We all know how important protein is for the body. The amino acids in protein are the "building blocks" by which the cells of our nails, hair, muscles, among others, are formed. Generally, the 8 essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, theonine, tryptophan, and valine) we ingest from plant and animal sources stay in our bodies unless we get sick or lose them naturally in our hair and nails. Together with the other nutrients, vitamins and minerals that our body needs, these 8 are necessary to keep us healthy and well.

Protein should compose 10% to 15 % of our daily diet. For athletes who need protein to build muscle tissue, the protein requirement lies in the vicinity of 0.7 grams per pound of body weight. Their protein intake should not exceed 20% because it will only tax the kidneys without causing any significant changes in muscle gain. Everyone can get their protein from sources like meat, fish, eggs (egg whites), soy, brown rice, lentils, nuts, whey, peas and broccoli.

Unfortunately, the role of protein in the promotion of weight loss has been vastly overrated. Diets that are high in protein have constantly been promoted as the answer to losing the pounds while maintaining muscle mass. While protein is by nature very good, the old saying too much of something can be harmful holds true in this case. And this is the most important piece of advice you'll ever get where high protein diets are concerned: They are only good for the short-term. Beyond that, you're setting yourself up for a barrage of serious health issues that you wouldn't want to subject yourself to.

A high protein diet facilitates fast initial weight loss. Thus, if you're pressed for time and want to lose those excess pounds right away, you can opt for a high protein diet for the short term. Short-term is emphasized because a high-protein diet contradicts healthy eating practices and carries with it the huge possibility of jeopardizing your health. For starters, a high protein diet restricts one's carbohydrate intake which results in lethargy, fatigue and concentration loss. A low carbohydrate in one's diet leads to a host of health problems that include, among others, constipation, diverticulitis and certain cancers. Conversely, it encourages, to the point of overconsumption, protein from red meat, dairy and other full fat foods that lead to increased cholesterol levels and heart diseases. It also causes calcium loss which leads to osteoporosis. Because a high-protein diet releases large amounts of urea, it is highly dangerous to the kidneys. Mood swings and cravings for carbs are just some of the other minor inconveniences of a high protein diet.

With all these realities, a high protein diet is not really a recommended alternative. Rather, a diet wherein all the food groups are represented is far better for weight loss and overall health.

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Author's Bio: 

Kylie is a full-time mother of 3 and a freelance writer for ShakeNutrition.com.