We are all skeptic when a new diet becomes popular, but recently I began doubting a current diet trend (and one I’ve been eating for years!) that has been lingering for a quite sometime now – thinking that a high protein diet is the healthiest way to eat.
In my opinion, we are in protein overdrive. One of the best indicators to test how healthy your diet is – is to start paying attention to how it makes you feel afterwards and by how your gut responds within the next 24 hours.
I really loved a high protein diet because it fills you up quickly, but lots of protein is really hard on your digestive system. It has to work overtime to break down all that protein. I am not doctor or dietician, but I would definitely question foods (and drinks) that are hard on the digestion system repeatedly or if they make you bloat, as something that could possibly affect your long-term health.
BLINDED BY THE HEALTH INDUSTRY YET AGAIN
And you probably didn’t even realize how much the high lean protein trend has taken over the health and fitness industry. The grocery store is packed with some of the leanest cuts of meat in U.S. history. The meat section is filled with items like chicken breasts and extra lean ground beef and turkey. There is a very limited section (if at all) of fattier cuts of meat. Seriously! Take a look around next time you are in a grocery store. All cuts are trimmed and perfectly prepared, leaving only the leanest parts for consumers to eat. We are also consuming protein powders at an all-time high and often are combining both powdered, plant and animal protein together into our daily diets. But is it that healthy, really? I mean REALLY? And where do protein powders come from anyway? These are things we should pay more attention to as consumers to help us make healthy food choices.
Animal based protein powders are made from whey, which is derived from cow’s milk during the cheese making process (no wonder why protein shakes are so rich and creamy). Whey protein is mechanically separated and spray-dried to form a powder. It is also a very lean source of protein and is highly consumed by millions of Americans. It is often included in a high lean protein diet.
Through this significant health shift, Americans are still just as overweight as they were 20 years ago. Sure, protein does help build muscle, but it isn’t the most important thing you need to do. The most important thing you need to do to build muscle and lose weight is to exercise and lift weights regularly (and correctly). If you aren’t doing that, protein ain’t going to do much for you in the long haul.
I think it is time to ask ourselves 3 really important questions when it comes to heavily leaning on protein to gain muscle and lose weight…
Is it really giving me the results I want?
Do I feel addicted to protein?
Can a high lean protein diet affect your health long-term?
The Truth is…
…Nobody knows yet. It’s too early to tell. We will eventually see long term affects as we age.
IS FAT REALLY THE ENEMY THOUGH?
Fat has always had a bad reputation. In the 1990’s, people thought if you ate it, you would become fat. Then in the 2000’s, protein powder became the new craze and as the trend started growing in popularity, we all became obsessed with eating massive amounts of lean protein and still remained to hate on anything that was considered fatty.
I personally think fat gets a bad reputation because of the way it looks. It looks bad on people. It looks gross on your plate and according to our brain’s reasoning skills, all things that are unappealing to the eye are well, thought of as gross. We need to get rid of that notion. It’s perfectly okay to eat an animal (if you are into that) the way they came – with fat and skin. Not every protein has to be lean with like 2% fat. Let’s chill out a little….
Healthy fats include saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and certain types of polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. There is also a trans fat that is healthy! Wait, what? We have all been taught that trans fat is one of the most unhealthiest fats and it has been literally banned from production by the Food and Drug Administration. Not this trans fat though. It is a natural occurring from grass-fed meats and dairy fats, like butter or yogurt. So eat away!
Fats are important because they are actually packed with amazing things that do wonders for our body, including:
- Boost metabolism
- Transport nutrients
- Builds cells
- Boost brain function
- Aid in a better body composition
- Increases muscle
- Fights heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Healthier skin
THE CRAP KETO DIET VS. THE REAL KETO DIET
The Keto diet is appealing to many people. For fitness enthusiasts, it can put your body into a “fat burning state” and help build lean muscle. The diet also appeals to older and less active people because they can still eat things like bacon and lose weight. The truth is, there are two types of Keto diets – the CRAP Keto diet and the REAL Keto diet.
The crap Keto diet is what most people “think” the Keto diet is, only eating meat, cheese, eggs, some veggies and bacon. THIS IS NOT THE KETO DIET! This is the lazy version of the diet. Sure, you may lose some weight by ditching sugar, starchy vegetables and eliminating grains, but you are also consuming more unhealthy fats than you should. Chances are… you are probably also eating way too much protein and non-grain flours (like coconut flour) as well. Be careful. These can creep up on you and are hard to eliminate out of your diet.
The real Keto diet is about making sure you are eating HEALTHY fats and lots of them. Sixty-five percent of your daily diet should be from healthy fats like, coconut oil, nuts, fish, fattier meat cuts (not bacon and sausage), eggs, avocado, nut butters, seeds and dairy products. You can still eat bacon and sausage-like meats, but eat them sparingly. Eating lots of fat everyday is tough too. Often most people who start the Keto diet, still eat too much protein and not enough fat – even though you may still think are. Keep good tabs on what you consume. Your protein portions should be way smaller than your used to.
You are also not allowed to eat starchy vegetables. How come? Because they have 5x more carbs per serving than most other vegetables. On the Keto diet, you should only be consuming about 5% of your daily calories from vegetables, which is about 75 calories a day derived from vegetables. Yup, you heard me… that’s it!
The Daily Breakdown of Calories on the Keto Diet
Based on 1,500 per Day
- 65% (or higher) of healthy fats = 975 calories per day
- 30% (or lower) of protein = 450 calories per day
- 5% (or lower) of carbohydrates from vegetables = 75 calories per day
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis occurs when fat is broken down to produce energy, which then produces ketones, which is a type of acid. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood is known as ketosis.
Russel Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic in the 1920s, which produces a high level of ketone bodies in the blood through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrates.
It was initially created to help cure Epilepsy and to help prevent seizures. Since then it has lingered around but has recently become very popular to help people lose weight.
Ketosis is believed to help treat chronic illnesses, reduces inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and to optimize performance. The diet may have been around for nearly 100 years, but there isn’t a lot of research that has been conducted to conclude these statements as true or false.
MY BIG TAKEAWAYS FOR THOSE CONSIDERING TRYING THE KETO DIET
The Keto diet isn’t a cure-all diet and you should be very careful and make sure you do your research before diving into the Keto lifestyle. I am about 3 weeks into the Keto and I feel amazing! I have little to no cravings for sugar, lost some weight and have a consistent clear energy. My body composition is changing by becoming slightly leaner. One thing did happen that I didn’t expect to…my brain feels rejuvenated and I feel a decrease in muscle inflammation. All and all… my body and brain are feeling pretty good right now!
Please note that I may have a different philosophy about how I do diets than other people. My preference is to let my body guide me based on my goals and how it makes me feel. I might adjust my calories and types of food to better accommodate my needs. I would recommend you do the same. Don’t get caught up in all the crap. Pay more attention to your own body and tweak your diet as needed to work best for you.
I am also still in the process of monitoring my progress and scheduling a doctor visit for an annual check up! I would like to see where my health is sitting while on the diet (compared to before the diet). I will report back with my results, so stay tuned!