Please note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Lately, it has come to my attention the chaos and confusion existing in the nutrition realm. Everyone who can speak has an “opinion” on what is healthy or what you should be eating. In fact, on my clients’ general instructions I have had to add, “please remove all voices you may hear and trust what I am telling you is the right way to eat to gain health and reach your goals” due to the mass amounts of confusion.
Of course, I do completely understand, we are all searching for a quick fix, the easy way out. I am a dietitian, not a magician. If it were easy, we would all have picture perfect health and bods. Unfortunately for me, my field has been muddled with opinions, rather than science based facts. So I have decided to periodically answer some of the questions I am asked on a regular basis. Whether it be in my office, in an email, or at the coffee shop, I receive numerous wonderful questions, so I want to start writing down the answers I have to give.
Q1: Is it possible to restrict my diet and caloric intake too much?
Time and time again I get the response, “If this makes me gain weight…” or “this is so much more food than I am used to eating. Inside I chuckle a bit, because for far too long they have deprived themselves and reaped little reward from their efforts. Why? Our bodies are extremely efficient machines, and will do just what they are told. What am I referring to? If we restrict ourselves too much, too fast we may reap immediate results, but long term repercussions. It is possible to take calorie restriction too far. Sitting there, doing very little other than blinking and sucking wind you still burn quite a bit of energy. In fact, as dietitians we were trained to calculate this BMR (basal metabolic rate) quickly and efficiently. And you would be surprised how much fuel your tank requires to do nothing but function at rest! As a general rule, most people need at least 1200 calories to fuel their everyday activities. People who are more active and exercise regularly require much more. A diet too few in calories may not only hinder weight-loss, but also makes it very difficult to meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs, leading to negative impacts on health.
Q2: Is it possible to eat too much protein?
Protein is a great thing! So many benefits for the body including blood sugar regulation, muscle strength preservation, body building and cell repair, burns more energy to digest than simple refined carbohydrates, and the list continues. My issue with protein currently is the CRAZE. Protein this, protein that. Must have more! Well, If you live on American soil, you have very little trouble meeting the minimum requirements. In fact, the average American consumes double the amount we actually need (average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight a day, which comes out to roughly 56 grams of protein a day for men and 46 for women).
All the lean protein sources such as egg whites or tuna and protein shakes are fantastic, but make sure you are looking beyond your protein intake to all the other food groups. Such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
As far as too much protein there is no real evidence as what too much really looks like or what it can do to you. A few issues we know to be true, without waivering evidence includes unintentional weight gain, kidney function, and dehydration. There are many more “possible” consequences, but I want to give you what we KNOW to be true.
If you have increased the protein in your diet without cutting calories you will find yourself tipping the scale in the opposite direction you may be desiring, and it is NOT always muscle gain.
The kidneys take care of some filtering of waste products made when our bodies digest protein, and there’s some evidence to suggest that diets higher in protein put a greater strain on the kidneys to get the job done. Research does suggest the damage is mostly noticeable in the early stages of kidney disease, which is more dangerous than one would imagine, considering there are no symptoms of any kidney issues in the earliest stages.
You may also find yourself quite dehydrated when daily protein intake is increased.
One of the waste products the kidneys are responsible for removing include urea nitrogen, researchers use blood urea nitrogen to evaluate kidney function and hydration. Researchers found as protein intake increased in the diet, hydration level decreased. When increasing protein in the diet, be sure to increase the clear liquid in the cup, aka water.
Q3: Is it possible restricting carbohydrates is not a healthy approach to weight loss?
Man, this question, so much time I could spend on this one topic, in fact, I foresee a blog in the near future addressing low carb diets head on. But for now I will answer the question as short and quick as I can possibly do so.
Pasta, rice, cereals and bread are among the first foods ditched by those looking for a speedy slim down. And not without good reason. Studies have found extreme low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins or the Ketogenic diet can lead to more weight loss than other low-fat regimes. But not without consequences. Carb cutting is the most effective diet for immediate weight loss, but it is not recommended for longer periods of time (six months or so). There are definite promises of quick weight loss, but very little assurance of sustained weight loss. Once the carbohydrate restriction has been removed, weight gain tends to be inevitable.
Words like intermittent fasting and carbohydrate cycling all have their own paragraphs to be written, but for now, eliminating carbohydrates long term is not the solution to your dietary issues. So to answer, yes it is not a healthy approach to weight loss. Rather, a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables is a much better solution to your weight loss goals, without the metabolic consequences.
I do hope I have helped.
DO you have a burning question you would like answered ?
Be sure to leave a comment with your questions and consider the Foodie Member group!
A place for all your questions to be answered, tips, tools and Secret Sartain recipes NOT on the blog!
Your Local Dietitian