You may have heard the buzz about a recent study from the University of Southern California, published March 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism, suggesting that a diet high in animal protein may be bad for you.
If you are following the South Beach Diet eating program, you don’t need to worry, because we have always taken a balanced approach to this important nutrient.
Getting adequate protein from a wide range of sources, including lean meat, poultry, and seafood, fat-free or reduced fat cheese and dairy, and eggs, along with plant protein from nuts and nut butters, seeds, and beans and other legumes, is essential for good health as part of a balanced diet that also includes good carbohydrates and good fats.
Not only is protein an important component of every cell in your body, it is also essential for promoting weight loss. Protein keeps you feeling satisfied as part of your meals and snacks, and it also helps build muscle mass, which increases metabolism (and calorie-burning). Your body also needs protein to build and repair tissues, bones, and cartilage, and to make enzymes and hormones. It’s also an important component of red blood cells.
I firmly believe that it is the quality of the protein you eat that matters.
On the South Beach Diet we have always advised against eating protein from animal sources that is high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of beef and full-fat cheese and dairy. There is no question that overconsumption of saturated fat can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues. However, if you follow a wholesome diet, such as the South Beach Diet, which includes a wide range of high-quality protein sources, you will be promoting good health.
While this new study is interesting, it is too small to be conclusive and the study authors themselves suggest that more research in humans is needed. In the meantime, if you want to prevent cancer and other diseases, don’t smoke, get regular exercise, drink less alcohol, and follow our balanced eating program to reach and maintain a healthy weight.