You've probably heard that high protein diets are a healthy way to lose weight. Popular plans such as the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet both recommend that dieters consumer high amounts of protein and extremely low amounts of carbs. But is this a fad that will fall by the wayside or good medical advice?
How Much Protein Do You Need In A Day? Is More Better?
According to research, adults should consume about .8 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. That means that a 150 pound person should consume about 54 grams of protein a day. Most Americans consume more than is necessary. So, then, why are we so fat? Because we also consume more carbohydrates and fats than we need in a day, which means that all told, we are consuming far more calories than are necessary to maintain a healthy body weight.
The Journal of Nutrition did a study of laboratory rats, in which they were fed different amounts of protein for fifteen weeks. The rats that ate the highest amounts of protein were found, in the end, to have the highest levels of antioxidants, as well, which led to the conclusion that consuming large amounts of protein can, in fact, be healthy. Unfortunately, the maximum amount of protein that humans can consume without adverse effects is not known.
What's Wrong With Eating A Lot Of Protein?
In and of itself, consuming a high protein diet doesn't seem to be problematic, so long as you don't have any kidney or liver disease that will interfere will how your body metabolizes protein. The real problem occurs when dieters follow high protein diets that are also high in fat and don't contain enough fiber. While the human body seems to be able to utilize high amounts of protein, diets that are high in fat are considered unhealthy across the board. And while most people don't need as many carbohydrates as they actually consume, your body does need the fiber found in whole grain foods and fruits in order to digest properly. Plus, many nutrients found in vegetables, particularly dark green ones, simply aren't found in non-vegetable sources.
Eating too much protein, however, in the amounts that diets such as Atkins recommend, helps lose weight by inducing a false ketonic, or starvation state. This means that because you aren't consuming any actual sugars, your body starts burning fat to convert it into sugar. This is an extremely unhealthy way to lose weight. Too much protein, unfortunately, can be a relative thing. Athletes and other people who have high energy lifestyles can consume more protein without adverse effects than others.
How Do I Eat A Healthy High Protein Diet?
The biggest trick to losing weight is consuming fewer calories. No matter what form the calories come in; fat, protein, or carb, you will not lose weight if you consume more calories than your body needs for energy. It's a simple math equation. As far as protein goes, it's probably healthy to eat up to 50% of your daily calories in protein, which is 154 grams in a 1,500 calorie a day diet, for a short period of time, as long as it's okay-ed by your doctor. In the long term, eating up to 130 grams of protein per day (on a 1,500 calorie a day diet) is probably not going to hurt you.