High protein diets: are they efficient and safe in the long term?

Very fashionable today, hyperprotein diets (low in carbohydrates and usually high in fat) are widely used by many Nutrition specialists, and also by many people who follow them without professional supervision, for weight loss purposes.

By definition, A high protein diet is one in which protein intake exceeds the established daily recommendations. It is currently accepted that the consumption of 0.8 g/kg/day of protein is sufficient to cover the nutritional requirements of a healthy adult who does not follow a demanding training plan.

Although people who follow them usually see greater effects in the short term, there is no conclusive evidence that they are more effective than other types of diets and that weight loss is better sustained in the long term.; Some studies even postulate adverse health effects, but this may be closely related to the health status of the individuals.

According to different studies, this type of diet high in proteins and fats, and low in carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and fiber, can cause alterations in the hydroelectrolyte and acid-base metabolism, in the bone metabolism (due to the high acid load of the foods proteins), in kidney function (in people with previous kidney problems) and in endocrine function. And on the other hand, take into account the origin of the proteins, since high consumption of red meat is associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and a higher risk of developing colon, esophageal and stomach cancer. .

In relation to its use in slimming treatments, it is worth making certain clarifications. According to the WHO: “Diets rich in carbohydrates play a central role in the control of overweight and obesity”. The second clarification comes from the last United States Dietary Guidelines: “There is strong and consistent evidence that when caloric intake is controlled, the proportion of macronutrients in the diet is not related to the loss of weight”. And theThe latter come from the consensus of the FESNAD-SEEDO (Spanish Federation of Nutrition, Food and Dietetics Societies – Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity): “In the treatment of obesity, it is not recommended to induce changes in the proportion of dietary proteins (grade of recommendation A)”and “Diets with a higher content of complex carbohydrates (approximately ≥50% of total energy intake) are associated with lower body mass indexes in healthy adults.””.

An aspect that has not been taken into account in previous yearsbut which has gained relevance in recent times, is the composition of the weight lost. High protein diets seem to be more efficient in this regardsince they cause less loss of lean mass when diets with energy deficit are carried out.

In conclusion, this type of diet is not recommended for people with kidney and liver diseases and high uric acid levels, and rigorous professional control is necessary for its use in overweight or obese people for weight loss purposes. The key aspects of any weight loss diet are generating an energy deficit (negative energy balance) and that subjects demonstrate high adherence to the eating plan.


Ailén Dietrich.
Bachelor of Nutrition

Adrian Barale.
Prof. in Physical Education
Bachelor of Nutrition
Sports Nutrition Section Editor
Academic coordinator and teacher of the Sports Nutrition Distance Course


“Hyperprotein diets:..” by Dietrich A. & Barale A. is located under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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