Let's rethink health - Part II

Is a high protein and low carb diet the right choice or not?

Even though the body consists mainly of protein, our protein requirements don’t come from protein alone. They come from an interchange between proteins, carbohydrates and fat within our body. That said, plant based proteins are the highest quality proteins. They can be supplied by whole cereal grains and various beans and their by-products.

In terms of food requirements in our daily life, we need one part of protein, for body construction, versus seven parts of carbohydrates, for energy. Consequently, we need much less protein than has lately been publicized by some food theories. A recent study was made to evaluate the effects of a high protein diet.

In the study, 34 post-menopausal, non-diabetic, obese women were divided into three groups — each with a different meal plan. 

1.     The first group of women ate a diet that would maintain their current weight.

2.     The second group ate a weight loss diet that limited their protein intake to the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a woman who weighs 154 pounds, that is about 56 grams of protein.

3.     The third group also ate a weight loss diet, but increased their protein intake. They ate 1.2 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. For a 154 pound women, that would be 84 grams of protein.

The women were monitored for 28 weeks. The researchers provided all of the meals, so the protein, carb and fat intake was tightly controlled.

One of the promises of a high-protein diet was that the cells would become more sensitive to insulin, which would mean that the cells would uptake and utilize sugar more efficiently – rather than storing the sugar as fat.

While both the RDA-limited protein group and the higher-protein group lost the same amount of weight, the RDA-limited protein group saw a 25-30% improvement in insulin sensitivity, which is linked to a reduced risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Surprisingly, the high-protein group saw zero improvement in insulin sensitivity, and while they lost the same weight, there was no metabolic improvements and thus no decreased risk for diabetes or heart disease from the high-protein diet. 

In other words, the study found that the group that ate a high-protein diet did not achieve the same metabolic benefits as the group that ate a diet with the recommended protein levels.

Yet another side effect of a high protein diet is that it makes the body, and therefore the blood, more acidic. In order to neutralize blood acidity in the body, minerals, such as calcium, are being taken away from the bones, leaving the bones weak and susceptible to developing osteoporosis.

In conclusion, it is sometimes very dangerous to blindly follow a certain fad diet that takes you to extremes, which even your body will not be able to handle for long.  Our body needs a balanced nutritional plan, adapted to our body constitution, because health without balance is not health and that is what we need to focus on.