As you well know, there are 3 macro-nutrients our body needs on a regular basis – fats, carbohydrates, and protein. People who are trying to lose weight instinctively stay away from fats because each gram of fat has 9 calories, whereas each gram of carb or protein has only 4 grams. In recent years, carbs have been getting a bad reputation.
The last macro-nutrient standing is protein. Dieters look for protein as their savior. And to some extent, it is. A meal or snack with ample protein will keep you satiated longer than a meal with a low protein count, not to mention the importance of protein in cellular growth. New lifestyle diets such as paleo and low-carb rely heavily on protein (and fats). Apparently, this may pose a health risk to middle aged people.
In a study published this week in Cell Metabolism, researchers equate the risk of high protein intake to that of smoking! They found a 75% increase in mortality and a 4-fold increase in the chances of cancer for people aged 50 to 65 who consumed high amount of protein, especially from animal sources. It’s interesting to note that the study found that the opposite was true for people over 65 years old!
The definition of high amount of protein is getting 20% or more of your daily calories from protein. for a 2000 calorie diet, that works out to 400 calories or 100 grams of protein. In food terms – that’s a pound and a half steak.
You may be thinking “Oh no! What’s left to eat?”
We don’t want to depress you. This is just one study. But it caught our attention because of the imbalance we often see in new and fad diets. One nutrient or food group is idolized, and the other is vilified. That’s just wrong.
The point we are trying to make is that a healthy diet is a balanced diet. This means less processed food and more home cooking. This means a balance of proteins from plant and animal sources, along with complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), and healthy fats.