High protein good or bad :
Before answering this question we should have a good idea on what is protein and what does it do in our body
Protein (word comes from Greek word proteios which means primary)provides approximately 10 – 15% of the energy in the diet. Protein is essential for numerous structural and functional purposes and is essential for growth and repair of the body . In adults approximately 16% of the body weight is protein . 43% of this is muscle , 15% skin and 16% blood .
Protein plays important roles in our body without which normal functioning can be impaired .
- Structural : Protein is important for the structure of the body and about half of the body’s protein is in structural tissues such as skin and muscle . These structural proteins are collagen ( 25% of the body’s protein ) , actin and myosin .
- Transport: Proteins act as transport carriers in the blood and body fluids for many molecules and nutrient e.g. haemoglobin, lipoproteins
- Hormonal : hormones that influence the biochemical activities of the body are made of proteins
- Enzymes that are responsible for catalyzing different biochemical reactions are made of proteins
- Immune function : Antibodies , the main component of the body’s protective mechanism are protein molecules
- Buffering Action : The protein albumin acts as a buffer in the maintenance of blood PH.
So adequate quantity of protein is required for the body so that all these essential functions take place without any hindrance.
A lot of articles can be easily found all over the internet that high protein diet is the key to weight loss , a diet that improves joint conditions and prevent Alzhiemer’s and is very easy to follow. But all these claims are too good to be true
Firstly we should know how much protein is needed ?
Protein being one of the three major macronutrient ( along with fat and carbohydrate ) is very much essential for the body in right amount
Recommended Daily Allowance ( RDA) is .8 grams per kg of ideal body weight . A Man having an ideal body weight of 60 kg can have ( 60x.8 ) i.e. 48 gm protein
Though the need varies with activity level , varies from disease to disease , varies with age and varies with gender . For athletes it goes up to 1.2 to 1.8gm per kg body weight depending upon their practice hours , intensity of training and sports requirement . Body builders can extend their limits to 2gms/ Kg ideal body weight .
But there are differences in opinion some experts suggest that these recommendations are not correct and the consumption should be twice the recommended level . So there are ambiguities with the recommendations .
What are the possible consequence of High protein diet ( i.e. when we take protein more than needed )
For protein to work as it is supposed to ( growth , repair , maintenance , gene expression etc) the body should get an opportunity to spare it for the work it is suppose to do . For that the diet should have adequate amount of Carbs and fats .Without them protein gets wasted . So called high protein diets only replace your carbohydrate and fat sources with protein rich foods. This doesn’t guarantee that you are actually reaching your daily requirement of protein . Moreover when too much of protein is consumed at one time , it doesn’t get stored for future use . it actually converts to fat by a process called deamination. Then the liver breaks down it to glucose which provides energy. Isn’t this funny the expensive protein foods like chicken , fish , egg white is giving energy which a pocket friendly banana can do easily .
The source of protein can be veg , non veg or a supplement but without a balance diet it can cause irritation , sleeplessness , constipation , mood swings and muscle catabolism or wasting
But will that lead to weight loss ?
Yes it will . When the body is given only protein and very little or no carbohydrate , the body first gets rid of its glycogen stores ( glucose stored in liver and muscle ) and loses water . After that it actually attacks the muscle tissues and burns the amino acid for energy .The result is MUSCLE CATABOLISM and lean mass loss . That leads to weight loss but we will not be happy with that kind of weight loss .
So to burn the store fat and to grow the lean muscle mass we need right quantity of protein along with right quantity of carbohydrates and fats.
Moreover studies show that high protein diets can cause kidney stones and affect the kidney health . Other than that high protein diets most of the time include red meat and saturated fats which might lead to colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Suggestions for high protein diet takers :
- Please visit a doctor and check the status of your kidneys before starting high protein diet
- Get your diet chart prepared from a qualified dietitian
- Get your protein from healthy sources such as low fat dairy products , fish , pulses , nuts , beans , lean meat of chicken ( avoid protein sources which have high saturated fats and Carbohydrates )
- Spread your protein consumption throughout the meal
- Take adequate amount of vegetables and fruits as a part of the diet