What Are the Dangers of High Protein Diets?

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High protein diets have been lauded as a way to quicxkly lose a lot of weight quickly. But there are also dangers in a diet devoid of carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and grains. These nutritional plans also call for a diet revolving around red meat and high-fat dairy products -- not the healthiest of options to enjoy at the dinner table in large quantities. It seems that the adage "everything in moderation" applies to diets high in protein but not much else.

Short-term impact

Shortly after starting a high protein diet, you may experience fatigue associated with a decrease in carbohydrate intake. You may also experience headaches resulting from a limited diet that doesn't provide the body with the mix of nutrients it needs to function optimally. A diet rich in protein can also have cause dehydration, leading to exhaustion and headaches.

Weight Loss

Though you may initially lose a lot of weight on a high protein diet, most of it is actually water weight. In addition, it's tough to maintain a healthier weight when you end a restrictive diet, especially since the foods you are now accustomed to eating are higher in cholesterol and fat. In fact, your cholesterol levels may actually be higher after the diet than they were before you started.

Saturated Fat

Though it is generally recommended that 10% of your total daily nutritional intake come from saturated fat, a high protein diet can have as much as 25% saturated fat. This can contribute to elevated cholesterol levels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Kidney Damage

High protein diets have been linked to kidney dysfunction. A diet in which 35% of calories come from protein sources (the ADA recommends less than 20%) puts a strain on the kidneys due to extra waste matter being released into the urine. The buildup of acidic substances, a process called ketosis, can culminate in a diabetic emergency -- particularly if you have an existing kidney disorder that you may not even know about.

Bone Loss

Researchers have found a link between large quantities of animal protein and osteoporosis. It's believed that diets rich in protein and low in carbohydrates deplete urinary calcium, which can lead to bone fractures. A study at the University of Texas found that during the maintenance phase of the diet, bone loss was more than 55% above the average rate of calcium loss.

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