According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three-fourths of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Given this alarming statistic, many people are turning to high-protein diets as a quick way to lose weight. Although these diets may result in a few lost pounds, they often pose other serious health problems. Focusing on animal-derived foods that are high in saturated fat, these diets can raise cholesterol and lead to coronary disease, among other things.
Although you might lose some weight on a high-protein fad diet, most of that weight loss can be attributed to a loss of bodily fluids. People whose diets are devoid of plant-derived fiber lack the ability to properly absorb and retain water; therefore, they often produce loose, watery stools. A low-fiber diet can even lead to irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis and bowel cancer. In addition, high-protein diets are low in beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Heart Disease and Stroke
According to the American Heart Association, most Americans get more protein than what their bodies are able to process. Drastically reducing or eliminating beneficial carbohydrates from your diet and increasing the source of animal protein results in a menu that’s high in saturated fat and cholesterol. This type of diet can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.
The body gets its fuel from the sugars found in carbohydrates. What energy can be used immediately is turned into glucose, and the rest is stored as glycogen until blood glucose levels get too low. But when you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet and glycogen stores are fully depleted, your body begins breaks down fat and muscle to fuel the body. This accumulation of broken-down fats in the body results in a state of ketosis–a potentially life-threatening condition that damages vital body organs, including the liver and kidneys.
Although men and women should avoid high-protein diets in favor of one that’s well-rounded, women especially are prone to developing osteoporosis as a result of long-term fad dieting. High-protein diets produce an excess of acid which, over time, leaches calcium and causes bones to weaken. But a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables neutralizes the acid content and helps protect aging bones. Dark green vegetables have an especially high calcium content.
Instead of relying on high-protein foods to lose weight, the American Heart Association recommends eating a balanced diet of protein sources, beneficial fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. And don’t forget to exercise to burn fat, build muscle and promote cardiovascular health. When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, there is no such thing as a quick or easy fix.