Shamefully, I admit I fell into the Atkins Diet craze as a teen. The appeal of a high protein high fat diet was too tempting to pass up. What’s that you say? You can lose weight eating full-fat meats, cheeses, other meaty goodies just as long as you didn’t go near bread?? Sounded too good to be true, and it was. After stuffing my face with bacon (which I don’t even like!) for a couple weeks and eating tons of melted cheese on hot dogs, I felt sick to my stomach AND didn’t lose weight. Naive, teenage me only saw the “eat as much meat and cheese as you want” message, but failed to realize that ultimately, calories still matter.
Yup, I’m pretty sure I still have this book catching dust somewhere in my parents’ house.
Anyone else succumb to this craze? What failed diet fads have you tried?
I’ll admit, this diet could help you lose weight in the short term because it’s hard to eat your days worth of calories just in meat. However, it will also destroy your health. This diet is high in saturated fats, leading to high cholesterol, heart disease, and clogged arteries. The diet is also devoid of the good nutrients and fiber that come from fruits and vegetables.
What’s my point with all this? Not all protein are created equal. Reiterating the message of my earlier posts, no food category is all good or all bad.
“What makes a protein good is its nutrient base, how it was raised and farmed, its omega-3 fatty acid value and if it’s high or low in saturated fat.” — Dr. Oz (made famous by Oprah)
Why is protein essential to a balanced diet? Protein helps to build muscle and collagen and assists with tissue repair, that’s why body builders often drink a protein shake after workouts to help with muscle recovery. Also, our body needs 20 different amino acids for healthy functioning. 11 of these are nonessential and can be synthesized by our body. However, 8 of these are considered essential amino acids that we can only get through diet. That’s where protein comes in – protein is the most efficient way to get our fill of these essential amino acids.
Good Protein: lean meats, lean poultry (white meat), wild mercury-free fish, seafood, legumes, eggs.
Bad Protein: high fat meats (ribeye, ground beef, burgers), farmed fish (little omega-3 acids), meats high in nitrates like bacon and processed deli-meat, and dark chicken meat.
Rule of thumb: when possible, avoid all heavily processed animal products and meats that have been injected with hormones.