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Low Protein Diet: Benefits, Tips, And More

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A low protein diet is a diet in which a person consumes less protein than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in many bodily functions, such as cell growth and repair, muscle contraction, and the production of enzymes and hormones.

A low protein diet is often used to help people manage their weight or reduce their risk of certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease.

If you’re thinking about trying a low-protein diet, it’s important to talk to your doctor first.

They could help you make sure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients you need and answer any questions you have.

Keep reading to learn more about low protein diets, including their potential benefits and risks.

Health Benefits Of A Low-Protein Diet

A low-protein diet has many health benefits, including weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improved heart health.

  • Weight Loss: A low-protein diet could[1] help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and increasing your metabolism.
  • Reduced Inflammation: A low-protein diet could[2]help reduce inflammation throughout your body, which can lead to reduced pain and improved overall health.
  • Improved Heart Health: A low-protein diet could[3]help improve heart health by reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Potential Side Effects of a Low-Protein Diet

A low-protein diet may[4]have some potential side effects, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Cravings for high-protein foods
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Decreased endurance
  • Increased fat mass
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis

If you are considering a low-protein diet, it is important to speak with your doctor first to make[5]sure it is the right decision for you.

Foods To Eat

If you’re considering starting a low-protein diet, there are a few things you should know.

First, you’ll need to choose foods that are low in protein but still high in other nutrients.

Second, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough protein to meet your body’s needs. And third, you’ll need to be aware of the potential side effects of a low-protein diet.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of food items that are low in protein:

  1. Fruits

    Apples

    Apple is considered to be a low-protein fruit. This is because it is lacking in the amino acid lysine, which is essential for the body to create protein.

    Lysine is found in high levels in meats, so a diet that[6]includes apples as the only source of protein will likely be low in protein.

    They are also rich in fiber, which can aid in controlling digestion. Additionally, apples are a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium.

    Bananas

    Bananas are a good source of energy. When you are on a low-protein diet, you need to find other sources of energy, and bananas could[7]provide that.

    They are also low in fat and calories, which makes them a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight.

    Bananas contain a type of starch called resistant starch, which is not easily broken down by the body.

    Pears

    Pears are commonly included in low-protein diets due to their low protein content.

    A typical pear contains only about 1 gram of protein, making them a good choice for people who are trying to limit their protein intake.

    Pears are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants, and they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.

  2. Vegetables

    Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are considered to be a low-protein food due to their content of non-protein nitrogen.

    Non-protein nitrogen is a compound found in all plants, but tomatoes contain a higher amount than[8]most other plants.

    This compound is not broken down and used by the body for protein synthesis, so it is not considered a protein.

    Asparagus

    Asparagus is considered a low-protein food because it is relatively low in the amino acid methionine.

    Methionine is an essential amino acid that our bodies need to build proteins.

    However, we could[9]only get methionine from our diets, so it is important to eat foods that are high in methionine, such as meat, fish, and eggs.

    Asparagus also contains a fair amount of the amino acid asparagine. Asparagine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that our bodies can synthesize it from other amino acids.

    Broccoli

    There are a few reasons why broccoli is considered a low-protein food. For one, it contains very little protein compared to other foods.

    Additionally, the protein that is found in broccoli is not very easily digested by the body.

    Finally, broccoli is also a source of lectins, which could bind to proteins and make them difficult to absorb.

    Broccoli is also a good source of fiber, which can help with weight loss and digestion. The calorie and fat content of broccoli are also minimal.

  3. Grains

    Rice

    Rice is mostly composed of carbohydrates, with only a small amount of protein.

    It is not a good source of essential amino acids, which[10]are the building blocks of proteins.

    For this reason, rice is often not included in high-protein diets, such as the Atkins Diet.

    Oats

    People who ate oats as part of a low-protein diet had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

    This means that[11]oats could help people feel full for longer and potentially help them lose weight.

    In addition, oats are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and iron.

    This makes them an ideal food for people on a low-protein diet, who might be at risk of deficiencies in these nutrients.

    Bread

    Bread is considered to be a low-protein diet because[12]of its lower protein content as compared to other food items.

    These bread are usually made with whole grains and are high in fiber. They can help you feel full and can even help lower your cholesterol.

    So if you’re looking for a healthy way to add bread to your diet, be sure to choose a whole grain variety.

  4. Healthy Fats

    Avocados
    There are many reasons why avocados are considered a low-protein food.

    For one, they are relatively low in calories, clocking in at about 160 calories per avocado.

    They are also a good source of healthy fats, which could help to keep you full and satisfied.

    Additionally, avocados are relatively low in protein, with about 4 grams per avocado.

    Additionally, avocados contain a good amount of fiber, which could[13]help to promote digestive health.

    They are also a good source of potassium, which is an important electrolyte for the body.

    All of these factors make avocados a good choice for those who are looking to follow a low-protein diet.

    Olive Oil
    There are many reasons why olive oil is considered to be healthy fat.

    For one, it is monounsaturated fat, which means that it could help to lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood.

    Additionally, olive oil is a good source of antioxidants, which could help to protect the body against cell damage.

    Another reason why olive oil is often included in low-protein diets is that it can help to promote satiety.

    This means that[14]it can help you feel fuller for longer, which can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight or manage your hunger levels.

    Additionally, olive oil can also help to regulate blood sugar levels, which can be helpful for people with diabetes.

    Coconut oil
    Coconut oil is thought to be beneficial for a low-protein diet because[15]it contains a type of saturated fat that is not found in other oils.

    This type of fat is called lauric acid, and it is metabolized differently than other types of saturated fat.

    Lauric acid is thought to be easier for the body to break down and use for energy, which makes it a good choice for people on a low-protein diet.

Foods To Avoid

A low-protein diet is often recommended for people with kidney problems, as it could[16]help to reduce the strain on the kidneys.

However, not all foods are created equal when it comes to protein content. Here is a list of foods to avoid if you are following a low-protein diet:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Soy products

Tips On How to Start Low-Protein Diet

If you are considering starting a low-protein diet, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, it is important to consult with a doctor or dietitian to make sure that this type of diet is right for you.

Once you have made the decision to start a low-protein diet, there are a few tips that could help you to be successful.

  • Plan your meals in advance. This will help you to make sure that you are getting enough nutrients and staying within your protein limits.
  • Make sure to consume a lot of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. These foods are low in protein but high in other nutrients that[17]are important for your health.
  • Select lean protein sources including tofu, fish, and chicken. These foods are lower in fat and calories than other protein sources.

Final Remark

A low protein diet has many benefits for people with kidney problems, diabetes, and certain genetic disorders. People who desire to lose weight can also benefit from it.

A low-protein diet can be hard to follow, but it is worth it for the health benefits.

However, it is important to consult with a doctor before beginning any new diet, as a low protein diet may not be appropriate for everyone.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Yingga Wu,Baoguo Li,Li Li,et al. Very-low-protein diets lead to reduced food intake and weight loss, linked to inhibition of hypothalamic mTOR signaling, in mice Cell Metab. 2021 May 4;33(5):888-904.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2021.01.017. Epub 2021 Mar 4. Available from:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33667386/
  2. Liselot Koelman,Mariya Markova,Nicole Seebeck,et al. Effects of High and Low Protein Diets on Inflammatory Profiles in People with Morbid Obesity: A 3-Week Intervention Study Nutrients. 2020 Dec; 12(12): 3636.Published online 2020 Nov 26. doi: 10.3390/nu12123636
  3. Bruna Carvalho Fontes,Juliana Saraiva dos Anjos,Ana Paula Black,et al. Effects of Low-Protein Diet on lipid and anthropometric profiles of patients with chronic kidney disease on conservative management J Bras Nefrol. 2018 Jul-Sep; 40(3): 225–232.Published online 2018 Jun 25. doi: 10.1590/2175-8239-JBN-3842
  4. Emily L. Guo and Rajani Katta Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 1–10.Published online 2017 Jan 31. doi: 10.5826/dpc.0701a01
  5. Adel Pezeshki,Rizaldy C. Zapata,Arashdeep Singh,et al. Low protein diets produce divergent effects on energy balance Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 25145.Published online 2016 Apr 28. doi: 10.1038/srep25145
  6. Apples Available from:https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/apples/
  7. David C. Nieman,Nicholas D. Gillitt,Dru A. Henson,et al. Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach PLoS One. 2012; 7(5): e37479.Published online 2012 May 17. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037479
  8. Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average Available from:https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170457/nutrients
  9. Eirini Pegiou,Roland Mumm,Parag Acharya,et al. Green and White Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): A Source of Developmental, Chemical and Urinary Intrigue Metabolites. 2020 Jan; 10(1): 17.Published online 2019 Dec 25. doi: 10.3390/metabo10010017
  10. Shaw Watanabe,and Ken’ichi Ohtsubo Low-Protein Diet: History and Use of Processed Low-Protein Rice for the Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease Foods. 2021 Oct; 10(10): 2255.Published online 2021 Sep 23. doi: 10.3390/foods10102255
  11. Prasad Rasane, Alok Jha,Latha Sabikhi,et al. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Feb; 52(2): 662–675.Published online 2013 Jun 25. doi: 10.1007/s13197-013-1072-1
  12. Maria João Pena, Manuela Ferreira Almeida, Esther van Dam,et al. Special low protein foods for phenylketonuria: availability in Europe and an examination of their nutritional profile Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2015; 10: 162.Published online 2015 Dec 22. doi: 10.1186/s13023-015-0378-7
  13. Mark L. Dreher and Adrienne J. Davenport Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May; 53(7): 738–750.Published online 2013 May 2. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.556759
  14. Howard E. LeWine Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy? November 1, 2021 Available from:https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/is-extra-virgin-olive-oil-extra-healthy
  15. Kay-Tee Khaw,Stephen J Sharp,Leila Finikarides,et al. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women BMJ Open. 2018; 8(3): e020167.Published online 2018 Mar 6. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020167
  16. Gang Jee Ko,Yoshitsugu Obi,Amanda R.Tortoricci,et al. Dietary Protein Intake and Chronic Kidney Disease Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Jan; 20(1): 77–85.doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000342
  17. Daniela Verzola,Daniela Picciotto,Michela Saio,et al. Low Protein Diets and Plant-Based Low Protein Diets: Do They Meet Protein Requirements of Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease? Nutrients. 2021 Jan; 13(1): 83.Published online 2020 Dec 29. doi: 10.3390/nu13010083

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