Considering a High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet? Here’s What You Should Know

Experts say that for some people, there are health risks involved with diets that are high in protein and fat. Following are some key issues and recommendations:

Heart disease: Foods high in fat and saturated fat, such has red meat, eggs and bacon (items recommended on high-protein diets), have been shown to increase LDL, the bad cholesterol that can clog arteries and reduce their effectiveness. Fatty foods also may result in heightened triglyceride levels, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks.

Colorectal cancer: The long-term ingestion of red meat, which can be abundant on low-carb diets, has been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The diets also are low in fiber, and fiber has been shown to protect against cancer.

Impaired kidney function: High-protein diets may result in higher levels of uric acid, which can damage the kidney over time. Atkins Nutritionals, the company behind the Atkins diet, recommends that people with severe kidney disease should not be on any phase of the diet unless ordered to do so by their physician.

Osteoporosis: Low-carb diets include few dairy products, a primary source of calcium, Calcium deficiencies have been linked to bone loss. Atkins Nutritionals recommends those on the diet take a supplement of 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Fruits and some vegetables are not part of low-carb diets, so people lose a main source of antioxidant vitamins like beta carotene and Vitamin C. They also can result in Vitamin D and E deficiencies, and well as some minerals. Atkins Nutritionals recommends daily vitamin supplements to cover potential deficiencies.

Sources: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Dr. Carol Johnston, ASU professor of nutrition; Atkins Nutritionals; Dr. George Blackburn, director of the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard.

Source of this article: The Arizona Republic (newspaper). Copyright 2004, All rights reserved.

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