With the traditional Western diet, the average North American consumes about double the protein that their body needs. Additionally, the main sources of protein consumed tend to be animal products, which are also high in fat (particularly saturated fat). Most individuals are surprised to learn that protein needs are actually much less than what they have been consuming.
The Problem with High Protein Diets
Typical high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. The effect of such diets on blood cholesterol levels is a matter of ongoing research, but evidence indicates that meals high in saturated fat adversely affect arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks. Be heart-smart for a longer life.
Cooking high protein foods like meats, especially grilling and frying, produces highly carcinogenic compounds called heteorcyclic amines. These substances have been linked to various cancers including those of the colon and breast. The heme in red meat has been linked, also, to these carcinogenic effects. Long-term high intake of meat, particularly red meat, is associated with significantly increased risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, high-protein diets are typically low in beneficial dietary fiber.
High protein intake is known to encourage urinary calcium losses and has been shown to increase risk of fracture in research studies. Plant-based diets, which provide adequate protein (and calcium), can help protect against osteoporosis.
Weight Loss Sabotage
Many individuals see almost immediate (but not long term) weight loss as a result of following a high-protein diet, when in fact, the weight loss is simply the result of consuming fewer calories. The best strategy involves lifestyle changes including a low-fat, high-fibre diet combined with regular physical activity. F ad diets don’t work nearly as well as healthy whole food diets.
Impaired Kidney Function.
When people eat too much protein, it releases nitrogen compounds into the blood as it is digested and metabolized. This places a strain on the kidneys, which must expel the waste through the urine. High-protein diets, according to a recent study out of Harvard University, are associated with a significant risk of kidney problems. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that high protein intake is largely responsible for the high prevalence of kidney stones in developed countries.