People are going on high-protein
low-carb diets to lose weight. This article examines what
effects these types of diets can have on their health.
Diets: Are You Losing More than Weight?
Monique N. Gilbert, B.Sc.
average American eats about twice
as much protein than what they require. Some people, in the
of thinness, are going on low-carb diets and are eating up to four
the protein their body needs. Protein deficiency is certainly
a problem in America. So exactly how much protein do you
Much less than you think.
is a vital nutrient, essential
to your health. In its purest form, protein consists of chains of amino
acids. There are 22 amino acids that combine to form
and 8 to 9 of these must come from the foods we eat. Our body
these amino acids to create muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and
organs. Proteins help replace and form new tissue, transports
and nutrients in our blood and cells, regulates the balance of water
acids, and is essential for making antibodies.
too much of a good thing may
not be so good for you. Many people are putting their health
by eating to much protein. Excessive protein consumption,
animal protein, can result in heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and
kidney stones. As important as protein is for our body, there
many misconceptions about how much we really need in our diet, and the
best way to obtain it.
to the American Heart Association
and the National Institutes of Health, as little as 50-60 grams of
is enough for most adults. This breaks down to about 10-12%
calories. Your body only needs 0.36 grams of protein per
body weight. To calculate the exact amount you need, multiply
ideal weight by 0.36. This will give you your optimum daily
requirement in grams. Since the amount of protein needed
on how much lean body mass you have, ideal weight is used instead of
weight. Infants, children, pregnant and nursing women require
on low-carb diets are consuming
up to 34% of their total calories in the form of protein and up to 53%
of total calories from fat. Most of these people are unaware
amount of protein and fat that is contained in the foods they
For instance, a typical 3-ounce beef hamburger, which is small by
standards, contains about 22 grams of protein and 20 grams of
You achieve quick weight loss on these diets because of this high fat
fat foods give you the sensation
of feeling full, faster, so you end up eating fewer total
However, this type of protein and fat combination is not the
Animal proteins are loaded with cholesterol and saturated
people on these diets also experience an elevation in their LDL (the
cholesterol when they remain on this diet for long periods.
levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, clog arteries and is the chief
culprit in heart disease, particularly heart attack and
while you may lose weight in the short-run, you are putting your
health in jeopardy in the long-run.
reason weight loss is achieved
on these low-carb diets, at least temporarily, is due to water
The increase in the amount of protein consumed, especially from meat
dairy products, raises the levels of uric acid and urea in the
These are toxic by-products of protein breakdown and
The body eliminates this uric acid and urea by pumping lots of water
the kidneys and urinary tract to help flush it out. However,
side effect of this diuretic response is the loss of essential minerals
from the body, including calcium. The high intake of protein
calcium from the bones, which leads to osteoporosis.
evidence shows that for every
1 gram increase in animal protein ingested the body loses an average of
1.75 milligrams of calcium in the urine. Additionally, as
and other minerals are leached from our bones, they are deposited in
kidneys, which can form into painful kidney stones. If a
becomes large enough to cause a blockage, it stops the flow of urine
the kidney and must be removed by surgery or other methods.
proteins, like beans, legumes
and soyfoods, also provide fiber, which helps lowers LDL cholesterol
raises HDL (the good) cholesterol. This prevents the build up
arterial plaque, which leads to atherosclerosis (hardening of the
and heart disease, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and
The amount and type of protein in your diet also has an important
on calcium absorption and excretion.
diets enhance calcium
retention in the body, and causes less calcium excretion in the
This reduces the risk of osteoporosis and kidney problems.
kidney disease is far less common in people who eat a vegetable-based
than it is in people who eat an animal-based diet.
replacing animal protein with vegetable
protein, and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat (like olive
canola oils), you can avoid the pitfalls of the typical high-protein
diet. You will improve your health and regulate your weight
enjoying a vast array of delicious, nutritionally dense, high fiber
eat everything in moderation
and nothing in excess. Also, the healthy way to lose weight
it off is to eat nutritiously and make permanent lifestyle changes that
allow you burn more calories than you take in.
© 2005 Monique N. Gilbert.
All rights reserved.
N. Gilbert, B.Sc. is a Health,
Nutrition, Weight-Loss and Lifestyle Coach, Certified Personal Trainer
and Fitness Counselor, Recipe Developer, Freelance Writer and Author of
of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook.
can be reached at: Monique
Bio . . .
N. Gilbert has offered guidance
in natural health, nutrition, fitness, weight and stress management
1989. Through her coaching program and writings, Monique
inspires and teaches how to naturally enhance your well-being, vitality
and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy
For more information, visit her website - Monique