High-Protein Diet For Weight Loss: All You Need To Know


healthy-eating

There are lots of sources of protein – are made up of building blocks. Have you ever heard of amino acids? I’m guessing you learned about them in school, though you may have forgotten. There are 22 or 23 little building blocks that make up proteins, and nine of these blocks are what we call essential. In other words, the body can’t make them. The body can make most of the building blocks, but it can’t make those nine; you actually have to eat those building blocks, either in the same meal or within a ­couple of hours.

The great thing about high-quality protein – meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk – is that the whole batch of essential amino acids is present in a single food. They’re all there; it’s that simple. We call foods that contain the nine essential amino acids “complete” protein foods.

Vegetarians have to be careful. They need to put various building blocks together, because most vegetables contain only two or three or four of these essential amino acids—not the whole nine the body requires. To ensure that they’re getting all the essential amino acids in the same meal, vegetarians need to eat that with this and this with that. The closest plant food to a “complete” protein is probably soybeans.

There’s nothing wrong with high-quality proteins. To my mind, fish is the best high-quality protein. The trouble with a lot of complete protein foods (especially meat and dairy) is that they contain a lot of fat as well.

“And what about shellfish?” you ask. “I’ve heard that it contains cholesterol.”

It’s interesting, this cholesterol business. About one-quarter or one-third of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from something you’ve eaten. The other two-thirds or so is manufactured by your liver. Why is that? Why does the body produce cholesterol, if it’s something we try not to get much of? Well, the body needs it to help digestion, to produce sex hormones, and to produce the protective coating around cell membranes and nerves.

You definitely need some cholesterol; you can’t have nil in your body. The cholesterol produced in the liver is plenty. However, if you eat a lot of saturated fat (animal fat), your liver squeezes even more cholesterol into the bloodstream to help digestion and metabolism. It seems that the more meats, cheeses, and fatty fast foods you consume, the more cholesterol your liver produces.

Yes, shellfish contains some cholesterol, but listen to this: If you give a vegetarian pure egg yolks or oysters or prawns (or anything else with lots of cholesterol), the cholesterol level in that person’s blood doesn’t change much. If you give cholesterol-rich food to a heavy meat and saturated-fat eater, on the other hand, the blood level of cholesterol goes up. So it appears to be the combination of saturated animal fats and cholesterol that is the problem.

You can get away with shellfish some of the time, but you should eat regular fish most of the time when you’re looking for good Bonus protein.

The worst meats are obviously lunch meats, hams, and salamis, laden with animal fat that jumps out and almost hits you in the face. And sausages with big lumps of – wow, it heads straight for your arteries. Then you come down to your lean lamb and beef – they’re not too bad; they contain low amounts of saturated fat if you chop off the visible fat. There’s a ton of available iron in red meat as well, which your body needs; and don’t forget zinc. As a general rule, pasture-fed beef is more conducive to health than lot-fed beef.

­People often say that we should eat more chicken. Yet if you eat chicken with the skin left on, it fills you with – surprise! – more saturated fat than lamb or beef. Skinless chicken, on the other hand, contains less saturated fat than red meat.

When it comes to high-quality protein, fish is still the clear winner. For one thing, it contains way more omega-3 fatty acids (important for overall health) than red meat or chicken. Way more.

Lots of people keep pushing high-protein eating regimens, but let’s face it: the body doesn’t need as much protein as it matures into middle age and beyond. Besides, I keep going back to the races of people who live a long time and have little cancer, heart disease, or arthritis. Okinawans, for example. These folks eat a vast range of plant foods along with some protein and little animal fat.

One thing I know for sure is that the great majority of American diet gurus have never gone to a country that has no fat people and watched them eat. I’ll say it again – the diet of those lean and healthy people consists of a vast range of plant foods, with some protein (including plenty of fish) and very little animal fat. What they forget to tell you is that high-protein diets mean high fat. Excess protein puts a strain on your kidneys as we age and leeches calcium out of your bones.

Sure, a high-protein, high-fat, and low-carb diet produces weight loss, but no greater weight loss than a lower-protein diet. And even if you’re among the 5 percent of Western-style dieters who succeed, weight loss isn’t everything. The fact remains that eating food high in fat and protein over a long period of time increases the risk of cancer, the biggest health problem in the Western world today. We can fix lots of broken hearts, but fixing cancer is far more difficult. And what about three years down the road for those high-protein dieters? Have they kept the weight off?

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Dennis is a passioned blogger that loves to write about health and fitness.

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