Do high protein diets work or are they unhealthy?

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We take a look at high protein diets and whether they work, are horribly unhealthy and how they've moved on from the days of Atkins.

woman standing on scales
It's coming up to bikini body season and we're all looking for that quick fix, so is protein the answer?

High-protein diets first became popular in the 1970s, made a comeback in the '90s thanks to Atkins diet and now are doing the rounds on the diet circuit yet again.

What did protein diets mean once?

Extreme protein diets were based on eating lots of protein, (meat, eggs, etc) but no carbohydrates.

Initial weight loss is good - up to 6kg (1 stone) in the first week but, unfortunately, this is made up of mostly water loss, not fat.

This process will make you feel weight loss very quickly, but actual fat loss happens at a much slower rate.

Why people stopped doing intense protein diets

  • It can bring about changes in fat cells, causing them to accumulate even more fat as soon as the person comes off the diet! They have been associated with mood swings and increased irritability - carbs have been linked to serotonin (the 'feel-good' hormone) in the brain

  • Possible increase the risk of osteoporosis; this is almost certainly because protein-rich foods are acid forming - this goes totally against the Alkaline Diet

  • The Acid increase can also contribute to Kidney problems and potential heart disease, diabetes and cancer

  • High protein often comes hand in hand with high saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease

  • Protein-only diets can cause an abnormal metabolic state called ketosis

Warm British Asparagus & Lentil Salad with Poached Eggs

Protein doesn't have to mean meat - try this Asparagus & Lentil Salad with Poached Eggs

What do protein diets mean now?

The human body is a complex system that requires a balance of all nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, the essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and water.

Therefore, the story is the same: A balanced diet is the key.

However, protein is essential for muscle development.

This means, if you're working out hard and training regularly, an increase in protein (especially whey) after your session will help you get your dream body.

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