Are High Protein Diets Healthy?
By Lisa Metzgar, PhD, Nutrition Tidbits – Out of all the nutrients, protein seems to be the star. It has been touted as the one nutrient that doesn’t make us fat. Well,this is partially true.
Protein is popular because it doesn’t have an effect on our insulin levels. In the short term, giving your body a break from high insulin levels is good and you will lose weight, but in the long term, it can cause problems.
Protein breaks down into amino acids which are used for building muscle, hormones, enzymes, cell membranes, skin, hair, nails, and red blood cells. Proteins are needed for growth and maintenance. The liver can convert them to glucose and are used for minimal energy in the absence of carbohydrates and fat. Body builders are big on protein supplements to help build bigger muscles. If you have ever followed a high protein/ low carb diet like Atkins, you will notice however that your energy levels will fall and your thinking will become foggy. This is due to the fact that your body does need carbohydrates and fat for most of it’s energy.
Too much protein can lead to kidney overload, acidification which leads to calcium being pulled from the bones and excreted in the urine, oxidation which leads to inflammation, and possible kidney stones. It can also create problems with our digestion due to lack of fiber in the diet.
Our bodies where designed to eat a balance of all the macronutrients,protein, fat, and carbohydrates. We have gotten out of tune with our basic needs due to all the processed foods and misinformation.
Proteins should be included in every meal or snack along with carbohydrates and fats (healthy ones of course). Protein helps slow down the glycemic load of carbohydrates and helps maintain our bodies muscle and many other tissues and organs.
Some proteins can cause food sensitivities or allergies. Common food allergies are casein from milk, gluten from wheat and other grains, and proteins in peanuts. Food sensitivities can cause a range of symptoms from lethargy, skin problems, and digestive issues. Food allergies can be quite serious. I recommend that you cut out all possible foods that have potential for sensitivities and see how you feel. Do this for a month and then slowly add back in the foods and see if you have a reaction. Once you clean your body of possible problem foods, you will know which ones are creating your nagging little symptoms.
Good sources of protein include lean grass fed meats, lean poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. You only need about 4 oz of protein for your main meal and just a few ounces with your snacks.
A good sample meal would include a small wild salmon fillet and steamed vegetables. This meal would include all the healthy macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) needed for metabolic balance.
A sample snack would consist of an apple and a small handful of almonds,again providing balance.
If you focus on each meal and snack being a healthy balance, you won’t have any problem seeing the weight come off naturally and in a healthy manner. Remember, that anything in extreme can cause health problems in the long run.
If you would like more suggestions on meal planning, you can visit my website at www.conceptsinwellness.com and click on the cookbook link.
LisaMetzgar, PhD,she received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition.
Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutrition counseling.Lisa's passion is to educate families about a healthy lifestyle.
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