The benefits of going high-protein are known to most of us – from improving overall health, to boosting bone strength, to increasing lean body mass. However, a high-protein intake may not actually be suitable for everyone, especially after considering certain circumstances.
One of the most common problems associated with going on a high-protein diet is poor gut heath. This is mainly because individuals who consume more animal protein tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables, which means that their fibre intake ends up being reduced. A lack of fibre in the gut leads to a decline in protective gut bacteria, which is responsible for regulating immunity and hunger levels, amongst other things. Concurrently, harmful gut bacteria which feeds on animal proteins proliferates.
With this overgrowth of inflammatory gut bacteria, metabolic toxins which are linked with poor health conditions such as cancer and obesity are released. When the animal proteins reach the GI tract intact, they end up feeding said harmful gut bacteria and harms the protective intestinal wall, which results in a more permeable intestinal wall such that toxins and waste products are able to escape more easily. This eventually leads to inflammation, which triggers an immune response that could result in digestive issues like constipation, irritations of the skin, fatigue, depression and weakened immunity.
To combat this, one should incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, as these foods will help support the growth of anti-inflammatory gut bacteria. Eating more foods that contain starch, such as bananas, oats and potatoes, can also help improve gut bacteria. Alternatively, you can opt for probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, which has been said to contain properties that help protect your body from colon cancer and counter inflammation in the GI tract.
Another issue is one that involves the consequences of a stagnated diet. Sometimes, it’s best to break the mould and shake things up in favour of something fresh and new. Your body’s response to a specific diet is not static – if you’ve been on a high-protein diet for too long, it’s likely that you would have experienced a stall in weight loss, or even weight gain. This is primarily attributed to the fact that while your body will lose fat initially, this will diminish over time as it adapts to your new diet and becomes accustomed to the macronutrient ratio and the amount of calories you consume.
To avoid this from occurring, you can consider taking a periodised approach to your nutrition, in which you embark on a moderate-protein/higher carbohydrate diet while engaging in intense workouts, followed by one which increases protein intake and reduces carbohydrate intake during the recovery period. In the long run, you can also mix things up by adjusting your macronutrient ratios every two weeks or so, and changing your daily calorie intake, as long as the difference falls within the 500 to 700 calorie range.
As the majority of us are probably aware, there is no hard and fast route to improving overall fitness and health. A high-protein diet is not without its flaws and pitfalls, so learning how to adapt and change things up will do you more good than relying on a fixed diet – that’s the real meat of the matter!