While protein itself does not seem to have a causative factor in the role of certain diseases, there is a high amount of correlation between diets high in animal protein and osteoporosis and cancer. These correlations are strongest when animal protein replaces vegetables and other plant-based foods. If you eat animal products, make sure you always eat vegetables with your meals as well, to offset the acidifying effects of protein and to add the numerous anti-cancer nutrients inherent in vegetables.
Increasing the amount of protein in your diet from 12-15% to 25-30% can be a great way to promote lean muscle and help burn more fat. These high-protein diets are also high in carbohydrates, as they are necessary to fully promote the thermogenic effects of protein. In a high-protein diet, more energy is spent trying to turn protein into glucose and satiety is dramatically increased, leading to a lessened likelihood to overeat.
It’s not challenging to meet the basic protein requirements, but if you do wish to up your protein to 25-30% a little more effort is required, especially if you wish to keep your total fat intake down as well. Eat a lot of high-protein veggies and beans and switch to pastured meats, which are significantly lower in fat in most cases. Incorporate high-quality protein shakes into your routine–only one a day may be necessary to get that extra bit of protein!
No matter how you get your protein, make sure it is never a replacement for your vegetables. Protein is just one nutrient out of many, and it cannot do everything. No matter what your goals are, whether they are to lose weight or gain strength, all of the micronutrients and phytonutrients in vegetables and fruits play an exceedingly important role in optimal health. When your body is healthiest, it loses weight and gains strength that much easier.
Protein can help, but don’t assign it more importance than it deserves. It is one nutrient in a continuum of nutrients, all of which are important and all of which should be taken into consideration.
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