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Protein mania: the rich world’s new diet obsession

Why we obsess about protein

We can only understand the intensity of our protein obsession as a part of a broader set of dietary battles.

  • A 1950s study, based on Mediterranean populations, showed that a healthy diet consists of lots of carbohydrates with limited quantities of saturated fat.
  • But the modern supermarket interpreted the low-fat diet as high-sugar and high-refined-carbohydrates, which led to our current epidemic of diet-related ill-health.
  • Protein is the one safe thing the population feel they can still put their faith in.

The tendency to think about what we consume in terms of nutrients, rather than real whole ingredients, means making the same old mistakes about nutrition in a new way.

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A high-protein diet is essential for us to help our body grow and repair. We have been told to eat approximately 55 gm of protein daily for males, and 45 gm for females, based on average weights.

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Health Fad

The protein supplement market had a valuation of USD 12.4 billion in 2016.

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Documented uses of the keto diet

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The Ketogenesis process

It supplies energy under circumstances such as fasting or caloric restriction to certain organs (e.g. the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle).

In ketogenesis, our livers start to break down fat into a usable energy source called ketones. Ketones can stand in for glucose as fuel for the body when there’s a glucose shortage. 

Once ketogenesis kicks in and ketone levels are elevated, the body is in a state called “ketosis,” during which it’s burning stored fat. 

The Keto diet
It is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. People on a ketogenic diet get 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and 80 percent from fat. It’s this ratio that will force the body to derive much of its energy from ketones. 

That means eating mainly meats, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables while avoiding sugar, bread and other grains, beans, and even fruit.

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A ketogenic diet...

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Ketosis discovery

Keto was developed as a clinical tool.

In 1911, doctors noticed that children with epilepsy stopped having seizures after 2 days of absolute fasting, when their bodies would have been forced into ketosis. 

Scientists later noted that ketosis could be achieved through a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet without the risk of infection and mortality rates associated with absolute fasting

Keto popularity

Most newcomers are drawn to keto for its potential weight loss benefits, and, while it remains a topic of debate among nutritional scientists, its proponents typically gloss over the unknowns.

The real driving force behind keto’s popularity is our myopic focus on weight as the sole determinant of health.