Is a High Protein Diet the Best Diet?

Is a High Protein Diet the Best Diet?

Protein is a nutrition buzzword right now and for all the right reasons.  Protein not only helps rebuild lean muscle mass, it also helps maintain blood sugar and slow digestion, therefore keeping you full longer.  But here's the real question is a high protein diet the answer to achieve weight loss and maintain health?

High protein diets have proven themselves in the dieting world among the masses who have followed the paleo diet, Whole 30 or their own variation of a high protein eating pattern. With that being said there is a flip side to the success of a high protein diet that has shown to be far too common. They don't always stick. The high protein dieter eats nothing but animal protein and non-starchy vegetables for an extended period of time, they lose a bunch of weight and feel great, and then they allow themselves to indulge in the ever so satisfying carbohydrate.  Then a few days later they do it again, and again until eventually they have gone back to their previous eating plan and are thinking about ditching carbs all over again to re-lose the weight they've gained back.

Carbohydrates are important for every single healthy person.  There are circumstances where a low carb diet is recommended and those in those situations are often related to a chronic illness or prescribed in a hospital setting.  Otherwise, carbs are a daily necessity.

Carbohydrates come from a variety of sources including, grains, legumes, beans, fruit, vegetables and dairy as well as less natural sources like candy, sugary beverages, sauces and other sweetened processed food items.   The carbs from the natural sources (grains, legumes, beans, fruit, vegetables and dairy) are processed and broken down in our body differently than the list of processed carbohydrates above. The natural carb-rich foods contain other nutrients like fiber and protein for example that help slow the digestion of carbs.  Natural sources of carbs also always contain vitamins and minerals that contribute to health and are important components of a balanced diet that should not be skipped, like fiber and antioxidants.

Now for more details on protein, research has concluded that a high protein diet is the optimal diet for those wanting to lose weight, build muscle or even just simply maintain a healthy weight.  As stated previously, protein is an extremely important part of the diet and has some obvious health benefits. So what's the deal? Is a high protein diet low carb the answer, even though carbs from natural sources are also a great addition to daily meal plan?

Here's the answer:  A high protein eating style is great, but a no-carb eating style is not.  That means that we should include lean protein with meals and snacks, BUT we should also include complex carbohydrates throughout the day as well.  Carbs are not the enemy!

The takeaway of this article is simple. Don't fall for the high protein low carb diet trend, instead use it as a foundation for a more balanced style of eating that includes all food groups including your favorite less healthy foods.  Maybe consider following the 80/20 rule or the 90/10 rule, but skip the hassle of a restrictive diet and simply follow an eating style that includes lean protein sources (animal based or plant based), lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains and a few servings of healthy fat each day.  

Need help finding balance in your eating styles?  Reach out to Rachel, the Core Studios Dietitian, for guidance and support on jump starting your healthy habits today!

 

Rachel Dreibelbis, RDN

CORE Studios, 727 East Avenue, Pawtucket, RI, 02860