Is a high protein diet good for you?
Protein is an essential macronutrient and it is used by every part of the body to develop, grow and function properly. High protein diets are becoming popular as a strategy for weight loss by providing the benefits of improving satiety and decreasing fat mass. Despite their widespread use, valid concerns exist that high protein diets may induce clinically important alterations in renal function and health.
Why would high-protein diets be popular?
Studies show that eating a high-protein diet has a number of health benefits. Not only does it help you maintain and lose weight, but it also works to stabilize your blood sugar levels, improve your ability to learn and concentrate, reduce brain fog, boost your energy levels, support your muscles and bones and support the absorption of important nutrients.
On the other hand, metabolomics studies revealed that high intake of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine) and aromatic amino acids (Phenylalanine, Tyrosine) may be associated with the development of metabolic diseases, especially if you are also eating a high fat diet.
Diets high in protein pose a potential acid load to the kidneys, mainly as sulfates and phosphates. It was also hypothesized that calcium and hence bone mass was lost in order to buffer this acid load from a high protein intake.
When it comes to protein, it is important that you consume enough of it but you shouldn’t aim for a high protein diet. Instead, focus on eating more alkaline foods such as vegetables and good quality high fats like avocados, nuts and seeds.
Whereas diets high in protein have considerable beneficial effects on satiety and weight control, there are some issues with a high protein diet such as increased acid load to the kidneys or high fat content of animal proteins. Awareness of these issues enables us to make the right choices so we can get the most benefit from it.
High-protein diets: potential effects on the kidney in renal health and disease, Am J Kidney Dis. 2004