Who would have thought that good old-fashioned protein would someday become controversial? A high protein diet has been touted as virtually the ultimate macronutrient of health and fitness. Then along comes a new study that turns this on its head. But the health field, diet and nutrition in particular, is no stranger to controversy.
Low carb diets, which usually translate to high protein diets, have become popular especially for combating fat. The reason for this is simple; they work. While no one thing works the same way for everybody, low carb diets have consistently proven to be effective in aiding fat loss.
High protein, low carb diets include the popular ketogenic diet (often referred to simply as keto). The Atkins diet, which too has been shown to work is also relatively high in protein. I refrain from saying that the Atkins diet is ketogenic as there’s a controversy about that. Some experts say these diets, keto and Atkin’s, are not high protein diets per se. But that is another topic.
According to the study from the University of Eastern Finland, published in journal Circulation, a high protein diet could slightly increase the risk of heart failure especially in men in middle age.
For the study, researchers analyzed dietary information from 2,441 men of between ages 42 and 60 years old at the start of the study for an average period of 22 years.
The researchers found that, overall, the men in the group that ate the most protein had a 33 percent increase in of being diagnosed with heart failure.
However, proteins from fish and eggs were not linked with increased heart failure risk. This may explain why diets such as the Mediterranean diet and Dutch diet, that are relatively high in plant-based protein and fish, are associated with improved cardiovascular health. These diets are also linked to improved brain health.
Interestingly, the study showed the highest heart failure risk in the dairy protein intake group, at 49 percent, than in the animal protein group which was at 43 percent. Plant-based protein risk was significantly lower at 17 percent. These percentages are in comparison to lower protein intake.
I will not change my protein-eating habits based on this study. Some experts asserted that the study is not enough recommend against high protein diets or, conversely, recommending a lower protein diet. The alternative would be to increase carbs and fats. One can choose healthy fats and healthy low glycemic carbs that are known to support a healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, even the researchers expressed that more studies are needed in diverse groups including both genders. The study does not show whether changing the amount of protein in your diet would prevent heart failure.