Diets low in carbohydrates and high in protein are a popular way to lose weight. These diets usually recommend between 50 grams and 150 grams of carbohydrates per day. Foods featured on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet include meats, fish and poultry along with non-starchy fruits and vegetables. Sweets and starchy foods like breads, grains and cereals are discouraged or prohibited. While some medical institutions, like the American Heart Association, warn against high-protein diets because they may lead to the overconsumption of saturated fat and restrict certain healthy foods, high-protein diets do offer dieters some benefits.
Quick Weight Loss
Low-carb, high-protein diets bring about quick weight loss, at least in the short-term. A study in the "New England Journal of Medicine" from May 22, 2003 showed that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet yielded more weight loss than a conventional calorie-restricted, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet after six months. When compared to other popular diets, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet also yielded more weight loss at 12 months, reported a study in a 2007 issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association." Obese and overweight women who followed a popular low-carbohydrate diet plan lost, on average, twice as much weight as those following three other diet plans.
Your body must work harder to digest protein, resulting in a slight increase in your metabolic rate. When researchers compared the effects of a high-protein or a high-carbohydrate diet on ten healthy female volunteers, they found that post-meal digestion energy expenditure averaged about twice as much on the high-protein plan, reported the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" in 2002. The researchers concluded that the added “energy-cost” of eating high-protein foods can help explain the diet's ability to spur weight loss.
A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet can help fill you up for longer, making you feel less deprived while dieting. Harvard Researchers report in an October 2004 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" that of 14 studies comparing protein’s effect on feelings of fullness, 11 of them found that protein increased peoples’ reported satiation levels. When you feel more satisfied on a diet, you are more likely to be able to adhere to it for a longer period of time.
Easier to Follow
A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can be easy to follow. Simple meals composed of a grilled or broiled meat with a large salad can be whipped up at home quickly or found on almost any restaurant menu. Carbohydrate-rich foods -- whether starchy like breads, potatoes, rice and cereals, sweet like candy, soda or fruit juice, or both starchy and sweet, like doughnuts and pastries -- are easy to identify and then avoid. When a diet can be followed easily, you are more likely to stick with it and see results. Researchers from Duke University Medical Center compared the effects of a low-fat diet with the effects of a low-carbohydrate on 120 participants in a study published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” from May 18, 2004. More of those assigned to the low-carb diet completed the study and lost more weight, leading the researchers to conclude that the low-carb, high-protein program enhanced retention.
- New England Journal of Medicine: A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Postprandial Thermogenesis Is Increased 100% on a High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet versus a High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet in Healthy, Young Women
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: The Effects of of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review
- Annals of Internal Medicine: A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia
- meat on grill image by blaine stiger from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.