Protein Myths

Myth #1

Diets high in protein are bad for your bones.

A lot of sources make the claim that a high protein diet are bad for your bones, as they lead to calcium loss.  This is often based on nothing more than a personal assumption.  Looking at the scientific data, we see a different picture painted.  A massive study published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research displayed that the elderly who consumed the most animal protein, maintained the the most bone tissue.  Those who consumed very little animal protein had the highest levels of bone loss in the study.  This applied for both men and women.  Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that 50 and up women who had the highest levels of protein intake were the least likely to suffer from hip and other bone fractures. 

While particular studies have shown the opposite to be true, the most often cited study seemingly demonstrating bone loss with increased protein intake was later critiqued by its own researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

They concluded that “…there is certainly no evidence that primitive humans had low intakes of either total protein or animal protein. That, coupled with the generally very robust skeletons of our hominid forbears, makes it difficult to sustain a case, either evidential or deductive, for overall skeletal harm related either to protein intake or to animal protein. Indeed, the balance of the evidence seems to indicate the opposite.”

Myth #2

High protein diets raise the risk of heart disease.

A study looking at the correlation between red meat consumption and heart disease indicated that,

Substantial evidence from recent studies shows that lean red meat trimmed of visible fat does not raise total blood cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels.” And also that “lean red meat is low in saturated fat, and if consumed in a diet low in SFA (saturated fatty acids), is associated with reductions in LDL-cholesterol in both healthy and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) subjects.”

People may falsely believe that red meat, and other sources of protein, lead to a high risk for heart disease.  While this CAN be true, if a person is eating lots of fatty animal protein and high-fat dairy, it is certainly not true for ALL protein.  Making sensible choices when choosing your protein is key to avoiding heart problems.

Myth #3

High protein deits are bad for your kidneys.

Many times, news outlets will report that “high levels of proten are harmful to the kidneys, due to the extra stress it requires to be processed.”  Based upon current research, this is not the case whatsoever.  One such study aimed to determine the effects of protein consumption on renal function, with an emphasis on renal disease. 

Their report concluded, “Although excessive protein intake remains a health concern in individuals with preexisting renal disease, the literature lacks significant research demonstrating a link between protein intake and the initiation or progression of renal disease in healthy individuals.”

As is often the case, news reports take a snippet of information and turn them into a story.  While high protein diets may be unhealthy for those with already impaired kidneys, there is not a shred of evidence that suggests it is harmful to healthy individuals.  Always try to get your health and fitness information from credible sources, not news reporters trying to make a story out of nothing.


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