Protein is constantly in the spotlight. High Protein Diet is all the rage. Protein Supplement sales are booming. The food industry is adding protein to everything from breakfast cereals, snack bars, pasta,and smoothies. Benefits of Proteins include their importance for brain growth, healing and for living power. Most people do not need all that extra protein and there are some downsides to over doing it. Most Americans already get more than the recommended amount of dietary protein. At this point time, research does not support the need for excess protein in the healthy and sedentary population.
The actual amount of dietary protein your body needs depends on a number of factors including your age, weight, height, age, sex, activity level and health status. In the U.S. the Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day or .36 grams per pound of body weight. However a lot evidence supports a high protein intake for weight loss and other health benefits.
What is Protein and Why Is It Important?
Protein performs the following roles
- Repair and maintenance. Protein is the main component of muscles, bones, skin, and hair. These tissues are continuously being repaired and replaced with protein.
- Hormones. Chemical messenger proteins allow cells and organs in your body to communicate.
- Enzymes. Most enzymes are proteins and the thousands of chemical reactions that take place throughout the body are driven by them.
- Transportation and Storage. Some proteins help deliver important molecules where they are needed. For example: the protein hemoglobin carries oxygen to the body’s cells.
The Protein Effects on Weight Loss
Appetite and Fullness. Eating more protein may help suppress hunger and appetite for hours after eating. Protein is digested much slower in the body than carbohydrates and fats
Protein digestion boosts metabolic rate by 20 to 35% compared to 5 to 15% increase for digesting carbohydrate and fat. When caloric intake is reduced the metabolism slows down. This is partly due to muscle loss. This suggests that a higher protein intake can help protect against muscle loss and keep the metabolic rate up.
Protein has the ability to suppress appetite, promote fullness and increase metabolism to facilitate
Other benefits of proteins
Besides having favorable effects on weight protein may help improve health in several other ways:
- Increases muscle mass size and stregth when combined with resistance raining.
- Reduces muscle loss during aging. Many people lose muscle as they age. Studies have found that adding a daily protein shake helped maintain muscle.
- Strength bones. Higher protein intake promotes bone health. Older women with the highest intake of animal protein experienced a whopping 69% reduced risk of hip fractures according to several studies
- Improve wound healing . High protein diets can enhance the healing of wounds related to surgery or injury, including bedsores. Several studies suggest a high protein intake can help build muscle, protect against bone and muscle loss during aging and improve wound healing.
How Much Protein is Needed Every Day?
The optimal amount of protein to eat is controversial. Another factor is that protein requirements are “not a one size fits all” approach to determine the caloric requirements. Protein requirements are difference from one individual to another.
The protein needs are calculated based on size (weight/height), sex, activity level, and health status. Clients in a sedentary state will require less protein than the clients that are highly active such as an elite athlete. Protein is calculated using the following formula 0.36/lb or 0.8g/kg/day. This ratio is used for clients that are mildly active or sedentary. For an elite athlete or very highly active client, the following formula would be appropriate: 1.5-2.0g/kg/day or .75 or >/lb.
How To Follow A High Protein Diet
A high protein diet is easy to follow and can be customized according to food preferences and health related goals. For example the client may want to follow low carbohydrate, high protein diet to keep blood sugar under control. If dairy products need to be avoided, a diet rich in proteins like meats, chicken, eggs, and legumes can be in a meal plan. Even the vegetarian diet can be high if it includes eggs or dairy and plenty of legumes and plant proteins.
Here are the basic guidelines for following a high protein diet.
- Keep a food diary by using an app or website that provides protein values for thousands of foods and allows a client to set calorie and macro nutrient goals.
- Calculate protein needs. Protein needs with formulas is mentioned in the above paragraph How Much Protein Is Needed Every Day?
- Include both animal and plant proteins in the diet. Eating a combination of both types of protein can help make the diet more nutritious.
- Choose high-quality protein sources like fresh meats, chicken, seafood, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts/seeds and whole grains.
- Consume a well-balanced diet. High Protein foods can be balanced with vegetables, fruits, and other plant foods at every meal.
Sample Of High Protein Meal Plan
Breakfast : 3 eggs, 1 slice of whole grain toast with1 tablespoon of almond butter and a fresh pear.
Lunch: Fresh Avocado and Cottage Cheese salad and an orange.
Dinner: 6 ounces of steak, chicken, or fish. Sweet potato and grilled zucchini.
Potential Adverse Effects of High Protein Diets
Around 65 percent of adults in the US report they are trying to eat more proteins. Unfortunately many high protein diets tend to be low in plant food and rely on animal products. This dietary pattern can be high in sodium, saturated fats, and heme iron and ow on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy plant oils. There are some health concerns associated witha very high protein diet.
Some studies have shown that excessive dietary protein could stress the pancreas and insulin secretion long term. Other ingredients in high animal protein diets like too much heme iron from red meats could also be harmful.
Protein influences how hard the kidney works. Current studies seem to indicate healthy kidneys can handle excess protein intake. However for clients with reduced kidney function would benefit from adhering to the recommended formula: 0.8/kg/day or 0.36/lb for slow kidney function decline.
Generally the high protein diets are safe and healthy for most people. On the other hand clients who already have moderate to advanced kidney disease will need to reduce their protein intake in order to preserve remaining kidney function. In addition, people with liver disease or other serious health conditions will need to check with their doctor before beginning a high protein diet.
Replacing some animal proteins with plant proteins was associated with a protective effect according to some studies. A healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian can advise on the amount of protein that is needed in every client.
Overall a high protein diet that is balanced with fruits, vegetables, grains, and plant oils is to be considered safe.
Mary Anne Chadbourne