One of the latest diet crazes is the low-carb, high-protein diet. Proponents of this program claim that carbohydrates are the main cause of weight gain due to their effects on appetite and metabolism. High-protein diet supporters claim that carbohydrates cause swings in blood sugar that can stimulate overeating. To suppress the appetite, they suggest dieters eat more protein instead of carbohydrates because when the body lacks carbohydrates, it goes into a state called ketosis, in which it burns fats for fuel. This allegedly helps dieters melt fat away. While recent studies have suggested that high-protein diets can help reduce appetite, some scientists and doctors have their doubts about the efficacy and safety of high-protein diets.
Dangers of High-Protein Diets
Doctors claim that too much protein and too little carbs can lead to various health problems, including:
- Low energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel, and avoiding them can cause the body’s engine to run less efficiently.
- Kidney failure. Too much protein taxes the kidneys, potentially causing kidney disease.
- Metabolic issues. Some doctors claim that ketosis is actually a harmful state for the body. This metabolic state can lead to nuisances like nausea and bad breath and health issues like gout and kidney stones.
- Poor overall health. Dieters who avoid carbohydrates also miss out on the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that may be found in those foods. For example, many fruits contain antioxidants and other vitamins necessary for optimal body function, but they are off-limits to low-carb dieters due to their sugar content. Not getting a balanced diet can cause many health problems, from malnutrition to cancer.
Do High-Protein Diets Really Work?
Studies have shown sustained weight loss in those on a low-carb, high-protein diet. However, some scientists believe this weight loss is caused more by the overall calorie reduction than by ketosis or some other mysterious mechanism. Since protein does reduce the appetite, people on these diets simply eat less food. Despite this positive result, the health risks of these diets outweigh the benefits. Dieters are advised to consult with their doctors before beginning any new diet.