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High Protein Diet: Pros and Cons You Should Know!

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

A high protein diet is made up of about 20% of protein while a very high protein diet is composed of 30% protein. It is said that the diet of an average American comprises about 12-16% of protein.

Nutritionists recommend a diet high in protein for bodybuilders to build up muscles and cut down fat. The principle of high protein diet is the same with low carbohydrate diets. Once there is a restriction on carbohydrates, the body begins to burn body fat for energy, a process known as ketosis. Ketosis promotes* weight loss*.

Effects of Reducing* Carbohydrates

Consuming much protein can help you feel full quicker and stay full for a long time. Protein can somehow help fight off carbohydrate cravings that help control* appetite and assists in the burning* of calories in our bodies.

Limiting carbohydrates denies the body of easy and accessible source of energy, which then causes the breaking down of the body fat as an alternate source of energy. This manner brings about weight loss*. Additionally, as compared to carbohydrates that are easily digested, the body utilizes more energy in breaking down protein, meaning while metabolism more calories are burned. This process of using fat as the source of energy instead of sugar is called ketosis.

Ketosis is a process that results from the production of ketone bodies, which are known acidic. If there is a buildup of ketone bodies in the blood, particularly among diabetics, a possible grave condition known as ketoacidosis may happen. It is very vital to take plenty of water to lower the level of ketones in the blood. The different signs and symptoms of having ketoacidosis are nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fruity-smelling breath, and deep and fast breathing.

Food Choices

Opt for proteins which are lean such as fish, turkey and chicken. If you want non-animal sources of protein, beans, nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy products are good sources of protein. Much protein supplements and powders are made from whey protein. The total protein intake should be in relation with body mass. The National Institutes of Medicine recommends about 0.8 grams/kg of body weight each day.

High Protein Diet – Pros

  • Partaking in a diet that is high in protein usually results in fast weight loss*. The Stillman Diet admits that an individual can lose* about 30 pounds (13.5 kg) in just 28 days.
  • Protein is very vital for renewing all cells of the body, not just the muscle cells. Skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage and blood cells greatly benefit from foods rich in proteins. Protein is also very vital for the production of hormones, enzymes and another necessary chemical process.
  • Consuming foods high in protein stimulates lean muscle mass growth and maintenance.
  • Diets that are low in carbohydrates and sugar have been associated with enhanced* concentration.
  • According to a professor from the University of Illinois, Mr. Donald Layman, patients with osteoporosis, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and sarcopenia can greatly benefit from increased protein intake.
  • A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have showed that women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can benefit from a diet that is high in protein.

High Protein Diet – Cons

  • Meat products that are high in protein also contain high animal fats. Animal fats that are typically saturated fats and cholesterol; and these types of fats are known to raise the risk of certain kinds of cancer and heart disease.
  • Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of vitamins such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, minerals and antioxidants. Moreover, removing* fruits and vegetables from daily diet can increase* the risk for vitamin and mineral deficiency.
  • Without fruits and vegetables, you are eliminating the important source of dietary fiber. This may lead to irritable bowel movement, constipation and diverticulitis.
  • If you are in a high protein diet, it is most likely that you have body odor due to the accumulation of ketones. To make sure that this will not happen, drink plenty of water to dilute the ketones.
  • According to studies, weight loss* from a diet that is high in protein in not considered a long-term solution when it comes to obesity and the diets effectiveness is mainly because of water loss.

Conclusion

A diet high in protein can keep you full for an extended time and is great for building the body and developing the muscles, as well for losing weight. However, diets that are focused on high protein are short on fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates which are very vital to the health of the body. Any form of diet that includes eliminating large numbers of foods needs careful observation.