If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably wondering what the “best” diet is for you to eat. How do you know which foods will help you effectively shed excess pounds in a healthy way?
The Center for Medical Weight Loss often recommends a high protein diet to anyone looking to lose weight. High protein diets tend to help people feel less hungry while maintaining muscle mass as they drop pounds. Keeping muscle is very important as muscle helps burn more calories than does fat, so having a higher muscle mass will help keep up your metabolism.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
To maintain good nutrition while losing weight, the general recommendation is 60 grams of protein per day for women and 80 grams of protein per day for men. The Center for Medical Weight Loss adapts these protein requirements to an individual based upon his or her weight and body composition analysis. Many people may need extra protein in their diets depending on what the results of these tests show.
What High Protein Foods are Best?
Lean animal proteins like chicken, fish, and lean cuts of meat are good choices, as are nonfat dairy, yogurt, beans, lentils, and nuts in moderation. Though a lot of people argue that soy protein is very good for you, soy can be problematic for men or for women who have had breast cancer since it contains phytoestrogens, a type of plant hormone that acts like estrogen in the body. High protein fatty foods, like fatty cuts of red meat, full-fat dairy, and fast foods, should be limited both for health and weight loss reasons.
In general, the high protein foods you choose to eat on a weight loss program should be combined with foods that are moderate to low carb and low fat for the best weight loss results. The Center for Medical Weight Loss offers weight loss plans that are already balanced for the ideal amount of protein, carbs, and nutrients for losing weight and maintaining optimum health.
Can High Protein Diets be Dangerous?
There used to be concerns that a high protein diet could damage the kidneys and cause renal failure. However, scientific studies have not supported that claim. In fact, high protein diets can be beneficial to diabetics (because they’re usually lower carb diets) as well as people who are insulin-resistant or have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The only people who should definitely avoid a high protein diet are those with kidney disease or a renal deficiency because they are unable to excrete the waste products of protein metabolism. But if you’re generally healthy, eating a high protein diet to lose excess pounds shouldn’t be a problem.
The most important thing to keep in mind: Losing weight isn’t just about the amount of protein, it’s also about calories. No matter how much or little protein you’re taking in, in the end you have to consume fewer calories than you expend to achieve any sort of weight loss.
Suja Pilli, MD
Shaun J. Adams, MSN, FNP-C