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It is quite evident from the media hype, that high protein, animal based diets that are high in fat but low in carbohydrates are trending right now. These types of diets have been around for decades, and go through cycles of praise and criticism. That’s because these diets are a double edged sword. On the one hand, they really do work wonders for some people and the benefits of cutting out refined grains are obvious. But they are not without their side effects, and truth be told, they just are not for everyone! Beside the fact that these diets can have quite detrimental side effects in some people, there is also the issue of preference.
At the end of the day it’s about making an informed decision based on your weight loss and health needs as well as your personal preferences.
The Science Behind High Protein Diets
The main weight loss effect from these diets is due to cutting of starches and sugars (lets call them carbs), resulting in an energy deficit due to lack of glucose (our primary source of energy) in the blood. Just reducing the chips, pasta and pizza for example will already help to cut your calorie intake. But lowering the carb intake also forces the body to look for alternative sources of energy. First it will go for the stored glucose in your liver and muscles, resulting in some weight loss and a feeling of being less full or bloated. Once you run out of stored glucose, and if carbohydrate restriction is maintained, your body will start to target stored fat for energy. The body now goes into what is known as ketosis, because the fatty acids it metabolizes for energy are called ketones. With prolonged carbohydrate restriction it takes the average person around three days to go into ketosis. There is also a significant amount of fluid that is lost as the kidneys work hard to flush out the ketones. You generally feel energized on this diet because fat and ketones now supply you with energy. The higher fat content of the diet, coupled with high protein also helps to suppress the appetite. So, if you continue on like this, the weight loss should continue for some time.
The Basics Of High Protein Eating
A higher protein, higher fat, low carbohydrate diet is based on the principle that its insulin stimulating carbs, and not fat that results in weight gain. This way of eating therefore encourages us to eliminate all grains from the diet. So forget about breads, pastas, rice, potatoes and cereals and definitely say goodbye to sugar, cakes, chocolates and pastries. Depending on the type of diet you subscribe too, most fruits, legumes and certain vegetables are also severely restricted. Milk and yogurt are also sometimes on the forbidden list, as they contain lactose, a carbohydrate.
While good fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish and raw oils are suggested, many of these diets also allow for the fat on the meat, chicken skin, cream and butter to be consumed guilt-free. Non-starchy vegetables compliment each meal.
Who Would Benefit From High Protein Diet?
People who could follow this type of diet for prolonged periods do need to have a specific body type. Insulin resistant or diabetic people who cannot tolerate carbohydrates well often flourish on this type of plan. There is often an “apple shape” to these types of bodies, with most of the fat around the abdominal area. If you don’t get digestive upsets from the diet and can maintain a relatively good fiber intake from vegetables, then you could possible maintain it for some time.