People adopt a high protein diet to lose weight. How does it help? How then to choose the right foods for a good diet plan? What is the downside of this diet? This and more is explained.
Protein is one of the three essential macronutrients that we need to survive. It serves important functions in the body besides keeping you alive. It is a nutrient that must be consumed every day with every meal in the right proportion.
It is present in every cell, tissue muscle, and organ and performs its functions at the cellular level. It boosts metabolism in the cells, which presents multiple advantages including the burning of calories.
Why is protein important?
Protein takes part in every process in your body cells. It lays the foundation of the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, and even your hair. It maintains your tissues in good health and helps in their repair. It helps you lose weight and belly fat and builds up your muscle mass and strength. You just have to take it in the right proportion.
Besides, proteins perform a variety of functions in the body. They mainly contribute in the following ways:
Repair and growth
Protein is the main constituent of the bones, muscles, hair, and skin. It contributes to the repair and growth of the cells in these tissues.
Enzymes are a special kind of protein that is found in the body cells. They are made up of long chains of amino acids. They catalyze the chemical reactions that take place in the body and help with functions such as digestion, blood clotting, and hormone production.
Protein hormones regulate the endocrine system of the body. Hormones are chemicals that function as messengers of the body. They facilitate communication between the body cells and the organs.
Examples include the growth hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone both secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.
Transportation and storage
Ferritin is an example of a protein that stores iron and hemoglobin is an example of a protein that transports oxygen to the body cells through blood.
How does a protein diet help lose weight?
A protein diet contains very little carbs. The diuretic effect of low carb diets can cause you to lose a gallon of water in pounds the first week.
Low carbohydrate levels cause blood sugar levels to drop. When the body does not have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fats to produce energy. This results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.
This is called ketosis, which makes losing weight easier because you do not feel hungry. Eating more protein helps a person feel full, which can lead to them eating less and consuming fewer calories overall.
Protein and hair health
Protein deficiency can cause excessive hair shedding and restricted hair growth. Without sufficient protein, your hair turns brittle and falls off before its full growth.
About eighty percent of your hair is made up of a protein called keratin. The root of the hair and the hair shaft is made of protein.
Protein is, therefore, vital for the life of the hair cells and is essential for repairing damaged hair and producing new hair.
Proteins taken through your diet form the building blocks that keep your hair strong and in the growing phase.
However, hair loss due to protein deficiency is reversible. All you have to do is add enough proteins to your diet.
The downside of a protein diet
High-protein diets typically contain large quantities of proteins and very little carbohydrates. These diets often restrict carbohydrate foods like cereals, grains, fruits, and some vegetables.
The value of high-protein diets for weight loss or cardiac health remains contentious. In athletes, while high amounts of protein consumption are beneficial, to gain muscle and strength, there is little proof of any benefit from increasing protein intake above 2g/kg body weight/day.
Most nutritionists describe the high protein diet as unbalanced and unhealthy.
A balanced diet may be defined as that, which contains the proper proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fluid.
A healthy diet is one that provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, macronutrients, micronutrients, and adequate calories.
A high protein diet lays more stress on protein intake and less on other nutrients. Though protein helps boost metabolism, excessive protein intake (more than 200 g per day), together with an inadequate intake of other calorie sources such as fat or carbohydrates, can cause a metabolic disturbance, which can be dangerous.
High protein diet food list
The best high-protein diet plans to focus on lean proteins with the inclusion of some carbs. Avoid big helpings of fatty meats and include vegetables.
- Lean meat will help you get all of the protein and a lot less unhealthy fat.
- Choose white meat when you’re buying chicken and avoid the skin.
- Today, pork cuts are much leaner and some portions of pork offer more proteins without much fat. You should look for tenderloin, rib chops, sirloin steak, or shoulder blade steaks.
- Fish is rich in protein and very low in fat. Even fish that have more fat, such as salmon and tuna, are good choices because they contain healthy fats. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.
- Eggs are another source of protein and it is safe to consume one or two daily. Though the egg yolk contains cholesterol, it very unlikely to raise your blood cholesterol levels.
- Tofu, soy, and other soy-based foods are good sources of plant-based protein.
- Beans contain a good amount of proteins. Besides they also contain fiber, which makes you feel full and helps lower your bad cholesterol.
- Low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt are a good addition to your protein diet because, besides proteins, they deliver calcium and help keep your calorie consumption low.
- Most high-protein diets limit grains, but you make sure to include whole grain and cereals in your diet for those proteins and fiber.