If you are reading this article, then you must have been enlightened by some great weight loss story where the individual has successfully lost a lot of body weight. Thanks to high protein, low carb diets!
It’s true that there are several success stories of weight loss achieved simply by limiting carb intake. The low-carb diet has reduced the weight and brought smiles to people’s faces from the 19th century, and it continues to do so every day, and with a good reason, that is. Read on more about this amazing diet plan and who knows, and you might join in on the whole weight loss experience any time soon!
The Basics of A High Protein, Low-Carb Diet
Our body requires three different food types in order to function properly. These would be carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are used in order for the body to get the energy that it needs on a daily basis so that they can fulfill all of the required activities. Some of the carbohydrates are converted into energy as soon as they are introduced to the body.
The diet involves a lot of scientific explanations about insulin and glucagons, the major hormones that turn food into fuel for your body.
The idea is that by limiting carbs, you lower your insulin level. That leads your body to make more glucagon, which helps burn stored fat. Do this long enough, and the fat seems to melt away.
What is A Low-Carb Diet?
A low-carb diet, short for low-carbohydrate diet or also known as, carbohydrate-restricted diet, is a diet plan that limits the daily consummation of carbohydrates. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a low-carb diet consists of 20% carbohydrates as compared with other diet plans (1).
Normally, a low-carb diet does not only limit or restrict the intake of carbohydrates, but it also replaces them with foods which are high in healthy fats and proteins. A low-carb diet does not limit your calorie intake, it simply limits the intake of foods that are bad for you anyway, and it does it with style – it offers great replacements so that you do not have to feel hungry all the time. But when was that this great diet plan first appeared?
Despite the popular belief that the low-carb diet first appeared in the 21st century that is not true. Although we cannot deny that the low-carb diet certainly got way too famous in the 21st century, it was back in the 19th century when it was first developed by an Englishman named William Banting (2).
William Banting was struggling with him being overweight, obese even and you can imagine his surprise when he found that as soon as he limited his carbohydrates intake, he started experiencing weight loss. He tried out different diet plans and even regular physical exercise, but nothing seemed to be working until he decided to give up on bread, milk, butter, sugar, and potatoes. That was when he noticed that he was losing a pound a week and he was highly satisfied with his results. So satisfied that he was more than happy to share his diet plan with the people around him. That was how the idea of the low-carb diet was born.
How Does This Diet Work?
Experts have been looking into low-calorie diet since as far back as the 1980s. It became a medical interest because of claims saying that it can slow the aging process. For weight loss, the science is very straightforward and simple – consume fewer calories than you burn, and you will lose weight.
As a general rule, the USDA recommends a 2000 calorie per day diet for weight maintenance, and 1900 or fewer calories daily for weight loss. This can be reduced further to 1500 or fewer. It does, however, reiterates the importance of a balanced nutritional intake in accordance with USDA guidelines (3).
However, it is not as easy as it may sound. It takes planning and effort to overcome hunger cues and to make sure those 1000 to 1500 are sufficient enough to fuel the body and contain the right nutrients. A low-calorie diet is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who need more calories to sustain their infants as well as themselves. Athletes also require energy from calories to perform, hence not advised to go on a low-calorie diet.
Before starting on a low-calorie diet, it is always a good idea to get a complete physical exam, especially if you have any health conditions, including high cholesterol and blood pressure. Measure your body composition and determine your goals.
Also, it is very important to know your daily calorie needs. This step will be different for everyone and will even change for you over time. Determine how many calories you need daily to keep your current weight, then decrease that number by 100 to 500 calories. It is better to start slowly with just a small reduction. After all, this is lifestyle modification. If you are over-exuberant at the start, you might find the process too difficult to continue.
Health Benefits of Eating A High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet
You probably have heard of the great weight loss effects that a low-carb diet has the ability to deliver. The biggest health benefit of the low-carb diet is weight loss. This health benefit has been a subject to numerous scientific researchers, and all of them have proved it in the end. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 2003, found out that a low-carb diet provides better weight loss results as compared to a low-fat diet (4). Another study published in the British Journal of Medicine has confirmed the same findings (5)!
By enhancing the weight loss process, the low-carb diet works to reduce other health risks including stroke, heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, and many others since we know that obesity is a great risk factor for all of these and many other health issues (6). People who have a family history involving heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, etc. might find it interesting enough to take on the low-carb diet even if they are not interested in losing weight as a way to improve their body image and self-esteem.
What Should You Eat On A High Protein, Low-Carb Diet?
Opposite to what most diet plans, the low-carb diet offers a variety of healthy foods that will satisfy your hunger, and keep you energized throughout the day. The trick is to learn to recognize which foods contain low levels of carbohydrates, high levels of clean proteins, and high levels of healthy fats. You would not like to cause an increase in your cholesterol levels by making the mistake of introducing unhealthy fats instead of healthy ones. Or, to make the mistake of feeling hungry because you are unsure what you are supposed to be eating and what not. Here are some of the best food you should not miss in your high protein, low-carb diet.
Shrimp is a seriously underrated lean protein source and virtually carb-free. Just one serving provides nearly half of the daily value (DV) of protein. Shrimp also get their pink color from an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is said to have skin and heart health benefits.
Lobster is an excellent source of lean protein that boasts an impressive nutritional profile. It’s a good source of vitamin B12 and choline, which support brain function. Enjoy without the roll and heavy dressings to keep it low in carbs and healthy.
3. Almond Butter
Typically low in carbs but higher in fat and protein, nut butters can make for great snacks. Almond butter provides nice variety if you’re typically all about the peanut butter.
Oats can certainly be an excellent addition to a healthy weight loss diet. They are not just low in calories but also contain high amounts of protein and fiber to help keep you feeling full.
A ½ cup serving of dry oats has less than 150 calories but packs 3.8 grams of fiber and 5.5 packs of protein. These can have a significant impact on your appetite and hunger (7). It has been proven to be effective in increasing feelings of fullness and reducing hunger and calorie intake at the next meal (8). Another study found that instant and old-fashioned oatmeal can significantly improve appetite control for 4 hours compared to a bowl of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (9).
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is also a good source of protein that can help reduce cravings and promote weight loss. Though the exact numbers may differ between brands and flavors, a 2/3 cup serving of Greek yogurt can provide approximately 130 calories and 11 grams of protein (10). Evidence found that women who ate yogurt instead of crackers and chocolates experienced less hunger and consumed 100 fewer calories at dinner (11). Also, another study suggested that high-protein Greek yogurt is more effective in creating feelings of fullness compared to lower-protein snacks (12).
Eggs contain several vital nutrients minus the calories! One large egg contains 6 grams of protein, a wide array of important vitamins and minerals, and just 72 calories (13).
Evidence found that consuming eggs in the morning can help reduce hunger and promote fullness. They are even better than bagels. They can help you consume 105 fewer calories later in the day (14).
Other studies observed that a high-protein breakfast can limit snacking, slow the emptying of your stomach, and decrease levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone (15).
7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is the perfect snack for those who would want to lose weight. A single cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains about 28 grams of protein and only 163 calories (16). Several studies demonstrate that upping your protein intake from foods like cottage cheese can suppress your appetite and hunger levels (17).
Tuna is easy to enjoy and keep on hand. Just two ounces of pure protein is an easy way to make any meal or snack high protein. Just make sure to purchase a low-mercury option. Pair with veggies, as a base for tuna salad, or use on sandwiches. Tuna is certainly a versatile ingredient.
Many are dismissing potatoes as unhealthy and harmful because of their association with chips and French fries. However, the truth is that potatoes can be very filling and are nutritious.
A medium-sized baked potato with its skin contains approximately 161 calories but offers 4 grams each of fiber and protein (20). A study assessing the effects of certain foods on satiety ranked boiled potatoes as the most feeling, with a satiety index score of 323. It is seven times greater than croissants (21).Animal and human studies indicate that the filling effects of potatoes are due to protease inhibitors, which are compounds that can decrease appetite and food intake (22).
Because of their high protein and fiber content, legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas can be incredibly filling. A single cup of cooked lentils can give you approximately 230 calories, as well as 15.6 grams of fiber and nearly 18 grams of protein (23).
Several studies proved that legumes have a powerful effect on appetite and hunger. A high protein meal with beans and peas can increase satiety better than a meal with pork and veal (24).
Another review of studies reported that people felt 31% more full after consuming pulses, a type of legume, compared to high carb meals of bread and pasta (25).
11. Chia Seeds
Often hailed as a superfood, chia seeds load high amounts of protein and fiber into a low number of calories. A single ounce serving will give you 137 calories, 4.4 grams of protein, and an impressive 10.6 grams of fiber (26)!
Chia seeds are particularly rich in soluble fiber, a type that absorbs fluids and swells in your stomach to promote satiety (27). Some research noticed that they can absorb 10-12 times their water in water, moving slowly through your gut and keep you feeling full (28).
Adding chia seeds to your regular diet can help prevent cravings for sugary foods and decrease hunger and appetite (29). You can mix it with your favorite yogurt too!
Who doesn’t love berries? Which is your favorite? Do you like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries? Anyway, whichever you choose, they are equally nutritious! All are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can promote overall health. They are also rich in fiber, which can control hunger and boost weight loss.
A single cup of blueberries can supply 3.6 grams of fiber and just 84 calories (30). Berries are also an excellent source of pectin, a type of dietary fiber that has been proven to be effective in delaying stomach emptying and increasing feelings of fullness in both animals and humans (31, 32). This can greatly help cut calorie consumption to aid weight loss.
Another evidence noted that a 65-calorie snack of berries can help decrease calorie intake later in the day compared to a confectionary snack containing the same amount of calories (33).
In particular, apples have a very high satiety index score (36). They contain pectin, a soluble fiber that naturally slows digestion to help you feel full. They are likewise over 85% water, which adds volume and improves satiety without adding calories.
It is very important to remember that whole, solid fruits can increase satiety more than juice and purees (37). Evidence showed that those who ate solid apple segments took 91 fewer calories than those who had applesauce and 150 fewer calories than those who enjoyed apple juice (38).
Is This Diet Safe for Everyone?
Sadly but true, the high protein, low-carb diet is not for everyone. Anyone who is dealing with cardiovascular issues, diabetes type 1 or type 2, or has a history of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke, should talk to his/her doctor first before proceeding to follow a low-carb diet. Despite the fact that there might not be any risk at all, there are a lot of other things to be considered at the same time.
Please consult your doctor on whether the low-carb diet is the best diet option for you. There are a lot of other diet plans that can be just as effective as the low-carb diet and you should not feel disappointed if your doctor directs you away from the low-carb diet.
With the low-carb diet, weight loss has never been easier. By simply limiting the intake of carbohydrates through your diet and replacing them with healthier food choices, you will be making the great step towards weight loss in a number of weeks. Join in the many people all around the world, who thanks to the low-carb diet, have successfully lost weight and improved their lives to the better with a few simple steps.