Proteins are large and complex molecules that play many critical roles for our daily functioning. They are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
Therefore, not consuming enough protein can cause muscle cramping, weakness, and soreness.
We can live a whole lifetime (after infancy) without eating any carbohydrates, and we can live for 6 months or more without eating any fat. However, we can only live for a maximum of 70 days without eating protein.
Studies show that high protein diets improve health in various ways. They help you lose weight and belly fat, while increasing your muscle mass and strength. For this reason, people often prefer to switch to high protein diets rather than having typical regular meals.
What does a high protein diet consist of?
High protein diets include large quantities of protein and only a small amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in sugary foods, pasta and bread, to name a few.
High protein diets can bring a quick drop in weight because eliminating carbohydrates causes a loss of body fluids. And, high protein diets cause substances called ketones to be released into the bloodstream. The ketones make dieting easier by lowering appetite.
These are foods you must include in your diet if you are planning to go on a high protein diet:
- Black beans.
- Lima beans.
- Chinese cabbage.
- Shrimpnuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds.
- Peanuts, and almonds.
- Fish, including salmon, flounder, and haddock.
- Sprouted grain bread, such as Ezekiel bread.
Do high protein diets have any side-effects?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man, and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
However in case of extra consumption of protein, you may face the following side-effects:
- Some high protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they can result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber, which can cause problems such as bad breath, headache and constipation.
- Some high protein diets include foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
- A high protein diet may worsen kidney function in people with kidney disease because your body may have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism.
Diarreah and dehydration can be a constant during a high protein diet. You will also be at a risk of developing cancerous cells.
Since protein contains calories, consuming too much can actually make losing weight more difficult — especially if you drink protein shakes in addition to your usual diet, and you’re not exercising.
Scientists recommend spreading protein intake evenly across the day to help prevent muscle loss with age.
What are the benefits of a high protein diet?
Now that we are done with the negative aspects of a high protein diet, let us focus on the positive ones.
A high protein diet is considered to be great for your health, therefore you may not be a stranger to the benefits if you have tried it once in your life.
Here are the pros:
- Protein based foods tend to be more filling and satisfying, so eating more of them in your diet can result in less calories being consumed. Reducing the total amount of calories eaten every day can help you manage your weight more easily.
- If you supply the body with protein after your workouts, it will help strengthen and repair the tendons and other connective tissue so your body has a less chance of injury.
- If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, then increasing protein in your diet may help.
- Eating more protein is one of the best ways to reduce age related muscle deterioration and prevent sarcopenia.
- High protein intake has been shown to significantly boost metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn. This can amount to 80–100 more calories burned each day.
- Protein is an essential building block of the skin. It is necessary for that glowing and youthful skin most of us covet.
- Headaches and fatigue can really mess with your focus. But that is what you might be getting from sugar crashes brought on from a high-carb diet. Consuming more protein can prevent you from getting those mid-day crashes.
Bodybuilders and powerlifters use high protein diets to increase muscle mass.
High protein diets offer great external and internal benefits.
Tips to keep in mind for an effective high protein diet
Taking the steps below may help people when they start a high protein diet:
- Figuring out their individual protein needs, which will depend on their body weight.
- Making meal plans for the week.
- Keeping a food journal to track the amount and types of food that they eat.
- Eating well-balanced meals including both plant and lean animal sources of protein in the diet.
A healthcare professional or registered dietician can provide more advice on how to start a high protein diet and how to increase protein intake in a healthy way.
Different types of high protein meal plans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that the most effective weight loss plan is moderate calorie restriction and increased physical activity.
These different types of high protein diets alongside exercise can be your perfect decision:
- Atkins diet
- South beach diet
- Stillman diet
- Zone diet
- Protein power diet
Give a high protein diet a shot, but make sure you keep a healthy balance between your physical activity and your protein intake. Best of luck!