A High-Protein Diet Is Best For These 4 Types Of People

A High-Protein Diet Is Best For These 4 Types Of People

by | Jun 27, 2018

First, there was the Atkins Diet. Then, there was Paleo. Now, the keto diet is all the rage. Long story short: High-protein diets for weight loss have been trendy for years. Perhaps that’s why more than half of us are striving to add more high protein foods to our plates, according to a survey by NPD Group. We’re sprinkling protein powder into yoghurt, oatmeal, and smoothies and buying snack bars and even pasta with extra grams of the stuff.

But do we really need to be eating so much protein?

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For most of us, the answer is no. David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre, believes the protein craze is for the most part just that—another craze (albeit a long-lasting one), like low-fat in the 1980s and low-carb in the early 2000s.

“All the focus on macronutrients has been a massive boondoggle—we cut fat and got fatter and sicker; we cut carbs and got fatter and sicker,” he says. “We need to stop focusing on macronutrients and instead focus on wholesome foods and healthy combinations and let the nutrients take care of themselves.”

Besides, we already get plenty of protein. The National Dietary Guidelines recommend getting between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories from protein. Just 10 percent—that’s around 46 g of protein per day for women—would be enough to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and prevent deficiencies, and data shows that we tend to get closer to 16 percent.

And yet, a high protein diet is ideal for some.

Dr. Katz admits that certain types of people can benefit from greater protein intake. After all, we all have different bodies with individual nutritional needs, so no single protein guideline will fit all.

The best protein sources, he says, are eggs, fish, poultry, and small amounts of lean, grass-fed meats (a few 100 gram servings a week), along with plant-based proteins like beans, soy, and lentils combined with nuts and seeds or rice and grains. In other words, don’t be tempted to pile on the bacon. Although meat is certainly a high-quality protein—meaning it has the right distribution of amino acids for our body’s needs—it brings along other “passengers” that are harmful, namely saturated fat, high total fat, cholesterol, and, depending how we cook it, possibly carcinogens as well.

Here are the four types of people Dr. Katz says may benefit from higher protein intake, which means getting a bigger proportion of calories from protein—not just piling extra protein onto your regular diet.

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1. Bodybuilders

If you’re doing a lot of resistance training or taxing endurance exercise, you’re tearing down muscle tissue that needs to be repaired and rebuilt. “Protein is a source of essential amino acids that are the building blocks of the body’s own proteins—and we can’t make them; we get them from food or we don’t get them at all,” Dr. Katz explains. “If you’re trying to build muscle cells and you don’t have those amino acids, you don’t build muscle.” He compares it to trying to build a house with enough brick but without shingles, or enough wood but too few bricks. “Construction just doesn’t happen,” he says. “And that’s clearly detrimental.”

2. People who are prone to weight gain

“There’s a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that higher protein, depending on where the protein comes from, may help with low-calorie compliance by providing satiety,” says Tom Rifai, MD, medical director of metabolic health and weight management at the Henry Ford Health System. That’s because protein takes longer to digest, leaving us feeling fuller longer. It also stabilises blood sugar, which has been shown to lower our desire to eat—helpful when trying to shed kilos. “During weight loss, you want more protein—to prevent hunger, enhance satiety, and minimise muscle loss, as long as there’s some degree of physical activity.” Legumes are a particularly great source of protein, as a 2014 study in the journal Obesity found that eating a daily serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils, or peas increases fullness, potentially improving weight management and weight loss.

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3. People with a very sugary, carby, crappy diet

Anyone eating a typical ‘unhealthy’ diet (think: donuts, pasta, and snack packs) can benefit from shifting toward more high-quality protein, like egg whites, fish, and lean meat. “If you’re getting a higher percentage of calories from protein, you’re getting less of the other stuff, like added sugar and carbohydrates,” Dr. Katz says. In other words: “More tuna, fewer doughnuts.” In a randomised trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart), people who replaced some carbohydrate with healthy protein (or healthy fat) saw lower blood pressure and lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol than people on a higher-carbohydrate diet that was otherwise healthy.

4. People in middle age

Getting a little extra protein may be helpful after age 50 to counteract the inevitable muscle loss that comes with aging. “Older adults at risk of sarcopenia, the gradual loss of lean muscle mass, would benefit from more high-quality protein in their diet,” Dr. Katz says. In a 2015 study from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, adults ages 52 to 75 who doubled the Recommended Daily Allowance were better at building muscle—and keeping muscle—after just 4 days. For people in this age group, who may already have high cholesterol or other cardiovascular risk factors, it’s a good idea to grab extra protein not from animal sources such as red meat, dairy products, and eggs, which are high in saturated fats, but from beans, seeds, whole grains, nuts, and fish, which have other beneficial nutrients on top of protein.

This article originally appeared in Prevention.

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?