The Guardian reports how despite the fact that for the past two decades, the benefits of high-protein nutritional regimes have been relentlessly marketed to the general public, largely through the booming diet, fitness and protein supplement industries scientific research has suggested it is harmful for one’s health.
The Guardian reports that adding to the mound of evidence, a recently published study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland, who tracked 2,400 middle-aged men over the course of 22 years, reported that a high-protein diet resulted in a 49% greater risk of heart failure. Many large, long-term population studies have also found that people who consume large amounts of protein, especially in the form of red and processed meat, are more likely to be obese or develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.
The Guardian points out that the promotion of protein diets lined corporate pockets – the whey protein supplement industry alone was worth $9.2bn (£6.9bn) in 2015 – scientific research has suggested time and again that it may be harming our health.
The report in fact says that one of the main drivers for increased protein consumption has been the gym culture that took off in the late 1990s, and the accompanying trend for putting on muscle mass. But scientists believe that the idea of requiring additional protein in your diet to build up muscle, either through meat or supplements such as protein shakes, is a myth.
“There are some quite nice trials which now show that giving people extra protein doesn’t actually increase muscle mass,” Sanders says. “What builds up muscle is exercise and load bearing, and the body has ways of conserving its existing protein to do that. If you eat more protein, the body just breaks it down into ammonia and urea and you excrete it.”