Balanced Protein Diet
Various high-protein diets claim that cutting carbs in favour of protein can help you to lose weight faster while still feeling satisfied. However, losing carbs from your diet completely can be detrimental to health.
It's true that protein burns comparatively more calories than other energy sources when it's digested. And we all need some protein (whether from meat, fish, dairy or grains) for strong muscles and bones, hormonal health and immunity.
However, carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy, and our brains, in particular, need carbs to maintain alertness and concentration. As with all diets, there are downsides. High-protein diets put an extra load on the kidneys and may cause calcium to be lost from your bones. Too much high-fat protein may raise your cholesterol levels. A high-carb diet, meanwhile, can disrupt blood sugar levels, increase the risk of diabetes and lead to energy fluctuations and mood swings.
Moderation is the key. Protein and carbs both play a part in helping you shed extra pounds. Choose lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish and low-fat dairy - about the size of a deck of cards - and keep carb servings to the size of your clenched fist. Choose complex carbs, such as wholegrain versions of bread, pasta and rice, and include plenty of veg and fruit in your diet.
Athletes do benefit from more protein than inactive individuals for multiple reasons. Regular exercise can both stimulate muscle growth and cause tissue damage, which is repaired by protein. Exercise also increases the transport of oxygen to tissues, which is carried out by a protein called hemoglobin. We also use protein for a small amount of energy. Protein can be converted to glucose, the body’s preferred energy source, so it helps prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes. Endurance athletes should consume 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram, while strength athletes should aim for 1.6-2 grams per kilogram.
Is too much harmful? The body cannot store excess protein. Protein consumed in excess will be either be used for energy (typically only during times of low carbohydrate intake or starvation) or converted to fat. Therefore, it is possible to gain weight on a high-protein diet if the individual is consuming more calories than necessary.
High-protein diets are not advised for people with chronic kidney disease or declined kidney function (or only one kidney). Medical evidence does not suggest that eating more protein increases the risk of kidney disease in healthy individuals. High-protein diets have been tied to high cholesterol only when the predominant source of protein comes from animal foods high in saturated fat. It is important to note that individuals (especially athletes) on a high-protein diet also require more water to help flush excess urea (a waste product from the breakdown of protein) from the kidneys.