New diets are hyped all the time. High-protein diets, like keto and Atkins, aren’t new, but people have really taken to them over the last few years. Celebrities have reported excellent results from the diets, influencers have made entire brands off the trend and sharing recipes. We are fans of any lifestyle that helps people live healthy, active lifestyles. Hitting your goal weight can be hugely fulfilling. We would never want to disparage things that work for you. However, doctors believe that high-protein diets may pose heart health risks.
High-protein diets can help people lose weight. But, new studies using mice showed that they may also lead to blocked and ruptured arteries because of plaque buildup. In the study, mice were either given a high-fat, high-protein diet or one that was high-fat, normal-protein. The two groups got 46 percent or 15 percent of their calories from protein, respectively. The mice who ate the usual amount of protein gain weight, the ones who were on the high-protein plan lost weight but saw more heart issues. The mice were fed large amounts of protein powder intended for shakes, like the powder in the banner.
“There are clear weight loss benefits to high protein diets, which has boosted their popularity in recent years,” says Dr. Babak Razani, an associate professor of medicine from Washington Univ. School of Medicine, who led the research. “But, animal studies and some large epidemiological studies in people have linked high dietary protein to cardiovascular problems.”
A different study found that a high-protein diet doesn’t prevent muscle loss. Moreover, that research linked the excessive amount of protein could put people at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Long term studies have seen that those who followed paleo had higher levels of TMAO, which has been linked to heart disease.
This research comes on the heels of a study that showed keto could be damaging to the kidneys — especially for people who are obese. This research saw that the mice who ate a lot of protein also had a lot of dead macrophages, the immune cell that clears plaque from the arteries. The researchers went so far as to call the plaque they removed to study “macrophage graveyards.”
A different study found that foods high in sulfur amino acids — found in protein-rich foods — were linked to heightened cardiometabolic risks. While the body needs the acids, excessive amounts may pose a danger. Fruits, vegetables and grain do not have the amino acids. “For decades, it has been understood that diets restricting sulfur amino acids were beneficial for longevity in animals,” said Prof. John Richie of Penn State, who was a co-author of the study. “This study provides the first epidemiologic evidence that excessive dietary intake of sulfur amino acids may be related to chronic disease outcomes in humans.”
As always, what works for one person doesn’t for another. Each person has their own medical needs and concerns. When considering or making any changes to your diet or health routine, please speak to your doctor for their advice on what would be healthy for you.