A high-protein diet is often recommended for bodybuilding and by nutritionists to help efforts to build muscle and lose fat. But are high-protein diets safe? It’s exciting to see your gym mates sipping in different protein powders but are they meant for you? Are they safe for you?
A high-protein diet generally isn’t harmful when followed for a short-term but not for a long term and it’s still being studied. Protein based diets can help you feel full longer and stabilize your blood sugar levels, but they also carry certain risks.
The American Heart Association doesn’t recommend high-protein diets for weight loss. Some of these diets restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and don’t provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. People who stay on these diets very long may not get enough vitamins and minerals and face other potential health risks.
These high-protein diets can cause a quick drop in weight because eliminating carbohydrates causes a loss of body fluids. Lowering carbohydrate intake also prevents the body from completely burning fat. However, this is also associated with the loss of glycogen, a vital energy source, from the muscles. This can lead to fatigue.
Mayo Clinic nutritionist, Katherine Zeratsky, says if you want to follow a high-protein diet, do so only as a short-term weight-loss aid. Also, choose your protein wisely. Good choices include fish, skinless chicken, lean beef, and low-fat dairy products. Choose carbs that are high in fiber, such as whole grains and nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting a weight-loss diet. And that’s especially important in this case if you have kidney disease, diabetes or other chronic health condition.
Claire MacEvilly, a nutrition scientist from the British Nutrition Foundation, told BBC News Online that people who lived on a high protein diet with lower levels of other nutrients risked developing a condition known as ketosis. “This is a fat-burning state that occurs during starvation, and can be quite dangerous”.
Health Risks with High-Protein Diets:
• Your kidneys are responsible for filtering a number of substances, including protein, from your blood. So a high protein diet can put strain on your kidneys; those with reduced kidney function should avoid such a diet. And what is lesser known is the kidney and heart connection, which means if your kidney is in trouble, your heart is likely to protest sooner than later. Most kidney problems lead to a heart problem eventually.
• Extreme protein intake (in excess of 200 g per day), coupled with inadequate intake of other calorie sources (fat or carbohydrates), can cause a form of metabolic disturbance and death commonly known as rabbit starvation.
• High-protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they can result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber, which can cause problems such as constipation and diverticulitis.
• Few high-protein diets promote foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, which may increase your risk of heart disease