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This Month In Diet
  • Extreme Makeover: Pantry Edition
    How can you expect to eat healthy and lose weight if your kitchen is filled with processed, high-calorie, high-sodium junk food? Weight loss starts in the grocery store aisles, and you’ve got to be intentional as you fill your cart with meal ingredients. Read >>
  • Go Mediterranean
    Enjoying food and drink with family and friends and engaging in an active lifestyle are what the Mediterranean “diet” is all about. Known not only as one of the healthiest diets in the world, it’s also one of the tastiest and one the whole family can enjoy. Read >>
  • What’s For Lunch?
    Yes, it may be fun eating with your coworkers, but think of all the money and calories you could save if you just spent a few minutes before bed or in the morning packing a simple lunch. A little extra effort can make a big difference in the size of your bank account and your waist. Read >>
  • The Power of Protein
    Say goodbye to bread, bagels, potatoes, sweets, cereal, rice, pasta, and certain fruits and vegetables and say hello to protein shakes, protein bars, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, and cheese. But does it work? Read >>
Health and Fitness News

The Power of Protein

Is a high-protein diet right for you?

Numerous weight loss plans revolve around this idea: eat more protein and eat less carbs.

Say goodbye to bread, bagels, potatoes, sweets, cereal, rice, pasta, and certain fruits and vegetables and say hello to protein shakes, protein bars, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, and cheese. According to these diet programs, dieters must eat at least a third of their daily calories from protein sources to lose weight.

As you may have heard, these diets do seem to work—at least for a little while. However, nutrition experts and prominent health organizations like the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the National Cholesterol Education Program all urge caution when it comes to high-protein diets.

Why do low-carb/high-protein diets work and what are the possible health risks associated with these diets?

Is the Diet Effective?

Weight loss does happen on a high-protein diet. One reason this type of diet works is because foods high in protein fill you up and decrease your hunger, enabling you to eat less.

Eat more protein and you eat fewer carbs. It’s only natural. Carbohydrates normally provide the fuel your body needs for energy, but when you don’t eat carbs, your body burns its fat stores for energy instead. This process is called ketosis: your metabolism changes from relying on carbs for energy to breaking down fat cells for energy.

As your body adjusts to ketosis, your appetite decreases and you feel the urge to urinate more frequently, helping you lose water weight. These aspects are both beneficial for weight loss, but may come with long-term health consequences.

Too Much Protein?

When your body breaks down protein to be used for energy, it produces ammonia. May not sound like a big deal, but chronic high levels of ammonia in the body may not be safe.

Also, when more protein than usual is consumed, your blood becomes more acidic and your body’s calcium stores are secreted into the blood to help neutralize the increase in acidity. Since you need calcium for strong bones, consistently losing these valuable mineral stores through your urine may lead to kidney stones or osteoporosis.

Another downside to a low-carb/high-protein diet is a lack of complete nutrition. Many dieters who restrict carbs cut out fruits and vegetables—the best source for antioxidants and fiber. A lack of these vital nutrients can lead to disease and various health conditions.

Yet another reason you need to be careful of eating too much protein is that many sources of protein, including meat and dairy, are high in saturated fat. Eating high amounts of this type of fat raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, and certain cancers.

Additionally, the process of ketosis can make you feel nauseated and give you bad breath. Too much protein can even put a strain on your kidneys.

Last but not least, while a high-protein diet has proven successful at weight loss, the loss is usually short-lived. After six months, the diet seems to lose its effectiveness and many dieters have trouble maintaining their weight.

High-Protein the Safe Way

Still want to get into a high-protein diet? Work with your personal trainer and dietitian to develop a diet plan that’s safe for your situation. A high-protein, low-carb diet does lead to weight loss, but keep in mind that it may cause health risks if done for longer than six months. Keep the following in mind if you go high-protein:

  • Lose weight safely and prevent ketosis by eating a minimum of 100 grams of carbohydrates each day.
  • Be wary of cutting out complete food groups. Still include a variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
  • Calories are still an important part of weight loss, so be wise in what kind of protein you eat. Choose lean sources of protein that are still high in nutrients such as lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and soy.

A diet that you can maintain over the long run is your best bet at successful weight loss. Think you can survive on nothing but meat and more meat? You’re in for a rude awakening.

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