There are many reasons to adopt and enjoy a low carb (read as low carb NOT no carb) diet. What some are concerned about however is that with the proven popularity of the low carb diet has arrived a high protein diet to "compensate" for the loss of the energy carbohydrates offer. Could too much protein be bad for your health?
The popular theory amongst those who feel that protein is bad for you in too high a quantity is that the kidneys are put under unnecessary stress as the body is unable to properly break down larger amounts of protein.
If there were truth to the idea that too much protein causes a health hazard then obviously there would be many in training, currently enjoying a protein filled diet that would be putting themselves at risk.Thankfully the short answer to the "is high protein bad" question is that protein does not cause harm to health. Of course it is important to remember that a healthy balance should occur in the diet, between suitable carbs, proteins and essential fats to maintain health and effectively fuel workouts however high protein will not hurt you.
High Protein is a Winner
Despite some people's concern higher levels of protein may actually be helpful when it comes to guarding against and reducing the risk of kidney disease. Where severe kidney disease is already in place (not caused by protein consumption!) it can aggravate the condition which is perhaps where this incorrect "high protein is bad for you" insinuation comes from.
High blood pressure, diabetes and other health risk factors contribute to and cause kidney damage and these (diabetes etc) may actually be reduced or avoided altogether if following a nutritious and healthy diet with a high protein intake.
Other Reasons to Enjoy Protein
Now we've established that high protein diets do no cause kidney damage we can concentrate on why protein is great for us:
- Protein encourages muscle mass development as well as aiding repair (via amino acids).
- Protein may prevent osteoporosis and other bone / skeletal ailments when enjoyed at a decent level over a long period of time. On the flip side, those not eating enough protein may be opening themselves to the risk of developing these dilapidating conditions.
- Protein keeps you fuller for longer and is an excellent source of fuel. This means that it helps avoid over-eating via hunger and to give yourself a quick (often artificial) energy boost. Those who over-eat and who rely on low GI foods for energy are much more likely to be over-weight and this means that they are at a much greater risk of a number of conditions, not least heart disease and diabetes.
Clearly a high protein diet does not deserve the bad reputation some people seem determined to give it as the real health and training benefits of enjoying a high protein, nutritionally based diet far outweigh any imagined or misinformed downsides.