Is a Low Protein Vegan Type Diet Right for You?

What are the downsides of this eating style? 

The main downfall of this type of low protein diet is that protein intake will be limited to only about 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Current research and USDA recommendations suggest getting at least 0.8 g/kg of protein per day. In addition the diet would have a lack of vitamin D, Calcium, iron, and B12. Low levels of vitamin D and calcium are directly related to osteoporosis. In addition, vitamin D is linked to increased risk of depression. Iron which is found in both plants and animals is more readily absorbed into the body through animal sources. So those on a plant-based diet would need to include iron rich foods and consume them with a source of vitamin C to more readily absorb the iron. Lastly, B12 which is only found in animal sources and fortified foods, such as cereal, would potentially need to be supplemented as well.

Protein probably gets the most hype out of the three macronutrients. So it may be confusing for people to hear that a *low* protein diet is the healthiest option for longevity. Is eating low-protein healthy? Why or why not?  

Eat low protein can be healthy when done the right way and under the right circumstances. Someone who does a lot of weight lifting, or strenuous activities outside such as a farmer, a construction worker or other manual labor type jobs may notice a decrease in energy or ability to perform on such a low protein diet. The best diet for anyone out there is a diet in which is sustainable for him or her. It is quite challenging to adhere to one of these diets if you love to consume meat products and are unwilling to give them up on this level. If losing animal food sources in your diet decreases your happiness, changes your lifestyle to a point you become obsessed with food changing your diet to a low protein diet for longevity would not be the best fit for you.

How might a person decide if a low or high protein diet is right for them? What factors should they consider?

Factors to consider before changing to this diet:

-Do you want to get rid of meat and animal products? Is this something you can actually take out of your diet and be happy? If this makes you cringe or think “I would have to do a lot of work to make this happen,” it is most likely not sustainable and would not help in the long run. This type of diet would just become a FAD diet for you and potentially cause you to ultimately gain more weight

-Are you willing to consume foods high in vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and B12 to supplement enough in your diet? Not getting enough of these vitamins and minerals can lead to other health issues so this would need to be supplemented.

-Are you willing to take supplements if needed?

-How much are you physically active? The mor active you are in the gym and at work the more protein you might possibly need. For instance a typical recommendation is 0.8 grams/kg of body weight of protein per day. However a body builder, manual labor worker, or other extremely active people would need up to 1.5-2.0 grams/kg of body weight of protein. Not consuming enough protein could be more harmful than helpful for these types of people.

-Do you have a family history of diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease? If you do have a strong family history then a diet like this could be beneficial. However, to make sure you are meeting all of your nutrition needs, working with a nutrition professional such as a Registered Dietitian would be the best thing to do as you change your diet.

Is there anything else you think people should know before trying this diet for health purposes? 

The biggest overall question you need to ask yourself before starting this diet is “Why”? Why am I starting this diet? Are you using it as a FAD just to lose weight, or is this something that you actually want to take on for life? Are you willing to work with a nutrition professional to make sure you are meeting your needs properly? Are you willing to accept the changes this will lead to in your life?

Changing your diet from higher protein to low protein, no animal products, and increased fruits and vegetables can be very challenging and should not be taken lightly as a way to lose weight rapidly. Someone attempting to start these types of diet should seek nutrition advise and counseling to ensure this is the best decision for his or her lifestyle.

Also catch this article from Myfitnesspal where I was featured as a dietitian for another point of view ....

Also here is a YouTube video on protein

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