Nutrition: Diet: Meal Planning: High Protein - Low Carbohydrates?
Anyone who's on a fad diet is painfully aware of some things now missing from the dinner plate. Not everything that your diet plan prohibits leaves such an obvious hole in your life. That may not be a good thing. Without your noticing it, your fad diet may be cutting out foods that give you important vitamins and nutrients you really need.
While losing weight is obviously great for your health, it isn't the only thing you need to worry about. But that's all any fad diet is designed to do. Good nutrition is often beside the point.
Do I Really Need to Worry About Nutrition?
Obviously, we don't mean to overstate the problem. But it's easy to underestimate the problem, too. Chronic nutritional deficiencies can affect your brain function and make you feel rundown and unwell. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to more serious problems, especially for people who already have other medical conditions.
Many vitamins and nutrients have been shown to help prevent serious diseases, like cancer and heart disease. Sticking to an imbalanced diet for a long time may lead to serious consequences.
High-protein/low-carb fad diets have come under some heavy criticism from the experts. By cutting out carbohydrates, imbalanced diets eliminate the food that is supposed to be the main source of fuel for your body—carbohydrates.
Many of the high-protein diets ignore the nutritional differences between different kinds of carbohydrates, experts say. But there's a world of difference -- nutritionally speaking -- between carbohydrates like refined sugar and vegetables or whole grain grains.
So what specifically might someone on a high-protein diet be missing?
Fiber, which is in many of the carbohydrates that are eliminated in high-protein diets, helps with digestion. It may also help prevent some serious diseases, such as heart disease.
Water. Carbohydrates have a lot of water in them. So when you cut them out, it's easy to get dehydrated without realizing it. Vitamins, such as A, B, C, and E, are plentiful in many high-carb vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Folic acid is in dark leafy greens and fruits and vegetables. It's also in many fortified foods, like cereals, which many high protein diets prohibit. Folic acid may reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease, and other problems.
Phytochemicals and antioxidants are in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which are known to help prevent a lot of different diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Many experts also believe that high-protein diets allow far too much fat. And even protein can be a problem in large amounts. Overloading on protein can harm your kidneys and affect your fluid balance. For some people, especially people who already have kidney problems, these diets may be dangerous.
Are Supplements the Answer?
Still, you might wonder if any of this worrying about nutrition still matters in the age of that scientific wonder, the nutritional supplement. But can you really atone for your nutritional sins at the end of the day with a handful of pills? NO.
The fact is that the science isn't good enough yet. We just haven't been able to discover, isolate, and manufacture all of the nutritious things that occur naturally in foods.
A supplement will never give you all the phytochemicals that you can get from fruits and vegetables. Supplements aren't a solution for the problems of an imbalanced diet.
Modifying Your Diet
So what if your fad diet plan isn't giving you all of the nutrition you need? Do you have to scrap it and start over? YES. Calculate your suggested macronutrient (protein, cabohydrates, and fats) with our calculator.
In the end, you need not a diet, but a sensible meal plan that you can stick to for life. Including sensible eating in restaurants and family outings with friends. While you may not want to hear it, you need to get regular exercise, too. Using common sense and moderation may not be a quick fix, but it will help. I know it sounds so boring, but the data shows that a sensible diet and exercise are the only things that work in the long run.
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