Weighing the pros and cons of a high protein diet

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, protein from foods like meat, fish and eggs should make up 26 percent of your daily caloric intake.

In 12 months, Kim Hastings went from 26 to 13 percent body fat and lost 12 pounds. She credits two things: a boot camp class and a lot of protein.

"I take over 200 grams of protein a day, I think an average person probably takes about a hundred,” she said.

Certified personal trainer Bryan Daskam said most of us do not get enough protein.

"People need more protein? Yeah especially if you're going to exercise, even if you're not exercising, you have to,” Daskam said.

Labels on all kinds of foods are pushing extra protein. But Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Kim Leblanc said we do not need it.

"The normal diet even when it's not really terrific, the normal diet will have enough protein in it. If you eat too much protein you will turn it into fat,” she said.

There is no data to say people need more than the recommended doses, and according to Dr. Leblanc, protein supplements, shakes and bars are unnecessary and rely on marketing.

Others disagree.

“You know I've seen the changes in my body so I think high protein is the way to go,” Kim said.

If you decide to go on a high protein diet, check with your doctor first, because too much protein can be a bad thing, especially for people with kidney problems.

And if you are starting an intensive exercise program, like marathon training and want to take a protein supplement, sports medicine experts say "whey protein" is not as good as "casein protein" to help you build muscle.

Research summary:

THE GREAT PROTEIN DEBATE: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

BACKGROUND: According to trainer Kim Hastings, a high protein diet is the way to go if you are trying to shed extra pounds however, not everyone agrees. Sports medicine specialist Dr. Kim Leblanc says we don't need the extra protein that food labels are pushing and that a person's normal diet will have sufficient protein without the additives and supplements. Still, Hastings credits her successful weight loss to two things: a boot camp class and a lot of protein. High-protein foods include beef, chicken, fish, eggs and some dairy, beans, soy, nuts and seeds. Protein is used to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is also a building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

WHAT IS A HIGH PROTEIN DIET: According to the American Dietetic Association, diets that contain more calories from protein than is recommended could be considered high-protein diets. Usually this means that the total number of calories a person consumes each day, 25 to 35 percent of those calories come from protein, as opposed to a typical diet in which only about 10 to 15 percent of calories come from protein."
But how much protein is enough? According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three daily servings for a total of seven ounces. For children age 2 to 6, most women, and some older people, the government recommends two daily servings for a total of five ounces. For older children, teen girls, active women, and most men, the guidelines give the nod to two daily servings for a total of six ounces.

PROS AND CONS:
* A major benefit of high protein intake is that it leaves the person feeling full for a longer period of time and therefore curbs the dieters desire to eat frequently, which can lead to weight loss
* A major risk is eating only protein forces the body into starvation mode because you are depriving your body of necessary carbohydrates and the body begins breaking down muscle
DIVERSITY IS KEY: It is important to remember to diversify your diet. A helpful tip when diversifying your diet is to eat from all the colors of the rainbow to get those essential nutrients your body needs.

For More Information, Contact:
Leslie Capo
lcapo@lsuhsc.edu
504-568-4806


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