The Low Fat High Protein Diet: Is it Safe?

It seems like every week there is some new low fat/high protein diet craze that limits one food group or another. One of the more well known diets is the Atkins diet. This type of diet recommends that the user consumes most of the daily calories through lean protein, like turkey and chicken, while restricting foods that are high in carbohydrates, like breads and pastas. But are these diets safe?


Diets like Atkins eliminate many foods from the dieter’s eating plan, including those foods that are considered part of the daily necessary food intake. Some foods are allowed, but only on an occasional basis, and protein is the bulk of the daily calorie intake, with only a small amount of calories coming from other food sources.


High protein diets are not recommended by the American Heart Association. These types of diets have been known to increase health risks because they lack many vital nutrients. Instead, it is recommended that dieters choose a variety of foods from each food group, but keep portion sizes small. Fat calories should total no more than 35 percent of daily calorie intake, with only 7 percent from saturated fat. Trans fats should be kept to under 1 percent of total daily calories.

Health Risks

Diets like Atkins also limit beans, legumes, and nuts, which are natural sources of protein. Instead, it expects the dieter to incorporate animal foods as the main source of protein. Most meats, especially red meat, contain high amounts of saturated fat, which can cause health problems. Excessive amounts of saturated fat over a period of time can lead to heart problems, like stroke or heart disease.  he additional fats that come from the animal protein also are known to increase levels of cholesterol, further contributing to possible cardiovascular problems.

In addition to coronary problems, diets high in saturated fat face increased risks for diabetes and certain types of cancer. These diets are also highly dangerous to individuals who are not able to utilize the excess protein from the diet, which can cause disorders of the kidney and liver. 

Other Considerations 

High protein diets restrict or eliminate foods that are high in fiber. High fiber foods regulate digestion, and provide a feeling of fullness which can help limit calorie intake in a safe way. Whole grains, nonfat dairy, and fruits, are all foods that diets like Atkins remove. These foods provide essential nutrients like calcium and potassium, which can decrease osteoporosis in women. High fiber foods are also known to lower blood pressure, which can reduce coronary risks.

Healthy Diets

With all of the diets on the market, which are healthy? A healthy diet consists of a diet full of fresh foods that can be grown in a garden.  Fruits and vegetables should be the main part of any diet, with meats, whole grains, and nonfat dairy, in moderate portion sizes. Physical exercise is another important element that should be part of every diet. Exercise burns excess calories safely without limiting any nutrients. The key to a healthy diet is a balance of healthy foods and a regular exercise routine.


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