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High protein diets arent the answer for weight loss


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Large portions of meat, eggs, cheese and bacon have long been a weakness for the casual dieter. Most Americans enjoy these foods and would welcome a good reason for their limitless indulgence. The potential for weight loss by eating an abundance of these foods sounds too good to be true. However, the Atkins diet, among other high-protein diets, promises just that.

Many consider the high-protein craze to be a popular new strategy for successful weight loss; however, this type of diet was conceived decades ago in one form or another. In fact, Dr. Atkins testified in 1973 before the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, defending the diet against charges made by the American Medical Association.

High-protein diets have not been proven for long-term weight reduction. According to the American Heart Association, they may pose serious health risks if followed for more than a short period of time. Eating large amounts of high-fat animal foods over time has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends no more than three ounces of red meat daily.

The American Journal of Kidney Disease published a study that found six weeks of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet greatly increases the risk of developing kidney stones. Meanwhile, a diet high in complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy products and whole grains has been shown to reduce blood pressure and decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.

High-protein diets initially take off pounds by promoting loss of body fluids.

In many, weight will continue to be lost due to an overall decrease in calorie consumption. These diets often promote an eating regimen of only 1,200 calories. If you cannot eat bread, cake, cookies, candy, muffins, ice cream, pasta, most fruits, many vegetables or drink sugary soft drinks, chances are good that the weight will come off. Any diet will result in weight loss when calories previously consumed are eliminated.

Guidelines released by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine do not support extreme diets. The best advice is variety, balance and moderation. Include a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables daily; aim for at least five fruits and veggies. Choose whole grain breads, pasta and cereal. Consume lean, red meat in moderation. Cut back on sweets, salt and saturated fats. For additional health benefits, participate in some type of physical activity on a daily basis.

It's important to remember that extra calories cause people to gain weight. If you consume more calories than your body uses, they will be stored. This is true whether they are in the form of carbohydrates, protein or fat. A food item lower in fat is usually a better choice, but it does not give one license to consume three times as much. After all, the terms "low fat" and "fat free" are not the same as "calorie free."

The Journal of the American Medical Association provides methods to lose weight the healthy way:

Reduce fat, sweets and alcohol.

Do not eat while distracted, such as watching television or reading.

Incorporate a regular eating schedule, including meals and snacks. Limit grazing, and don't be governed by moods.

Exercise. Any physical activity is better than none. Hint: It doesn't have to be grueling.

For additional information regarding healthy weight loss or other nutrition-related concerns, contact a dietitian near you.


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