Atkins, Dukan and Paleo diets all have one thing in common: they are high in protein. But is this just another trend or is their truth behind the push for protein diets? See if a high protein diet is right for you.
Part 1: Do You Need to Go for a High Protein Diet?
All bodies need protein as the amino acids that they contain are the building blocks of our muscle and tissue. However, out of the 22 amino acids that exist, eight of them are not found naturally in our bodies and we must consume them through the foods we eat. A high protein diet can help break down fat in our bodies and help build muscle. An increase in protein intake may also be necessary during periods of growth, pregnancy, or bodybuilding. Some signs of inadequate protein intake are fatigue, loss of muscle mass, and hair loss. The key is to consume a higher quality of protein in relation to the calorie count it has. The higher the quality, the better your body can absorb the amino acids.
Often times high protein diets are necessary for vegetarians and vegans. When they make their lifestyle change, protein can easily go missing in the diet unless they put special focus on maintaining it. It is a big misconception that protein can only be gained through animal by-products. Although animal sources of protein are usually higher in content, vegetable protein may have beneficiary effects on some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Consuming solely animal protein can lead to the development of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and various types of cancer. It is important for all meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans to mix the types of foods they consume in order to achieve a balanced intake of protein.
Part 2: Sample High Protein Diets
Sample Diet for Meat Eaters
§ Breakfast: Smoked-Salmon Frittatas
Delicious, packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
§ Lunch: Chicken Salad Wrap
Protein-rich chicken with very few carbs.
§ Snack: Greek Yogurt and Red Berry Mix
Packed with probiotics. Add honey for a natural and beneficial sweetener.
§ Dinner: Shrimp Paella
Protein with wonderful Spanish flavor. Substitute the rice with quinoa to get an extra dosage of lean protein.
Sample Diet for Vegetarians
§ Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Chilies
Quick and easy, plus the hot chillies are natural fat burners.
§ Lunch: Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
This superfood is not only gluten-free, protein-rich but also filled with vitamins and minerals.
§ Snack: Various Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts are all high in protein.
§ Dinner: Baked Potato topped with Cottage Cheese and Side Salad
Light and tasty. To increase the flavor, add homemade salsa or green onions.
Part 3: Concerns About High Protein Diets
In the same way not enough protein can cause problems in your body, too much will also cause medical issues. Although high protein diets help to break down fat, the fat must be processed by the liver. Too much fat will cause damage to the liver. This is especially a problem as you age and your body’s organs cannot handle the same pressure as before. Protein consumption should also be spread out so that your body can absorb it properly. It is suggested that you consume small amounts of protein every two to three hours. An increase in consumption needs to be implemented gradually in order to not overload your liver and ensure that the benefits are absorbed. Otherwise, you will only consume the calories without the benefits.
Please note: Everybody is different. Your protein needs depend on your current nutrition, activity levels, age, and sex. Therefore, consult a doctor to better understand your body’s needs before embarking on a diet change.