With so much confusion out there these days about Paleo diets, whole food diets, Atkins diet, everyone seems to be on a protein craze…..which is good to a point, but it is important for us to know how to balance protein with other foods for optimum health.
Protein is sort of the magic bullet to weight loss, no matter what perspective you take on it. It is high in thermic effect (burns a lot of calories during digestion), fuels muscle cells (which builds the metabolism), and balances blood sugar (which prevents insulin spikes/fat storage). When studies have compared different “diets,” the one factor that seemed to make the most difference was always protein.
Diets like Atkins are based on almost pure protein and fat and almost no carbohydrates. While these definitely help with rapid weight loss, the health concerns surrounding too much protein still exist.
- Just like carbohydrates, your body can only use a certain amount of protein every day. Any additional (if not used as energy) can be stored as fat. It’s important to eat a moderate amount, but not overload.
- Reduced liver function – When we eat protein, our bodies produce ammonia which is rendered harmless by the liver. When we eat excessive amounts of protein over time, our liver gets overworked, allowing ammonia and other toxins to build up in the bloodstream.
- Acid/Alkaline balance – Proteins fall in the more acidic category while fruits and vegetables fall into the alkaline camp. The body is made to beautifully regulate its own acid/alkaline balance to a certain extent, but when we give the body too much protein over time without enough fruits and vegetables to balance it out, the body becomes too acidic. This increases our risk for cancers, depletes minerals from the body (especially calcium from the bones), decreases immune function, and contributes to many other health conditions as well.
The basic premise of Heart In Motion that you all started with in Week 1 (that sure was a long time ago : ) was to eat a Fruit OR Vegetable AND Protein every time you eat. So, if you know someone who is pushing protein but is forgetting about the need for balance, pass this article on to them. Remember that weight loss is great, but we want optimal health as well!
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Make sure that you are eating appropriate portions of protein every time you eat (2-3 oz. snacks and 3-4 oz. at meals). Always pair your protein with a fruit or vegetable.