Health Benefits and Potential Concerns of a High Protein Diet

Health Benefits and Potential Concerns of a High Protein Diet

Protein is an essential macronutrient and a basic component of a healthy diet. It is highly important for muscle growth and repair, maintenance of bones and tissues, and weight loss. Over the years, protein meals have gained importance as one of the most popular diets for reducing fat and for instantly losing a few pounds. However, along with some distinct benefits, there also lie some disadvantages, especially when protein is consumed excessively or more than what is recommended.

What is the correct daily protein intake for an individual? 

The right amount of protein an individual need depends on their age, height, weight and overall health conditions. However, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) stands at 0.8gram per kilo. That means if a person weighs around 70 kilos, then the RDA is 56 grams of protein. A person can experience health benefits by consuming 30% of calories from protein. 

Advantages of a high protein diet

A high protein diet may benefit you in many ways. The top four are:

  • Reduces hunger and helps with satiety

Protein has a unique ability to reduce appetite and improve satiety. It accelerates the ‘stop eating’ hormone in our body. Research suggests that high-protein meals make you feel full and satisfied, which ‌helps with portion control. With a high-protein diet, one feels less hungry. 

Many studies have claimed that a high-protein diet decreases hunger and the total food intake in a day. That means the amount of food consumption goes down plus you successfully calm hunger. 

  • Causes weight loss

A high-protein diet is good news for people trying to lose weight. Numerous pieces of evidence have shown that a high-protein diet helps you to burn calories and helps to lose weight. 

This specific diet leads to reduced appetite, and this contributes to reduced calorie intake. Not only do protein rich meals help with weight loss, but it also prevents weight gain, contributes to a drop in cholesterol levels and improve blood cholesterol. 

  • Helps to build muscle mass and increases strength

Muscle is made of protein. To build muscle mass, your body needs to make more protein than it breaks down. So if you want to build muscle, remember to eat a protein-rich meal. 

According to researchers, a high-protein diet helps people to gain muscle mass and build strength. That means people who eat more protein build more muscle. So meals high in protein could help you maintain the muscle you've built and also prevent muscle loss. 

  • Improved control over blood sugar levels

Compared to a low-protein diet, high-protein diets provide greater metabolic benefits. Reports suggest that a high-protein diet could improve insulin sensitivity and provide better control over blood sugar. Doing high protein also has in store many benefits for a Type 2 diabetic patient. High protein enhances insulin secretion in a Type 2 diabetic and lowers blood pressure. 

Risks associated with a high protein diet

It is important to note that a high protein diet is ‌safe for every person. A high-protein diet is not associated with significant health concerns however, its excessive consumption could lead to certain health problems. Let's take a look. 

  • Risk to kidney health

According to a study conducted by the American Society of Nephrology, a high-protein diet including animal protein has a detrimental effect on kidney health. The report suggests that high protein causes certain metabolic complications that may affect kidneys adversely. 

However, high protein is not known to have any significant adverse effect on kidney functioning in healthy adults. That being said, people with certain pre-existing kidney conditions are advised to restrict their protein consumption and consult a doctor before starting a high-protein diet.

  • The dangers of dehydration

The risk of dehydration could be another problem for a diet high in protein. Many long-term observational studies suggest a higher intake of fluid for both athletes and non-athletes while on a high-protein diet. This is because meals enriched with protein have been found to influence hydration, thus creating problems with endurance. 

  • Could cause nutritional deficiency

A high protein diet may cause a certain nutrition deficiency among people. This is because a high-protein diet might reduce the consumption of other essential nutrients like vitamins and carbohydrates and healthy fats. Too much protein could disturb the theory of a balanced diet. This deprivation can put a strain on the body and cause a nutritional deficiency. 

  • May cause constipation

The nutritional deficiency that happens when protein is consumed excessively creates another threat, which is constipation. Reduced consumption of carbohydrates may lead to a lower fibre intake, thus leading to gastrointestinal issues like constipation. The dietary fibre present in carbs adds bulk to stools. 

The bottom line

Although a high protein diet generally benefits a healthy adult, it is not entirely free from risks. A high-protein diet could be an excellent choice for people who want to build muscle strength and lose weight. However, the intake of protein should be within limits. 


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