High protein diets have been touted as the most effective way to lose weight. Here's the skinny on how and why they work. Included is a list of high protein foods.
Scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast, a couple of hamburgers without the buns for lunch, a generous strip of juicy steak for dinner, and maybe a protein shake or two, or a couple of protein bars in between. This kind of a diet plan is what high protein diets are all about.
In fact, in recent years, high-protein-low-carbohydrate diets have become very popular as an effective way to lose weight. Diets like these usually recommend an intake of 30 percent to even 50 percent of total calories from protein, going against the conventional nutritional norms of consuming far fewer calories from protein.
High Protein Diets
The terms "high protein" and "low carbohydrate" are linked strongly to highly controversial Atkins Diet. However, many other diets that work more or less on the same rationale; examples include the Protein Power Lifeplan, the Zone Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Stillman Diet, the Sugar Busters Diet, the FatLoss4Idiots Diet and the Muscle Gaining Diet.
Although many people use the two terms synonymously and interchangeably, both "high protein diet" and "low carbohydrate diet" are inextricably linked in weight loss diets like these. This, however, is not true; you can follow a diet with a lot of carbohydrate included, or a low carbohydrate diet with normal amounts of protein.
However, according to high-protein/low-carb diet gurus like Dr. Atkins, a high protein diet has to be combined with consuming low amounts of carbohydrate for weight loss to occur.
Most of these diets have several phases, wherein the initial phase is usually when the diet is the most stringent, and then a gradual easing off in subsequent phases, until a maintenance phase is arrived at.So, what does a high-protein/low-carb diet actually involve?
Components of High Protein Diet
Stuff to Avoid:
♦ The main carbohydrate that needs to be eliminated is sugar in all its forms such as brown sugar, granulated white sugar, powdered sugar, and so on. ♦ All kinds of pasta come under carbohydrates, so all spaghetti and noodle products to be eschewed. ♦ All kinds of foods that contain starch, like potatoes and white rice, have to be avoided.
♦ Cereals are a high-carb food hence needs to be avoided completely, at least in the initial phase. ♦ Foods like barbeque sauce, bacon, salad dressing, ketchup, fruit juice, and even cough syrup also need to be avoided - they have hidden sugars in them. ♦ All food products made of flour have also to be eliminated, as these are high-carb foods too.
Due to the popularity of low-carb foods, supermarkets these days have begun stocking their shelves with low-carb versions of milk, sodas, bread, ice cream, wine and beer. However, even though these may be low-carb, you need to be circumspect about consuming them.
For quick effective weight loss, it is best to avoid them completely in the initial stage. One of the most controversial aspects of most high-protein/low-carb diets is the elimination of fruits and fruit juices in the initial phase, since they are mostly pure forms of carbohydrates.
Stuff to Eat:
♦ As is obvious by the term "high-protein" you are allowed to eat all kinds of meats, poultry, seafood, fish, and eggs. (However, prepared meats like honey baked ham and bacon are not allowed because they are high in sugar.)
♦ All vegetables, which are low glycemic, are allowed (low glycemic means any food that is not easily converted into glucose by the body), such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, egg plant, cucumber, and so on.
♦ Cheese, butter and cream are allowed. In fact, most high-protein diets recommend a high intake of fat.
Dr. Atkins is of the opinion that dietary fat helps the body to metabolize fat in order to derive energy from it, rather than storing it as body fat. Plus, according to him, the satiating factor of dietary fats helps to curb hunger pangs.
And another plus point about this diet for dieters (sick of starving themselves in order to lose weight) is that most high-protein/low-carb diets do not ask you to limit the amounts of food you eat, unlike low-cal diets, which are based on limiting food intake.
Rationale of High Protein Diets:
Why and how does a high-protein/low-carb diet work? How, for instance, can you lose weight eating high calorie foods like meat, butter and cream?
This kind of diet works on the basis of ketosis. Ketosis is the process wherein the body uses the stored body fat (which is the body's secondary source of energy) as energy, which causes the weight loss. A little background about the body's mechanism of getting and storing energy will explain this concept more clearly.
How Your Body Works: Diets that include high glycemic carbohydrates are easily converted into glucose by the body.
When glucose is available, the body uses it first as the primary source of energy, because it is far easier and faster to digest glucose; it gives you so-called "instant energy". However, as soon as there is a surfeit of glucose in the body, it results in insulin being produced in order to get the blood glucose back into a stable level.
Insulin does this by sending the glucose into cells for their energy requirements, a part of the glucose that is not used is turned into glycogen and stored in the liver, and the rest of the glucose is turned into body fat.
Usually, with the modern-day sedentary lifestyle, we consume far more glucose producing high glycemic carbohydrate foods than we need. Hence, most of it is turned into fat, in the form of triglycerides.
How High Protein Diets Work: In high-protein/low-carb diets, since high glycemic carbohydrates are eliminated, there is less glucose in the body. Hence the body is forced to look for some other source of energy, which is body fat and the fat in the diet.
When the body metabolizes its stored fat or dietary fat, ketones are formed. So ketones, instead of glucose, become the source of energy for the body. Ketosis is reached when less than 40 grams of carbohydrates are consumed per day. Atkins, recommends cutting carbs down to 20 grams per day. The average diet usually has more than 300 grams of carbs per day.
Chicken, broilers, giblets, fryers, 145 grams - 39.37 grams protein Chicken, broilers, breast, meat, skin, 140 grams - 34.78 grams protein Chicken, canned, with broth, 142 grams - 30.91 grams protein
Halibut, cooked, 159 grams - 42.44 grams protein Salmon, sockeye, 155 grams - 42.33 grams protein Haddock, 150 grams - 36.36 grams protein Rockfish, 149 grams - 35.82 grams protein
Tuna salad, 205 grams - 32.88 grams protein Flatfish (sole and flounder), 127 grams - 30.68 grams protein Swordfish, 106 grams - 26.91 grams protein
Lamb, lean, 85 grams - 30.21 grams protein Pork, loin, center loin, lean, 85 grams - 27.35 grams protein Beef, round, bottom round, lean, 85 grams - 26.85 grams protein Pork, shoulder, lean, 85 grams - 27.42 grams protein
Beef, chuck, 85 grams - 26.40 grams protein Beef, top sirloin, 85 grams - 25.81 grams protein Lamb, leg, sirloin and shank, 85 grams - 24.06 grams protein
Dairy and Eggs
Milk, 1 cup - 8 grams protein Single egg, large - 8 grams protein Yogurt, 1 cup - 8-12 grams protein Cottage Cheese, creamed, 1 cup - 24.16 grams protein
Hard Cheeses (Parmesan), 1 oz - 10 grams protein Medium Cheeses (Swiss, Cheddar), 1 oz - 7-8 grams protein Soft Cheeses (Camembert, Brie, Mozzarella), 1 oz - 6 grams protein
Beans and Soy
Tofu, 1 cup - 40 grams protein Soy Milk, 1 cup - 6-10 grams protein Soy Beans, cooked, 1 cup - 28 grams protein
Beans (pinto, black, lentils) cooked, ½ cup - 7-10 grams protein Split Peas, cooked, ½ cup - 8 grams protein
Seeds and Nuts
Almonds, ½ cup - 16 grams protein Cashews, ½ cup - 10 grams protein Peanuts, ½ cup - 18 grams protein Pecans, ½ cup - 5 grams protein
Flax Seeds, ½ cup - 16 grams protein Sunflower Seeds, ½ cup - 12 grams protein Pumpkin Seeds, ½ cup - 38 grams protein
Though these diets work for many people worldwide and are becoming very popular among people who want to lose weight, a lot of health hazards and demerits of high protein diets have also been reported. It is a bad idea to eliminate ALL carbs from your daily diet, even if it is only in the initial stages of a diet you plan to follow.
Then again, not everybody has a constitution that can tolerate such a high intake of proteins. It would be best to consult your family doctor before you switch to a high protein diet.