The word “protein” on food packaging attracts people like live bait for largemouth bass. We hunt protein because we know it builds muscle while also helping us lose weight. Protein is an important macronutrient for all kinds of important processes in our body. Proteins for example… maintain our muscle mass with age, keep us from losing muscle at the same time, satisfy hunger longer than the other macronutrients, are more difficult to convert into fat, require the body to process more energy through digestion (known as the “thermal effect of food”) and can help reduce caloric intake by warding off hunger pangs.
But your body doesn’t react in the same way to all proteins. Some proteins are more useful for building muscle than others. And some proteins are unhealthy to eat on a regular basis. Here’s What Some Experts Had To Say About The Most Unhealthy Proteins For Weight Loss.
And for more on protein, check out Ways Eating Protein Can Help You Lose Weight, Dietitians Say.
Processed meats that have been preserved by smoking or salting, curing them, or adding chemical preservatives like bacon, sausage, meat for lunch and hot dogs, are among the worst proteins for good health. “Unfortunately, when this meat is preserved, nitrates are added, creating compounds that can lead to cancer,” says Gretchen San Miguel, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Medi-Weightloss. Processed meat has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
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While protein might not make you think of cheese, the dairy product is actually a good source of the macronutrient. That being said, it may not be the best source of protein for weight loss.
“A lot of people wanted to follow a ketogenic diet and turn to cheese as a low-carb alternative without realizing that cheese (like processed meat) is high in calories, has unhealthy saturated fats, processed oils, and possibly hormonal additives as well,” says Dr. San Miguel. “Consuming too much can lead to high cholesterol, excess calories, and general health effects.”
While cow’s milk and cheese are good sources of protein, they can also be highly inflammatory for most people. “If you are trying to lose weight (especially in your midsection) and you have GI problems all the time, I’d skip dairy,” says ” Heather Hanks, MS, a nutritionist with InstaPot Life. “Inflammation can make it difficult to lose weight.”
“Research has shown that people who consume large amounts of grain-fed red meat are at high risk of heart attack and stroke because of their high saturated fat content,” says Dr. San Miguel.
Grain-fed beef is typically beef cattle, where cattle are fed corn and other grains. Grain-fed beef is lacking in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and has more saturated fats. Dr. San Miguel recommends opting for grass-fed beef or lean meats like pork loin, fish, and chicken breasts. Pasture-raised beef tends to be lower in fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats found in oily fish, and more vitamin E. Grass-fed beef is also a rich source of CLA (conjugated linolenic acid ). which studies in the Journal of the American Heart Association have shown is associated with a lower risk of heart failure.
Fat is a healthy, essential macronutrient, but the type of fat is important, “says David Sautter, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist at Top Fitness Magazine. “When you deep-fry a food (like chicken or fish), you can increase the amount of trans fats you eat; Trans fats have been linked to heart disease and cancel out the benefits you’d normally get from eating protein baked, steamed, or sautéed. “
Protein powders for homemade meal replacements are very popular for controlling calories. “Unfortunately, many protein powders have added ingredients that can actually halt weight loss,” says Trista Best, RD, a registered dieter nutritionist at Balance One Supplements. She notes that milk-based protein powders (whey and casein) may not be beneficial for people with milk allergies or intolerances. She recommends trying pea protein as it doesn’t contain common allergens and isn’t flammable like whey protein can be. Pick a vegan powder made from all 20 amino acids, she says.
Continue reading: What happens to your body when you eat whey protein powder
“Beef jerky, which has sugar as the second ingredient, is on my list of the worst proteins,” says Jay Cowin, NNCP, RNT, RNC, a registered nutritionist and director of formulations at ASYSTEM, who stated that it should not be relied on as a source of protein just because it is a simple take-away meal. Cowin points out that we often quickly turn to packaged foods that are “high in protein” without looking at the ingredients and comparing sugar and sodium levels. Some brands of beef jerky can have as much sugar as desserts and more sodium than a couple of bags of pretzels. See: The Best and Worst Beef Jerky – Rank!