Diets,  Nutrition,  Weight Loss

High Protein Diet For Weight Loss: Is it safe?

Following a high protein diet brings in many benefits which includes weight loss and muscle building. Learn more about this type of weight loss diet.

High protein diet: how does it help to lose weight?

How high protein diet was formulated?

High protein diets have been with us for many centuries already and has helped many people. People living in the Arctic region where plant is scarce, survived on marine life and caribou. History told us that African warriors lived only on milk and meat, while Native Americans are believed survived with mostly on buffalo with some plants.

High protein diet plans became popular in 1970 with the Scarsdale diet which recommended a diet with 43% protein, 22.5% fats, and 34.5% carbs. Contemporary weight loss diets that support high protein intake include Dukan, Atkins, and South Beach diets.

What is a high protein diet?

A high protein diet promotes eating more protein and less carbohydrates or fats for weight loss goals to improve energy and boost athletic performance. Protein is a basic nutrient for our health. It is accountable for essential functions in the body which include enzymes, hormones, cell repair and maintenance. Hence, it is extremely important part of our diets. They are made up of 20 amino acids and they are all throughout our body including bones, muscles, hair, and skin.

A research claims that a high protein diet may help people lose fats while keeping lean muscle mass. This type of weight loss diet makes you feel fuller, increase metabolic rate, and keep muscle mass.

Generally, a diet high in protein may remove more than about 20% of your total calories from protein. This means that eating fewer calories from fats or carbohydrates to keep calories in balance.

Most people who want to lose weight follow a type of high protein diet plan. With this type of diet, dieter feels satiated for a long time causing him/her to eat fewer calories. This will help to lose weight quickly. Also, proteins help increase metabolism which is believed to be vital for weight loss.

How high protein diets help you lose weight?

A healthy weight loss diet or wellness should always include a balance of these 3 macronutrients or macros: fats, carbs, and proteins. And generally, a high protein diet has at least 20% of calories from protein. The amount of protein that you should take or eat should depend on some factors which includes your gender, age, body size, and activity level.

Basic Protein Guidelines

  • RDA for healthy adults – a minimum of 0.8g/kg/day (or 54 grams for an individual weighing 150 lbs).
  • Exercisers need 1.2 to 1.7g/kg/day (or 82-116 grams for an individual weighing 150 lbs).
  • Take 10% to 35% of your total calories as protein.

With a calorie tracking app or online site that helps count calories, it is easy to check and monitor your protein intake everyday. Many of those who follow the high protein diet plans use apps to monitor to make sure they are getting the correct ratio of protein to carbohydrate and fat.

Typically, a recommended ratio to begin with high protein diet is 30% of calories from protein, 30% of calories from fats, and 40% of calories from carbs. After several weeks following this type of diet plan, dieter may find out that he/she may do better with a little or more of a macronutrient. Hence, dieter may adjust macro settings as it may be needed.

What you should eat

There are no specific foods that are prohibited on a high protein diet plan. It is suggested to eat more lean proteins and eat less refined carbs, fats, and sugars.

What you should eat more

  • Vegetables such as leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, and peppers
  • Low glycemic fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins like lean meat, seafood, low-fat dairy, eggs, soy, seeds and nuts

What you should eat less

  • Sugars which include sweetened condiments and candies
  • Fried foods and saturated fats
  • Refined carbohydrates like pasta, white rice, and bread

Important tips to get you started

  • Begin your day with protein. Breakfast with eggs can make a protein-rich and filling meal in the morning. However, if you do not like eggs, you may make a smoothie made with protein powder like whey, collagen or pea protein, berries, or leafy greens is a satisfying morning meal.
  • Incorporate protein in every meal. Plan each meal with protein from pork, lean beef, chicken, and add the rest of your plate with veggies.
  • Ward off processed carbs such as refined grains (white rice, bread, pasta). Add small portions of whole grains high in protein such as quinoa or amaranth, instead. You may also substitute pasta with spiralized carrots or zucchini. You may use riced cauliflower instead of white rice.
  • Enjoy snacking with protein. Make it a habit to have high protein snacks on hand when hunger strikes in between meals. String cheese, almonds, hummus, greek yogurt, and ricotta are just some of convenient snacks on-the-go.

Pros

  • Proteins helps you feel satiated. With proteins in every meal and snacks help you feel fuller satisfied after eating. This feeling of fullness may help you to eat less for the entire day.
  • Proteins build muscle and maintain muscle mass. A strong body performs better through your daily activities, but the muscles that mold a beautiful body also burn more calories than fat, even if its at rest.
  • Protein helps improve your diet. Learning to take various kinds of protein may improve diet. Like, if you eat tuna, you benefit from the protein from the fish and the healthy fats that it provide.
  • Proteins help burn more calories. This is because your body has to work more to chew and digest the foods. Experts call this term as “thermic effect of food.”  Also, take note that the number of added calories is small so you should not make the whole weight loss program based only from this benefit.

Cons

  • Some nutritional deficiencies like fiber that may result tp constipation. This type of diet may also cause bad breath.
  • Increased risks on heart disease. Some versions of high protein diets promotes eating high fat foods like full fat dairy and fatty cuts of beef. A diet that is high in saturated fats increases risks for heart problems.
  • Worsen kidney function. If you have some kidney problems, consult your doctor first before following this type of diet. If there is an excess protein is released through kidneys and this may worsen kidney functions.
  • May have possibility of increased blood sugar levels. Since the body turns excess protein to glucose to be used for energy. Those with diabetes may find a high protein diet can increase their blood sugar levels.

Final notes,

If you are considering a high protein diet plan, choose your proteins wisely. Better protein options include nuts, soy protein, beans, lean beef, pork, fish, nuts, low-fat dairy products, and skinless poultry. Keep off from processed meats.

Another important factor is your choice of quality carbs. Cut on processed carbs from your meals and opt for carb that are rich in fiber and nutrients, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Nothing beats talking with your doctor before choosing any weight loss diet, especially if you have some kidney problems or diabetes, or other severe health conditions.

Also, always remembers that weight loss may be temporary, particularly if you return to your previous eating habits. The best diet plan is one that you can stick to long term.

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