High protein diets such as the Dukan diet have been hitting the news as a way to lose weight without feeling hungry – but there many people trying to find out the answers to key questions such as:
- What are the pros and cons of such diets?
- How much protein do you need to eat?
- How easy is it to devise your own high protein diet plan?
- Will it be right for my weight loss goals?
Today we are going to address some of these questions and give you some pointers about what to be wary of, what health problems might make this type of diet unsuitable for you and the type of protein that you should be including.
The Benefits of Following a High Protein Diet Plan
Research at Johns Hopkins University proved that following a diet containing approximately 25% lean protein, reduced blood pressure and the levels of LDL the so-called “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream.
“… evidence from randomized controlled trials suggests that an increased intake of protein, from both plant and animal sources, may lower BP and thus potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Research has also identified a link between higher protein diets and a decrease of incidence of the bone thinning caused by Osteoporosis, obesity and a decrease in the related condition of type 2 or adult onset Diabetes.
Another huge benefit to a higher protein intake is that it helps dieters to retain more lean muscle and lose more fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat even when the body is at rest. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn even when you are sitting on the sofa or laying in your bed!
This resting metabolism is the body’s Base Metabolic Rate or BMR and the higher yours is, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. Adding in exercise to this type of diet will be even more beneficial, raising your metabolism further and turning your body into a much more efficient calorie-burner!
Why Are Higher Protein Diets Easier To Follow?
Simply put, it takes a longer time and more effort for your body to digest and utilize protein. This means that eating a meal containing higher than normal levels of protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer. It also means that you use more calories just to digest it!
For example, eating a meal of lean chicken and fresh green vegetables with only a small portion of carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, pasta or bread, will have fewer calories but will probably keep your hunger satisfied for longer. It is this feeling of satiety that helps keep those cravings at bay and makes it easier to resist those diet-killing forays to the fridge or the cookie jar!
How Much Protein Is There In A High Protein Diet?
Many nutritionists advise that a good rule of thumb is to eat around 0.5 to 1.0 grams of protein for every pound of body weight, every day. The simple little table below will help you if you are trying to lose weight. It shows how many grams of protein you should be eating each day – as the general recommendation is that a high protein, weight loss diet should include around 0.75 grams of protein for every pound of body weight.
High Protein Weight Loss Plan Guide To Daily Protein Intake
|Body Weight In Pounds||Daily Protein Intake (in grams) to aim for|
These figures are only intended as a guide and a more accurate calculator that takes into account height, age, gender and level of activity can be found here; just key in your details and it will tell you your recommended protein intake in grams!
What are the Potential Drawbacks of Higher Protein Diet Plans?
If you are trying to lose weight, you will want to know whether following this type of diet is safe. Following a high protein diet of this type is generally safe for most people unless they have a pre-existing medical condition. However, it is important to understand that if you drastically cut down on your carbohydrate intake, it can have serious health implications if you follow the diet for more than about six months or so.
The Health Dangers of “Cutting Out Carbs”
Following a very low carbohydrate diet can cause digestive problems because of insufficient fiber in the diet to ‘keep things moving’ so to speak! Constipation could be the least of your worries if you do not take in sufficient carbohydrate for your body’s needs though. Starving yourself of carbohydrates robs your body of vital nutrients and antioxidants that boost immunity and protect against certain cancers. (source)
Problems Of A High Protein Intake
As mentioned previously, the type of protein foods you eat can have health implications. If you consume large quantities of red meat or dairy products, the high fat content can increase cholesterol levels and your risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is important to choose your proteins carefully and opt for the lower fat options. This is where nutritionally controlled protein powder supplements can be a big help because everything nutritionally balanced for you and you can get all the information you need from the side of the pack!
A good rule is to see your Doctor before you try any sort of weight loss plan to get a health check first. This is even more important if you have any pre-existing health condition.
Constructing Your Own High Protein Diet Plan
One of the key things about successfully losing weight on a high protein diet plan is when you consume your protein. Many nutrition experts including Dr. Donald Layman from the University of Illinois advise that you should eat at least 30 grams of your daily protein intake at breakfast. This has two main benefits:
- It will replenish your body after a night of fasting (after all breakfast is “break-fast” because it is, quite literally, breaking the fast of the night).
- It will help to regulate your appetite for the rest of the day.
Remember that many protein sources such as hard cheeses and red meats are also very high in fat. For this reason, try to consume lean protein such as fish, chicken and turkey. Low fat dairy products are also good if you do not have problems with lactose intolerance.
It is important to get a complete and balanced amino acid profile in the proteins you eat so Vegetarians and Vegans need to eat proteins from a mixture of vegetable sources throughout the day in order to achieve this. Proteins from nuts, grains, seeds and beans should all be included. Tofu, a micoprotein is an excellent protein source too.
Following A Diet Plan
There are several different diet plans that have achieved huge popularity and become almost like a ‘Bible’ for some. The Atkins Diet is possibly the most famous, a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that had many converts but it was not without its problems. The South Beach diet is similar to the Atkins Diet.
The Dukan diet involves eating a large amount of lean protein with just some oat bran and water at the start and working through stages until a level is reached where a normal diet can be followed on six days a week and reverting to the high protein diet on the seventh.
Many nutritionists now agree that the safest way to proceed with any type of high protein diet is to follow a plan like the Zone diet which is a high protein diet, low fat diet with moderate amounts carbohydrate. The diet includes lean proteins, plenty of vegetables, two fruits per day and not more than two helpings of grains that should be whole grains.
How To Be Successful With Weight Loss On A High Protein Diet
The real trick is to follow an eating plan that is sustainable and that you can fit comfortably into your daily life. You need to feel fit and full of energy and not hungry in order to stick to any diet regime!
- Choose lean protein foods that have a low fat content.
- Limit your intake of red meat and ‘junk’ foods with their high fat content.
- Eat as many fresh vegetables in a rainbow of colors as you can manage.
- Limit your fruits to a couple per day because of the high sugar content.
- Avoid refined sugar as far as possible.
- Cut down on processed, refined carbohydrates such as white flour, pasta, rice and potatoes and opt instead, for the wholegrain, unrefined versions.
- Consider boosting your protein intake with a high-quality protein powder supplement containing all the essential amino acids.
Following the above steps will ensure that you get a nutritionally balanced diet containing sufficient nutrients from all the major food groups. Adding a protein supplement will enable you to boost your protein intake without taking in too many extra calories and it will help you to do it in a way that is quick, convenient and sustainable.