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Are high-protein diets healthy? What man doesn’t want to believe that eating all the bacon, steaks, and cheese he wants while losing weight and feeling satisfied is the perfect diet? People really do lose some weight on high-protein, low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, and others. The problem is that these diets are not good for your health. The positive benefits you get from weight loss are outnumbered by the many negative health detriments from high-protein diets.
The reason high-protein diets help with weight loss is that they make you lose water. When you stop eating carbohydrates you lose water weight. Then the body begins burning its stores of fat, a process called ketosis. You may feel less hungry, but you may also experience headaches, nausea, kidney trouble, health palpitations, and irritability.
The American Heart Association does not recommend high-protein diets. The fatty meats and dairy can raise cholesterol and your risk of a heart attack. The diet is low on fiber and nutrients that you would normally get from vegetables, fruits, and grains. Instead, a much healthier weight-loss diet that includes some carbohydrates is going to be much better for you.
Are high-protein diets healthy for you? Here are some of the health risks they can pose long-term:
- Prostate cancer
- Increased cholesterol
- Heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- Kidney disease
High-protein diets may not create as much damage short-term, but they are not a healthy long-term eating plan. In fact, a Harvard study has found that eating red meat increases diabetes risk, and processed meats like bacon and hot dogs increase that risk even more.
A more healthy diet that you can follow for the rest of your life is the Mediterranean Diet. Mediterranean diet benefits go beyond nutrition. This diet can also make you feel satisfied because it includes healthy fats from nuts, olives, olive oil, avocado, and fish. It also provides variety, unlike the high-proteins diets, which can get pretty boring. Plus you don’t have to give up many of the foods you love, like pasta, whole grain bread, and fruits and vegetables.
The Mediterranean diet still allows protein sources of meat, but it recommends healthy proteins such as fish and leaner cuts of meat. Fish like salmon and tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are good for men’s prostate and heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help protect against prostate cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. Eat skinless chicken (as the skin is high in saturated fat) and opt for white meat, which is lower in fat than dark meat.
It is important to include plant-based proteins. Some of the best protein for prostate health comes from foods like beans, lentils, quinoa, and fermented soy products. Eating foods like fiber-rich beans can help you feel fuller longer and help lower cholesterol.
How much protein do you need?
Keep in mind that the Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 grams of protein for kilogram of body weight. That is equivalent to 54 grams of protein for an adult who weights 150 pounds. Some men who do strenuous labor, endurance sports, or body building will require more. An 8 oz filet mignon has about 54 grams of protein. A 3.5 oz chicken breast contains 36 grams of protein. So you can see that proteins adds up quickly in even a normal diet.
Whatever diet you choose to follow, you should include foods from the list of the best foods for men over 40. Besides being good for your waistline, these foods protect your bones, prostate, heart, brain, joints, and sexual health. Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, will help with your weight-loss plan and supply your body with the antioxidants and phytonutrients it needs to fight illness and meet your nutritional requirements.
Pan A et al. Changes in red meat consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: three cohorts of US men and women. JAMA Internal Medicine 2013 Jul 22; 173(14): 1328-35
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