High protein diets have been all the rage among athletes for several years now. Along with the muscle-building benefits of protein – which is obviously key to protein synthesis – a high protein diet has been linked with weight loss as well. One extremely fascinating study even found that subjects who were following a high protein diet (where 30 percent of their calories came from protein) with no restrictions to their calorie intake lost more weight than another group that was under caloric restriction. The prevailing theory, based on previous research, is that protein increases feelings of fullness so that the subjects self-limited and simply craved less food than they normal would.
But there have been concerns about the effect that this sort of diet might have on the human heart. New research not only answers these fears but even shows potential cardiac benefits connected high protein diets.
Protein and Blood Pressure
Using 11 years worth of information from the Framingham Offspring Study, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine looked at the effects of protein intake on blood pressure. The researchers concluded that people who stuck to high protein diets had statistically lower blood pressures now, as well as a lower risks in the long-term.
It’s also interesting to note that the study found that these positive effects were increased when a high protein intake was combined with a high fiber diet.
Okay, so high protein diets have the potential to treat and prevent high blood pressure. But what exactly is a “high” protein intake and does it matter where the protein comes from?
Picking Your Sources
One of the primary reasons for the concerns regarding high protein diets and cardiovascular health is that many protein sources are also high in fat. Especially in the case of red meats, these fats are of the saturated nature. While saturated fats aren’t as bad as they’ve been made out to be, they should still be kept in moderation. For this reason, stick to lean protein sources – those that have low levels of unhealthy fats or high levels of healthy fats. Salmon and chicken as good examples of lean protein sources that also include healthy fat.
The study also found that the blood pressure related benefits of high protein diets occurred regardless of whether the protein came from plant or animal sources. When combined with the conclusion that high fiber intake increases these benefits, it makes sense to try to make are much of our protein come from plants are possible.
So how much is enough, then? While the exact definition of “high protein intake” has been heavily debated for a while now, the study saw these benefits in people who ate an average of 100g of protein every day.
Combined with the other emergent research on high protein diets, the evidence is mounting that this is an extremely beneficial way for everyone – especially athletes – to eat.