Fact or Fiction?
"High protein diets are great
for losing weight."
by Don Bennett DAS
low carbohydrate diets will make you lose weight, but in
a very unhealthy way. Now, if you're thinking, "That can't be true,
some of these diets were created by doctors, and there are high
protein diet books and high protein diet products in the stores..."
So what! The first step to caring about your health is realizing
that the doctors that promote high protein diets are people, and
some people just want to make a buck and don't care about your health.
A sad fact of life, but a fact nevertheless. And stores are in business
to sell things. As long as these things don't instantly kill you,
and as long as there's a demand, they'll be available for sale.
If these products and diet plans harm you slowly, over a long period
of time, who cares. I do. I hope you do too.
via a high protein diet is a quick fix. But there are healthy and
safe ways to lose weight (and keep it off) without negatively affecting
your health. (More on this in a moment.)
why high protein diets are harmful, you need to understand how the
body works. Carbs are converted by the body into glucose, which
is the optimal fuel for the body (especially the brain). Our cells
use this fuel, but once they've had enough, the excess glucose is
converted, by the liver, into glycogen and stored in the muscles
as a reserve. When there is no more room for glycogen storage, the
excess is converted into triglycerides which are circulated in the
blood and taken up by the fat cells, and stored as fat. One of the
reasons you lose weight on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet
is that when the body is deprived of glucose from carbs, it must
turn to fat for fuel, and so you lose weight. Fats (and proteins)
are not as efficient a fuel as carbohydrates, and do not "burn"
as clean as glucose from carbohydrates. You will lose weight, but
at the expense of your health. Here are some of the things that
The high protein
foods recommended for these diets are animal foods. These foods
must be cooked. Cooking destroys nutrients (one of the main reasons
diets don't work in the first place; the body is continually hungry,
not for fuel, but for nutrients, which are lacking in cooked food,
so it keeps craving food). Animal proteins contribute to heart disease,
immune dysfunction, colon and reproductive cancer, prostate enlargement,
diabetes, and a host of less serious conditions.
are also high in arachidonic acid, a dangerous fat which
causes the release of a hormone that produces inflammatory conditions
which can lead to arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease. It
can also intensify the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, PMS, and
certain auto-immune diseases.
animal proteins contain two strong amino acids, methionine and cysteine,
that need to be neutralized to keep the body's blood pH at a normal
level (if your blood can't transport oxygen to your cells, there
can be no life). The best and most plentiful neutralizing agent
the body has at its disposal is calcium (from the bones). The more
animal protein you eat, the more calcium is taken from your bones,
and the higher your risk of osteoporosis (and guess what: Milk contains
animal protein!) Also, cysteine is the precursor to homocysteine,
which causes cholesterol to build up on the artery walls, leading
to Coronary Artery Disease. It turns out your cholesterol level
is not as good an indicator of cardiovascular health as is your
homocysteine level. It's not the cholesterol in your blood that's
bad, it's the cholesterol stuck to your artery walls that's dangerous.
Many heart attack victims have "normal" serum cholesterol levels.
On a high protein
diet, some of the weight loss can be from loss of muscle. Once you
are no longer supplying the body with a steady source of glucose,
the body turns to its stores of glycogen in the muscles. When glycogen
is liberated from muscle tissue, water is also released. The quick
weight loss experienced is from the breakdown of muscle to get to
the glycogen, and the accompanying water release. The more water
you lose, the more weight you lose. The downside is dehydration,
and loss of muscle.
As you lose
lean muscle mass, your Basal Metabolic Rate is lowered (BMR is the
amount of calories you burn in a 24-hour period at rest). The long-term
effect from a lower BMR is that you will ultimately have to eat
less or you will begin to gain weight. Obviously as muscle mass
is lost, you lose strength. Not so obvious is the stress placed
on your immune system as it tries to detoxify your body from the
poisonous by-products of protein metabolism such as ammonia. Low
fiber/high protein foods also cause water to be pulled away from
the colon to help flush out these poisons, which can cause constipation,
and intensify dehydration - a causative factor in disease.
And as if all
this isn't bad enough, animal foods contain substances which are
not conducive to good health: growth hormones, antibiotics, and
pesticides to name a few.
So why do carbs
get such a bad rap? Basically there are good carbs (simple carbohydrates
as in fruits and veggies) and not so good carbs (complex carbohydrates
as in grain products). Simple carbs taste sweet to your tongue,
complex carbs taste bland to your tongue. Good carb foods have soluble
fiber. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the cells, which
results in less triglycerides being produced and stored as fat.
And high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables have natural
sugars, as opposed to processed, refined sugars, which play havoc
with your body's blood sugar regulation system, and can be stored
as fat. (But keep in mind that a glass of apple juice, which lacks
fiber, will have a different effect on sugar absorption than would
eating the apples used to make the juice - fiber is key!) Animal
products have zero fiber, and since the more soluble fiber in your
diet the better, animal products aren't the best food choice.
Fruits and vegetables
are also high water content foods as compared to animal foods. The
more water your food contains, the better. People who eat large
amounts of fruits and vegetables, and little to no animal foods,
are some of the slimmest, healthiest people around. So why isn't
a fruit and vegetable diet popularized as a weight loss diet? People
are addicted to animal food products. Those who create diet plans
know this. They also know that if they give the people what they
want, they'll be successful. They are not interested in giving people
that which is good for them. But if you can break the animal food
addiction, eventually you'll lose your desire for those foods, and
as your body regains its health, your cravings will be for "the
One fact that
seems to be ignored by those who tout high protein diets is that
cultures where quality simple carbohydrates make up a large part
of their diet have some of the thinnest and healthiest people on
As far as calories
go, you don't have to count them to be slim. 1000 calories from
donuts has a much different effect on the body than 1000 calories
from watermelon. One is much better at putting on fat... guess which
And think about
this: During your entire life, from birth to death, when do you
think you need the most protein? Answer: As an infant. It is during
the first few years of life that you experience the most growth.
Growth is heavily dependent on protein. If your diet consisted of
nothing but mother's milk (which is an infant's natural diet), that
diet consisted of less than two percent protein! So why would you
need more than that as an adult? Hmmm. Personally, I haven't had
any animal protein in over 20 years, and I feel better than ever!
Where do I get my protein? About half of my daily requirement is
met by my body's recycling of damaged proteins (the body breaks
down non-functional proteins into their constituent amino acids,
discards the damaged ones, and files the good ones away for when
it needs to make more proteins). The rest of my protein needs are
met with fruits and vegetables (yes, they contain protein), and
the occasional nuts and seeds.
A lack of protein
is not what contributes to the ill-health experienced by so many
people in this country... it's the excessive protein consumption.
the more fruits and vegetables, and the less animal foods in your
diet, the healthier you will be. Yes, there are books written by
doctors that say eat a high protein/low carbohydrate diet, but there
are books that recommend you drink your own urine for optimal health.
Let the buyer/reader beware!
of the Atkins Diet
Propaganda (a very compelling and excellent explanation
of protein myths)
Carbs, Low Carbs, Simple Carbs, No Carbs
High vs Low Protein Diets
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