High Protein Diets are Safe
Readers of this blog should know by now that I am a strong advocate for "high" protein diets. I use that term "high" pretty loosely here simply because what most dietary guidelines tell you about protein ingestion seems to lead folks to believe that the bare minimum is good enough.
I have heard my fair share of false theories and claims surrounding high protein diets, and spend a good majority of my time encouraging increased protein consumption for clients of mine when it comes to dietary coaching. For years now, there seems to be a war being waged between high fat/low carb dieters and high carb/low fat dieters, or those folks in between who just keep saying, "Everything is fine in moderation."
What if the key to a successful body transformation and body weight maintenance revolved around increased protein ingestion? Blasphemous! High protein diets are dangerous, right? Too much protein is bad for your kidneys! Too much protein will make you fat! Too much protein will make your teeth fall out! (Ok, I made that last one up.)
Take a look at this recent study out of Nova Southeastern University in Florida:
The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of a high protein diet over a one-year period. Fourteen healthy resistance-trained men completed the study (mean ± SD; age yr; height cm; and average years of training yr). In a randomized crossover design, subjects consumed their habitual or normal diet for 2 months and 4 months and alternated that with a higher protein diet (>3 g/kg/d) for 2 months and 4 months. Thus, on average, each subject was on their normal diet for 6 months and a higher protein diet for 6 months. Body composition was assessed via the Bod Pod®. Each subject provided approximately 100–168 daily dietary self-reports. During the subjects’ normal eating phase, they consumed (mean ± SD) kcals/kg/day and g/kg/day of protein. This significantly increased () during the high protein phase to kcals/kg/day and g/kg/day of protein. Our investigation discovered that, in resistance-trained men that consumed a high protein diet (~2.51–3.32 g/kg/d) for one year, there were no harmful effects on measures of blood lipids as well as liver and kidney function. In addition, despite the total increase in energy intake during the high protein phase, subjects did not experience an increase in fat mass.
First of all, note the fact that the test subjects consumed 2.51-3.32g/kg of protein per day. I personally weigh 195lbs. That means I would be consuming 222-294g/protein each day. Just to give you some context, I tend to follow the advice I give my clients - aim for 1g of protein for every pound of body weight, and even that alarms people with how much protein they should be consuming!
So not only was the, by all accounts - extremely high protein consumption diet safe, the participants of the study also did not gain any body fat. That is despite the fact that they consumed more calories than needed on a day to day basis.
To be honest, it would be nice to somehow fund a much longer-term study to see if increased protein ingestion had any adverse health effects over many years, however, based on this study, and the lack of adverse health markers, one could assume or postulate that there shouldn't be any negative risk factors over a longer-term.
Interesting, none-the-less, and certainly more evidence that I will share with my readers and clients going forward as I continue to strongly advocate a high protein diet.
Tyler Robbins B.Sc. CSCS
Director of Fitness
Head of CrossFit