhigh due to fluid loss related to reduced carbohydrate intake,overall caloric restriction, and ketosis-induced appetite suppression.Beneficial effects on blood lipids and insulin resistance aredue to the weight loss, not to the change in caloric composition.Promoters of high-protein diets promise successful results byencouraging high-protein food choices that are usually restrictedin other diets, thus providing initial palatability, an attractivealternative to other weight-reduction diets that have not workedfor a variety of reasons for most individuals. High-proteindiets are not recommended because they restrict healthful foodsthat provide essential nutrients and do not provide the varietyof foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. Individualswho follow these diets are therefore at risk for compromisedvitamin and mineral intake, as well as potential cardiac, renal,bone, and liver abnormalities overall.
If that’s not enough, another reason why High Protein Diets Are dangerous is because excess meat consumption for high protein produces acid in the body causing acidosis which is associated with almost every disease. Acidosis also leads to calcium deficiency which results in weakening of the bones (osteoporosis).
To recommend high-protein diets to children and adolescents is very dangerous. Complex carbohydrates must be the key to every child’s eating plan. They are crucial for the rapid energy production required by active lives and allow for the proper balance of structure and function required by the developing nervous system.
A well-rounded vegetarian diet provides more than enough protein to maintain a healthy body. A diet rich in animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol raises harmful LDL cholesterol levels increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, strokes and several types of cancer. In contrast, a diet high in complex carbohydrates that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been shown to reduce blood pressure and better the over all health.
The truth is that Protein overload may be a more serious problem than protein deficiency. Make your choices wisely.
Written by Sejal Vora