Saturday, February 19, 2011

MYTHBUSTER: The Low down on Low Carb, High Protein Diets

Low Carb, High Protein diets have been promoted and encouraged for years from the Atkins diet, to South Beach, to Paleo diets, to Sugar-Fu%#er diets, to Zone diets, to just about any diet that promotes quick fixes to weight loss.  So get ready for this weeks MYTHBUSTER...the low down on Low Carb, High Protein diets.

Low Carb, High protein diets usually require dieters to intake about 30-50% of their calories from protein sources, in some cases they require even more.  Protein is an essential nutrient necessary for the building, maintenance, and repair of tissues in the body.  While it is important to consume dietary protein, these diets promote high levels of protein consumption that may be potentially harmful to your health.

So how does this Low Carb, High protein diet act in the body? Well, when you restrict carbohydrates, the body goes into a different metabolic state.  This is known as ketosis.  Your body uses its own fat for fuel.  Normally, your body uses carbohydrates as fuel.  Carbs are the PRIMARY source of fuel for the brain, heart, and many other organs.  Since your body can't get energy from carbs, it starts getting energy from ketones - little fragments of carbohydrates that are created from breakdown of fat stores.  Basically, your body changes from a carb-burning to a fat-burning system.  Dieters out there right now are thinking...yay! I'm burning fat! Thats great! Right? WRONG.  This change in the body due to Low Carb, High protein diets can cause serious health problems, such as the following:

  • Kidney Failure - too much protein can strain the kidneys
  • High Cholesterol - if you are consuming excess protein, you are probably consuming excess meats which can be higher in saturated fats, higher cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, or cancer
  • Osteoporosis - high protein diets cause excess calcium to be excreted through urine than normal
  • Cancer - if you are avoiding carbohydrates, you are restricting necessary nutrient molecules such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals - whole grains, fruits, and veggies are important in the diet
  • Unhealthy metabolic state (due to ketosis) - bodies formation of ketones as fuel can cause damage to the bodies organs - could lead to kidney stones, gout, or kidney failure
In general, DIETS DON'T WORK.  It is not something you can do for the rest of your life. Any weight lost, will most likely be gained back.  Chronic or "yo-yo dieting" may lead to unhealthy obsessions with weight loss and negative body image.  Instead of restricting foods and eliminating important nutrient groups like carbohydrates, think about what types of foods to ADD to your diet, not restrict.  Choosing whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables provides excellent sources of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.  Carbohydrates are your bodies main source of fuel.  Remember BALANCE, MODERATION, and VARIETY of ALL food groups for optimal health!  woo woo!!! 

Love your body, You are beautiful,



Thompson, J. and Melinda Manore, Nutrition, An Applied Approach, 2nd Edition.  

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