Answering fad diet questions: High protein/low carb diets.

Jennifer Rackley Health Pro
  • Will a high protein/low carb diet like Atkins be good for my Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

    A high protein and low carb diet has been pretty popular lately, especially with people who are trying to find a way to loose weight quickly.  Most people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease do not fall into that category as they tend to have a hard time maintaining weight because of their disease's symptoms.  That having been said, protein is very important in the diet and especially when you are trying to fight illness and maintain muscle strength.

    The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8g per kg of body weight.  This number is pretty high to cover the majority of American's daily needs.  What this means is that someone who weighs 150 pounds (or approximately  68kg)  will need  about 55g of protein per day.  Of course, this is also dependant on total calories required as well so if you are trying to loose or gain weight the number will change accordingly.  

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    If you are trying to compensate for muscular wasting or fighting chronic flares your doctor main recommend a higher amount of protein, perhaps up to 1g per kilogram of body weight.  That would change the 150 pound person's total to 68g of protein instead of 55g per day.  That is a pretty significant difference in dietary intake.

    This may leave you wondering whether that means that a high protein diet is good for you or whether it is not.  The truth is that while protein, in the form of lean meats and other low fat sources, is essential in the diet it is not the only nutrient your body needs to function well.   You can't live on protein alone!  In fact, your brain prefers carbohydrates as its main source of fuel so eliminating them completely can cause problems.

    People with inflammatory bowel disease are at an increased risk for developing nutritional deficiencies due to appetite, palatability and absorption issues.  To eliminate foods like whole grains, fruits and other carbohydrates will drastically limit the ability to ingest all of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that are essential to proper GI functioning.

    The best diet for IBD is one that provides enough protein AND enough of all of the other nutrients the body needs to function.  Any diets that tells you to eliminate or drastically reduce an entire food group from the RDA is generally not a safe one to follow.  Feed your body the fuel it needs to function and you will find that it can make a huge difference in how you feel!

Published On: March 07, 2009