Are High-Protein Diets Safe?

High protein diets are likely popular because they do cause weight loss and allow us to eat all of those meats and cheeses that we love. Some examples of these diets include Atkins, Zone, and South Beach Diet.

The pros of a high-protein diet are feeling fuller faster and for an extended period of time, and of course, weight loss. The largest problem is where the protein is coming from. High protein diets are not intrinsically unhealthy, but they often contain more saturated fat and trans fat than optimal for health. In fact, the American Heart Association does not recommend high-protein diets because of the increased risk for heart attack and high cholesterol. While there are meat options that are lean and more appropriate, they are also more expensive. A high-protein weight loss plan most certainly requires a reduction in carbohydrates; sometimes these diets suggest that we reduce carbs to an unhealthy extent.  Further, if one is allowed very little carbs, they are less likely to choose healthy whole grain complex carbohydrates. A balanced diet of healthy choices is always healthier than an extreme diet that is too high in fat and too low in fibers, this may increase risk of stroke and heart disease. Long-term high protein diets also take a toll on the kidneys and extreme excess may even cause kidney stones, increase calcium excretion and cause osteoporosis or bone loss. It can be said that it is rare for dieters to eat no carbs whatsoever unless they have an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia (Grosvenor, 2021; Marieb & Hoehn, 2019).

Unfortunately, nutrition is complex, and it requires an understanding of physiology which is a tough subject. There is so much misinformation out there, without at least a primitive understanding of physiology it is tough to discern good information from bad information. It has become apparent that general public is unaware of the consequences in these types of diets and tend to believe what they hear or see on TV, especially if a beloved celebrity is endorsing the diet. While the most popular of these diets tend to be relatively safe, it is difficult to differentiate between the good and the bad.


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