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A high protein diet is a typical bodybuilders diet, however an increasing number of weight loss diets also recommend high levels of protein – in order to maintain/increase muscle tissue whilst burning fat.
High protein diets typically contain 1g of protein per 1 pound of body weight. Some high protein diets will recommend a percentage of total calorie intake (such as 30% or more).
While this extra protein can be obtained through whole foods, some people choose to use supplements such as protein bars and shakes as a convenient way to increase protein consumption.
Protein bars should be consumed in moderation due to the large amount of highly processed ingredients that are used.
Why More Protein?
- Higher amounts of protein are required to build muscle mass.
- Digestion of protein tends to require more energy (also known as the thermic effect of feeding).
- Some believe that protein has a higher level of satiation.
Which Foods are High in Protein?
The following is a list of popular lean proteins (i.e. low in fat).
- Chicken and Turkey
- Fish (i.e. Tuna and Salmon) and other seafood
- Cottage cheese and other low-fat dairy
- Lean cuts of beef
- Whey protein powder
- Egg whites
Risks of a High Protein Diet
There is considerable difference of opinion surrounding high protein diets. Some nutritionists feel that diet too high in protein leads to renal (kidney) failure or stress. However there appears to be little evidence for this. High protein diets should be avoided if you already have kidney problems.
Other dietitians cite a dehydration risk with consuming large amounts of protein. Metabolizing protein does require a higher amount of water than carbohydrates or fats, so it’s important to consume a lot of water when on a high protein diet.
Popular High Protein Diets
There are a number of popular weight loss diets that are higher in protein – such as;
- Protein Power
- Muscle Gaining Diet
However it is important to note that a typical high protein diet implies lean proteins and remember that protein from all sources count for total protein.
This means that we don’t have to rely on animal products alone for our protein. Grains, legumes and other vegetables can contain a good supply of protein as well.
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Halton, T. L., Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373-385. link Friedman, A. N. High-protein diets: potential effects on the kidney in renal health and disease. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 44(6), 950-962. link
- Miller, D. S., MUMFORD, P. (1967). Gluttony 1. An experimental study of overeating low-or high-protein diets. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 20(11), 1212-1222. link
Last Reviewed: January 18, 2018
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