Dr Dale Peterson, low carbohydrate, high protein, diet, Atkins

Ask the Doc: What Do You Think of High Protein Diets?

Ask the Doc: What Do You Think of High Protein Diets?

© 1999 Dr. Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

I know several people who are eating diets high in protein, mostly in the form of meat, fish and poultry. They are avoiding bread and limiting their intake of fruits and vegetables and say that the amount of fat they eat doesn’t matter. I went to a meeting this week where one of the speakers promoted this saying that it is the best way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and improve one’s health. Do you agree? A. S.

In a word, no. The high protein, low carbohydrate diet is based upon the principle that certain foods cause a much greater rise in blood sugar and insulin levels than others. This is true. Since one of insulin’s roles is to encourage the body to store fat, foods that cause a jump in insulin tend to promote weight gain. Foods that do not stimulate insulin release tend to encourage weight loss.

While the theory upon which the high protein, low carbohydrate diets is based is sound, the practice is not. History has proven that diets high in animal protein and animal fat result in the highest rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases. People consuming these foods also have the shortest life expectancies.

It is possible to accomplish the goal of the high animal protein, low carbohydrate diet without exposing oneself to the damaging long term effects. Rather than relying on the “high protein, low carbohydrate” oversimplification obtain a book that lists the effect of foods on blood sugar and insulin levels. This is called the “glycemic index”. Stick to foods in the “acceptable” or “low glycemic” range, but incorporate the fruits, vegetables and grains which fall into this category. Avoid refined sugars and starches. Limit the animal fat and moderate the animal protein. This should allow you to achieve short term goals such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction while preserving your long term health.  -Dr. Peterson


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