2. What are the best sources of protein?
It seems that the debate about which foods provide the best quality protein without an unwanted amount of fat will never end. However, the king of high-protein foods seems to be the egg after all – not only does it pack all essential amino acids, but it provides many other crucial nutrients such as choline and a variety of vitamins and minerals and supplies the body with a significant amount of “good” cholesterol. Other important sources of high quality protein are diary products, chicken, turkey and fish and seafood, the last of which are preferred because they’re typically low in fat and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Snacking on nuts is also considered as one of the optimal ways to increase your protein consumption, but this is not really true since nuts are a rather incomplete source of protein, containing only 6 grams per ounce and lacking some of the essential amino acids. On top of that, their high caloric density makes them a bad choice for people with restricted calorie intake. However, nuts offer plenty of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, so they certainly deserve an appropriate place in a well-balanced diet.
In addition, animal protein sources are complete sources of protein because the protein found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy is similar to the protein found in the body and includes all the essential amino acids that the body needs. At the same time, plant protein sources, such as beans, lentils and nuts are considered to be incomplete sources of protein because they lack one or more of these essential amino acids. This makes animal foods a higher quality protein source than plant foods.
However, if you’re not able to meet your daily protein intake requirements from whole foods, you can include protein supplements in your diet to enhance your progress. According to many studies, protein supplements are a valid alternative to animal sources of protein.
3. What are the health risks of a high-protein diet?
Many nutritionists have raised concern about the potential dangers of the high-protein diet, especially in terms of kidney and liver function. While it’s true that eating too much protein can worsen kidney function in people with preexisting kidney problems, studies have shown that regular consumption of 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight on a daily basis does not affect kidney or liver health in healthy young adults. When it comes to cholesterol levels, a long-term high-protein can actually help decrease the levels of “bad cholesterol” and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Another popular health issue surrounding the high-protein diet seems to be its effect on bone health. It has been proven that higher protein intake results in greater calcium excretion, but a number of new studies show that this excreted calcium comes from the diet, not the bones. This happens because excess protein consumption boosts calcium absorption, resulting with an increased level of calcium in the blood. The excess calcium then gets dumped into the urine by the kidneys. Many different studies have supported these findings and also provided evidence that high-protein diets are in fact beneficial for bone health in healthy people.
Regardless of your personal goals, scientific research has shown us multiple times that the high-protein diet is safe and beneficial for the majority of people. However, make sure to consult with your physician for any possible health problems that should be taken into consideration in terms of important dietary changes.