You may have heard of some groups promoting high protein diet as a "new" strategy for successful weight loss. Protein content of some of such diets can go up to 30-60% of total energy. Carbohydrate content in such diets is reduced to as low as 5%. Fat energy goes up to as much as 30-60%.They are also recommended as a better "alternative" to the conventional carbohydrate-based diet.
Your patients and subjects must have asked you at some point about such diets. Please do not be misled by promotions of such high protein diets. Please stay with the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and endorsed by the Nutrition Society of Malaysa of the food guide pyramid that you are already familiar with. Almost all health authorities in the world, the WHO and FAO are following the same guidelines.
Below is the abstract of a recent article from the America Heart Association, commenting on this high protein diet. This article appreared in the journal Circulation 104(15): 1869-1874, 2001 and is an official statement from the AHA Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee of June 2001. You can read the full article in: http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/15/1869
High-protein diets have recently been proposed as a "new" strategy for successful weight loss. However, variations of these diets have been popular since the 1960s. High-protein diets typically offer wide latitude in protein food choices, are restrictive in other food choices (mainly carbohydrates), and provide structured eating plans. They also often promote misconceptions about carbohydrates, insulin resistance, ketosis, and fat burning as mechanisms of action for weight loss. Although these diets may not be harmful for most healthy people for a short period of time, there are no long-term scientific studies to support their overall efficacy and safety. These diets are generally associated with higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because the protein is provided mainly by animal sources. In high-protein diets, weight loss is initially high due to fluid loss related to reduced carbohydrate intake, overall caloric restriction, and ketosis-induced appetite suppression. Beneficial effects on blood lipids and insulin resistance are due to the weight loss, not to the change in caloric composition. Promoters of high-protein diets promise successful results by encouraging high-protein food choices that are usually restricted in other diets, thus providing initial palatability, an attractive alternative to other weight-reduction diets that have not worked for a variety of reasons for most individuals. High-protein diets are not recommended because they restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and do not provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. Individuals who follow these diets are therefore at risk for compromised vitamin and mineral intake, as well as potential cardiac, renal, bone, and liver abnormalities overall.
Dr Tee E Siong
Nutrition Society of Malaysia
c/o Division of Human Nutrition
Institute for Medical Research
50588 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia