High protein intake is associated with increased body weight and total death

Every now and then you hear about some brand new study on the news that has some catchy title like I named this one.  It sounds pretty urgent thinking eating a lot of protein could kill you doesn’t it?  It is simply amazing the amount of poor research that exists and the general population that buys into the ridiculous hype.  Here is a news flash, just because someone says they are an expert on something doesn’t make them right.  Scientist are no different.  If you are reading this article you should be skeptical of every word that is written because at the end of the day this is just another website on the internet.  What we are here to really talk about is the research that was just published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that is touting protein as a silent killer in your diet.

The research titled “High dietary protein intake is associated with an increased body weight and total death risk” will be looked at.

The background of the study

So I want it to be very clear what this study was looking to achieve.  They were looking at protein intake across 7447 adults that followed a Mediterranean Diet.  The background of the study’s aim is below.

Background & aims: High dietary protein diets are widely used to manage overweight and obesity. However, there is a lack of consensus about their long-term efficacy and safety. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the effect of long-term high-protein consumption on body weight changes and death outcomes in subjects at high cardiovascular risk.

So far, this sounds innocent and potentially beneficial right?

The method

So they had these 7447 adults and separated them into Quantiles.  They obtained nearly all of the study information was health and diet questionnaires. They actually measured body weight, height, and weight circumference. They compiled all of this data across the five quantiles and performed statistical analysis the data.

Let’s talk about this method

First off, call me crazy but how accurate is a food questionnaire going to be when you’re trying to determine whether protein kills people?  I track what I eat almost daily and the days I don’t I realize I’m off on what I think I ate sometimes by 800 calories.  The fact that they are trying to perform a nutritional research study to prove protein can have detrimental effects on your health and they are basing this off of questionnaires is almost criminal.  The only real data they did have was what they collected every year the study participants came in to get interviewed.

What they found

Let’s look at how they formatted the quantiles in the table.  In the image below I am showing how each groups protein intake goes up.  So quantile 5 had the most protein intake with an average of 96.6 grams of protein per day.

protein quantile
Each quantile protein intake is displayed and goes up as the quantile number progresses

 

ratio of females in quantile
Something you will also note is as the protein intake goes up, so does the ratio of females

 

education table
The education goes down (college at least)

 

Diabetes and medication goes up
Diabetes and medication goes up

 

cvd family history

physical activity
Oh yea and the family history of cardio vascular disease goes up along with lack of physical exercise

So what did they conclude?  Higher total protein intake, expressed as percentage of energy, was significantly associated with a greater risk of weight gain when protein replaced carbohydrates (HR: 1.90; 95%CI: 1.05, 3.46) but not when replaced fat (HR: 1.69; 95%CI: 0.94, 3.03) and a higher consumption of animal protein was associated with an increased risk of fatal and non-fatal outcomes when protein substituted carbohydrates or fat.

So I’d like to point out that while they said they performed statistical analysis on the data to find this correlation, there is no statistical models to reference.  It was also referenced these models were developed to specifically look at a correlation between protein intake and disease.

Conclusion

I want you to take a good hard look at this study and conclude that protein is as dangerous as they say.  One could easily look at this data and conclude that the lack of education is correlated to greater risk of death simply because the number rises along with the numbers of disease.  The diabetic, blood pressure medication, and lack of physical activity among those quantiles with higher protein intake is also very significant because all of those things can have significant implications on your health.  Stop believing everything you hear on TV and see on Facebook and start doing your own research so you don’t go down the path of following poor advice like this study would provide you.

Here is the study design

Here is the study results

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