Monday, 17 October 2011

Protein pitfalls

I pretty much avoid junk food, but I’m not averse to some mental junk food … whether it’s in the form of an episode of TOWIE or a copy of heat magazine. Quite frankly city life can be all a bit serious, so I think we all need a bit of escapism, and if you can turn to a gossip mag for a bit of relief rather than a packet of hobnobs, then that can only be a good thing.

I generally don’t buy Heat or Grazia … my friends frequently pass them on to me … so apologies for being behind the times on the Z list news, but the copy of heat I happened to get my hands on had a couple of high protein celeb diets that I wanted to comment on.

The first was Jodie Marsh’s extreme high protein regime, that she followed to become a bodybuilder. This was based on 7 protein shakes a day, rather than eating “normal food”. When not training she was allowed berries, rice cakes, egg whites, apples and brown rice … all healthy in themselves but clearly not a healthy balanced diet. It’s true to get the extreme results she did you need to follow a high protein diet, but cutting out whole good groups such as fat and carbohydrates is not healthy, and not eating “normal food’ can lead to a difficult relationship with food and eating in the future.

Next up was “Cheryl’s drastic red-carpet diet”, whilst typically vague on details, the crux of it seems to be living off protein shakes and fruit and veg juices for two weeks whilst using diet soft drinks and smoking to keep hunger at bay … again high protein and low in everything else, although at least the juices would be bringing in some much needed antioxidant vitamins.

High protein regimes are pretty popular amongst celebs who want to shed some weight for a red carpet event, and as I’ve blogged previously I think a higher protein regime is better than a calorie restrictive one for a short term effect. However following this kind of regime repeatedly in the long run can have some serious health consequences, taxing the kidneys and adrenal glands and acidifying the body leading to thinner and weaker bones and eventually possible osteoporosis. Yoyo dieting also taxes the heart and can lead to future weight loss resistance so in the long-run can be counterproductive.

I’m not actually against moderate use of protein shakes – I think they can be a useful supplement to the diet, particular for people undertaking a lot of exercise, but alot of them are packed with artificial additives and sweeteners that your body really can do without. Instead I always suggest more natural whey supplements such as Reflex Natural Whey
y and Solgar Whey To Go Protein

For anyone embarking on a high protein diet I’d recommend keeping the saturated fats low (no egg yolks, no cheese, only low-fat cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products) whilst upping the healthy fats – eat fish and snack on nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. In addition include lots of non-starchy fruit and vegetables, cutting out root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc.), tropical fruit (bananas, mango, pineapple), grains and pulses. This is still pretty tricky to follow and not recommended for a long period of time or for anyone undertaking a lot of physical exercise, as it cuts out a large food group of starchy carbohydrates, but for a short-term diet it’s much healthier, and more sustainable, than living on a diet of protein shakes and cigarettes.

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