A diet with more protein and fewer carbohydrates will also reduce your body's need to produce insulin. Some experts believe this will help you lose weight, and it is certainly important for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
If you don't get enough of your daily calories from carbohydrates, your body will use protein as a fuel. This is the basis for ketogenic diets, like the Atkins diet. "Ketogenic" refers to the ketones that your body makes when protein is used as a fuel. Proponents of these high protein, low-carbohydrate diets claim that this type of dieting is a safe and healthy way to lose weight, control cholesterol, and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Opponents of the ketogenic diets point to possible kidney problems, liver problems, calcium loss, lack of fiber, and dehydration as potential problems for followers of these diets.
Healthy ChoicesMaking healthy protein choices is more about the fats that accompany the proteins and the preparation methods than it is about the actual protein. This means you should look for protein sources that are lower in saturated fats, higher in healthier unsaturated fats, and prepared in healthy ways. A fish fillet baked with lemon and almonds is an example of a healthy protein choice. Baking a chicken breast and topping it with salsa would also be another healthy example. A porterhouse steak is full of protein and tastes delicious, but it is not as healthy as poultry or fish due to all of the saturated fats normally found in red meat.
For most people, it is a good idea to limit red meat consumption to only a couple of meals each week. Processed meats, like lunch meats are poor sources of protein too, because the fats and ingredients used to make them have been linked to cancer, and some people also worry about hotdogs and brain tumors.
Of course, fish and chicken may not always be healthy. Fried fish sticks or fried chicken are not good protein choices because this type of cooking adds unhealthy fats and extra calories. Breaded and fried meats should be only be eaten rarely.
Meats may be cooked on a grill. This method of cooking can be healthy as long as you take care not to char the meat. Use indirect heat and choose cuts of meat lower in fat to prevent charring.
Other healthy protein sources include legumes, nuts, and seeds. Vegetables and grains also contain some protein. These plant sources contain polyunsaturated fats, some of which are beneficial to your health. You will learn more about the different types of fats in the next two lessons.