|DIETARY protein requirements have been a hotly contested
issue throughout the brief history of modern nutritional science. Scientific
evidence indicates adults require no more than 10-15% of their daily caloric
intake from protein. But, popular diet books like Enter The Zone, Protein Power and
Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution persist in
keeping the high-protein myth alive, recommending intake levels at 30% and
Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide, takes a completely different approach in determining protein requirements.
"Human breast milk contains approximately 10% of calories from protein," points out Brown. "This supplies all the protein needs during infancy, the time of a human's life when protein needs are the highest. On a diet of 10% protein, an infant will double its weight in 6 months and triple its weight in a year. How can an adult who is not building new tissue at the same rate possibly need a higher percentage of protein than this?"
|Brown says human milk, with
less than one half the protein of cow's milk, contains the lowest
percentage of calories from protein of all mammals. "The amount of protein
in each species of mammal milk is matched to the normal growth rate of
that species' offspring," says Brown. "Human infants grow much slower than
Commenting on high-protein weight-loss diets, Brown says, "For weight-loss purposes, it's true that if you consume your usual maintenance amount of protein on a diet that is below your normal maintenance caloric intake level, this automatically increases the percentage of calories from
protein in your diet. Yet, this still works out to a much lower percentage of calories from protein compared to the often recommended 30% or more on an unbalanced high-protein diet."
"For example, protein
requirements are usually calculated at .8 grams per kilo of bodyweight. But,
this amount of protein is twice the normal maintenance amount to cover cases where extra protein is required for growth purposes,
such as pregnancy, lactation, etc. A 154-lb (70 kilograms) person on a
well-balanced reduced-calorie diet of 1500 calories a day, who is not growing
extra tissue and has no need for additional protein beyond maintenance purposes,
requires only .4 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight (28 grams). At 4
calories per gram of protein, this works out to 112 calories from protein or
about 7% of overall calories from protein on a 1500-calorie diet."
When you replace a normal balance of foods with protein, you cut back your overall energy intake. This makes it easier for people to lose weight. In addition, excess protein can cause a toxic response in your body which, like
nicotine and caffeine, temporarily elevates your metabolism and burns
But, Brown warns there is a high price to pay when relying on high-protein diets. In addition to contributing to liver and kidney problems, he sites a recent National Institutes of Health report which claims excess protein intake increases calcium excretion, causing osteoporosis.
"And the weight comes back when you return to a normally balanced diet," adds Brown. "The temporary weight loss of an unbalanced high-protein diet is not a substitute for weight management skills and proper lifestyle habits."
Brown claims the program he offers at his web site, www.bodyfatguide.com, teaches people how to permanently manage their weight without restricted foods, drugs, supplements or unbalanced diets.