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Protein vs. Carbs – What’s Right For You?

We all have different protein and carbohydrate needs, depending on the individual. Protein needs increase for growing children, nursing mothers, severally injured or seriously ill people, and athletes. Athletes, in particular, pay special attention to their protein intake and often supplement with protein powders. In fact, the typical diet consumed in industrialized countries already contains more than enough protein to cover the needs of most athletes and any additional protein above the body’s needs is either used for energy or converted to body fat.

What’s Typical? Nutritionists say that a typical diet generally contains between 10-20% of calories as protein. What athletes and others expending great amounts of physical energy need are additional calories, (in the proper balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, not just protein).

High Protein, Low Carbs. In the past few years, there has been a movement towards high protein diets and a move away from starchy carbohydrates. The option on low-carbohydrate diets is to increase fat and/or protein in the diet to make up for a low-carbohydrate intake.

Something to consider is that high protein, high fat diets sometimes limit sources of carbohydrates that provide essential vitamins, minerals and other protective factors against serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. And, at very low levels of carbohydrate intake, the body sometimes produces ketones, which is a potentially dangerous condition.

Beside the dangers of a low carbohydrate intake, a high protein intake produces waste products containing nitrogen that require a lot of water to flush out of the body. Excess protein taxes the liver and kidneys, but actually does very little to increase muscle mass because the excess that is not used for energy is generally converted to fat.

The fact of the matter is that the body needs all of the nutrients that supply energy:

· Carbohydrates

· Fats

· Proteins

Each of these categories has a unique purpose and is essential in the correct amounts, and hard on the body in the wrong amounts. Too much of any of these nutrients can lead to an increase in body fat.

Moderation, as with everything in the world of nutrition, is always the best way to proceed in all of your meals, hands down.

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