As is common throughout the health industry, specialty methods of meal planning like high protein diets make regular comebacks as be-all-end-all health solutions. However, while there are several distinctive benefits to refocusing your diet to better include additional protein in the foods that you eat, the ultimate verdict is that a completely well-balanced diet is the best for your overall and long term well being.
High protein diets typically require that you increase the amount of protein that you eat at the cost of certain other types of foods. In most cases, as in the Atkins diet and several other popular diet trends of recent years, this means that you’ll increase the amount of protein you take in while decreasing the carbohydrates that you eat. Read on for some of the benefits and risks of a high protein diet.
Benefit 1: Food Costs
High protein diets do not require any special type of food or ingredient. This means that, relative to other specialty diets at least, they tend to be quite inexpensive. You can continue to eat regular foods and do not need to go out searching for unusual ingredients.
Benefit 2: Metabolism Benefits
Protein takes longer for your body to process and break down than most other types of foods that you can eat. This is the major benefit of a high protein diet; you’ll continue to feel full for several hours after eating a meal that is predominantly protein. This will decrease your desire to continue eating and, ultimately, to lower the number of calories that you take in. The result of this is that you’ll likely lose a fair amount of weight.
Risk 1: Metabolic Disturbance
The single greatest risk that you take when you limit the number of carbohydrates you ingest in favor of protein is a major metabolic disturbance that is physiologically equivalent to diabetes. Diabetic patients can no longer produce chemicals and compounds necessary to break down carbohydrates like sugars. When you stop ingesting carbohydrates in the same level as your body requires, you stop creating the necessary compounds as well, mimicking diabetes. This means that you put yourself at a greatly elevated risk of developing the symptoms of diabetes.
Risk 2: Long Term Effectiveness Is Negligible
Most patients on a high protein diet who then stop the diet find that any weight that they lost will develop almost immediately once again. This is because your body has lost weight due to a shortage of certain important compounds and nutrients. As soon as you begin refeeding those nutrients, you’ll regain the weight.
Risk 3: Fat Intake
Proteins are found in meats and nuts, primarily. All of the foods that are high in protein, with the exception of soy based products like tofu, are relatively high in fat. In the case of nuts, there are good fats as well as bad fats. However, meats (and particularly red meat) are high in trans and saturated fats that may pose more severe long term health risks than the benefits of a high protein diet are worth.