Diet and exercise go hand in hand for people who want to lose weight and maintain good health. High-protein diets, such as the Atkins and South Beach Diets, are popular because they generally result in quicker weight loss than do diets featuring more carbohydrates. But is the high fat content of a mostly protein diet bad for your heart and blood pressure? According to some experts, not necessarily.
A 2011 study by Johns Hopkins University showed that a short-term, high-fat diet had no negative impact on overall health. In fact, study team leader and exercise physiologist Kerry Stewart said that the key to maintaining healthy blood vessels and vascular function is less about the type of diet and more about maintaining healthy body weight, particularly when exercise is included. Other research suggests that fat may be a more effective fuel source for physical activity than carbohydrates and may improve exercise performance, especially in endurance events.
Stewart noted that low-fat diets—often believed to be healthier—may actually contribute to obesity, because they are less satisfying. As a result, people on these diets tend to overindulge in more low-fat food than they should. He recommends a diet based on high-quality fats rather than junk food or heavily processed foods. Full-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows, unprocessed red meats and coconut oils are some of the foods recommended for good nutrition and maintaining healthy weight.
However, high-protein diets put more stress on the kidneys and may worsen kidney function problems. Some researchers also believe osteoporosis is more likely to develop in people who eat large amounts of protein because they may excrete more calcium than normal through urination.
A healthy diet in which carbohydrates make up 30% of calories, and fats from meat, dairy products and nuts make up 40% of calories, along with moderate aerobic exercise and lifting weights, can help you lose weight. Remember: Lasting weight loss is usually based on changes you can live with for a long time, not a temporary diet.