High protein diets have a proven track record, if you’re looking to lose weight fast, but they might not be the healthiest solution. Discover the pros and cons of high protein diets, like Dr. Atkins, the Paleo diet and the Dukan diet.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended daily intake of protein is 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men, with between 10-35% of total calories coming from protein. While an 8-ounce yogurt contains about 11 grams of protein and a glass of milk around 8, a 3-ounce piece of meat includes up to 21 grams of protein.
Eating too much protein can have unwanted side-effects, so find out more about the pros and cons of high protein diets before trying one yourself.
Pro: Fast Weight Loss
The biggest advantage of high protein diets is fast weight loss. In just a few weeks, you can see important results, which helps you stay motivated. Water weight is the first to go when you’re on a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates, but continuing to eat foods that are rich in protein can sometimes affect muscle mass too, not just water and fat.
Pro: Feeling Full
Since protein is digested slower than carbs, one of the biggest pros of high protein diets is the feeling of satiety. It’s easier to skip snacks when you’re on a high protein diets, so you’re less likely to overeat. Diets like Dr. Atkins, the Dukan diet or the Paleo diet, also have a big impact on your metabolism and some dieters burn fat faster on high protein diets.
Pro: Increased Muscle Mass
Depending on the type of diet you’re following, you can actually gain muscle mass with a balanced high protein diet. That usually happens when you don’t cut out carbs significantly, since eating mostly protein and not enough of it can also go in the opposite direction and destroy muscle mass. One of the pros of high protein diets is that they may help you with your exercise program, if you don’t push yourself too hard, which actually harms your muscles.
Pro: Lowering Cholesterol
In the short term, many dieters go for a high protein and low carb can experience lower cholesterol. However, this isn’t one of the pros of high protein diets that you can take for granted. It’s all about how much fat you eat along with your protein. That’s why most diets of this type recommend lean protein.
Con: Less Energy
One of the biggest cons of high protein diets is that they may leave you with less energy. Your brain usually runs on carbs, so you may also experience trouble with concentration or creative activities when you eat very few carbs. High protein diets aren’t recommended if you’re used to a sedentary lifestyle, since they won’t supply you with enough energy to start working out if you’re not used to it.
Con: High In Fat
High protein diets usually contain more fat as well, even if you do only choose the lean protein options. While you may experience weight loss faster than with other types of diets, the increased fat is definitely one of the biggest cons of high protein diets, especially in the long run. These diets are associated higher risk of heart disease in the long run.
Con: Digestive Issues
Losing out on good sources of dietary fiber is one of the most unpleasant cons of high protein diets. Slowing down digestion, protein-rich foods can leave you constipated and symptoms for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome also intensity. Some dieters on Dr. Atkins, Dukan or Paleo diets also experience bad breath and body odour based on their high protein intake.
Con: Dangerous Health Risks
Even the biggest advocates of high protein diets can’t ignore the fact that this type of diet is detrimental to your health in the long run. A recent study from the University of Southern California's Davis School of Gerontology also show that biggest dangers of high protein diets are for mature adults.
The conclusion based on data gathered for more than 20 years shows that people with high protein diets (animal protein) have a higher risk of developing cancer and an overall 74% higher risk of death, based cardiovascular disease and other health issues related to high protein diets.