High-protein, low-carb diets have been a go-to in the health and fitness world for years, but many people still don't know exactly what constitutes a high-protein diet. To answer all of your questions, we'll discuss the benefits and side effects of a high-protein, low-carb diet, the best foods for success, and even have some helpful recipe ideas for you.
In this article you will find:
- What High-Protein,Low-Carb Diets Are
- The benefits of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet
- The side effects of this diet
- A list of high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods
- Recipe ideas
What are High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets?
There are three macronutrients that make up a diet: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Most diets fall into two camps: low fat/high carbs and high fat/low carbs. Low-carb diets contain a lot of fats and more proteins. Carbohydrates and fats are the body's two main energy sources.
A low-carb diet tends to eliminate most refined carbohydrate choices such as bread and pasta. Starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice are also often removed from a low-carb diet. Most carbohydrates in a low-carb diet usually come from vegetables and a limited amount of fruit. A low-carb diet is often associated with a lot of protein.
Most foods high in protein often contain fat, too, so these two macronutrients seem to combine well. Protein is responsible for maintaining our muscle mass, our metabolism and some of our hormones. There are several forms of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. A very strict form of this is a ketogenic diet, which allows only 30 g of carbohydrates per day. There are more flexible options with a carb margin of 50g to 150g carbs per day.
High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets normally allow for an intake of 50 to 150 g of carbohydrates per day.
This depends on weight and activity level and can be adjusted accordingly. Those with a high activity level and higher body weight may require a higher carbohydrate intake than this, with intake being based on exercise volume and grams per kilogram of body weight.
Benefits of a high-protein diet.
Increased Saturation To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. One of the problems with a calorie deficit is that hunger increases — and that's where protein can help.
Due to the rate of digestion, high protein diets are associated with increased satiety levels, as it takes much longer to break down and digest – making us feel full for longer. Protein tends to elicit a higher satiety response than carbohydrates, but carbohydrates high fiber sources will also increase satiety. Preserving Muscle Mass When you are on a diet, there is an increased risk of muscle loss. This is because there is less fuel from food, which leads to an increased breakdown of muscle proteins.
Eating a high-protein diet reduces the risk of muscle breaking down to be used as fuel. By preserving muscle mass, the body's metabolism drops less, which is important for weight loss. Thermal effect of food Protein has a high thermal effect compared to other macronutrients.
This means that it takes a lot of energy to break it down and digest it. Carbohydrates and fats use about 10% of the food's energy to break it down, while proteins use up to 30% of the food's calories to break it down. When a food has a higher thermal effect, it means that there are fewer calories to store as body fat. This can indirectly increase the calorie deficit and promote weight loss.
Less choice The more choice we have in our diet, the more we can be tempted. If food is limited, dieting can be made easier. By lowering the carbohydrates, the diet "removes" a food group. This, in turn, can amplify the calorie deficit responsible for weight loss. Less choice often leads to less overeating.
Increased Fat Usage Reducing carbohydrate intake reduces the amount of glycogen stored in your body. This is important because there is evidence that performing exercises with less glycogen availability will increase the amount of fat used as fuel during that training session.
While your overall energy balance over a 24-hour period (i.e. being in a negative energy balance) will have the greatest effect on fat loss, exercising low in glycogen can help accelerate fat loss.
Higher protein intake leads to increased satiety, meaning you feel full for longer. It also reduces the chances of muscle loss, taking more energy to be broken down by the body, while a low-carb diet means you're less likely to overeat and keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
Side Effects of a High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet
For most people, there aren't too many side effects of a low-carb, high-protein diet. There are a few exceptions, such as people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have other health conditions.
Before making any drastic changes to your diet, always talk to your doctor first. For highly active individuals, or those with an exercise goal, carbohydrates play an important role in recovery and performance and should be taken into account when reducing carbohydrate intake. In this case, planning your carbohydrate intake around important training sessions may be a better strategy.
Another possible side effect of a low-carb diet is its potential impact on digestion. Carbohydrates, especially whole grains, are a good source of fiber and prebiotics that are important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. A lack of it in the diet can lead to bloating and constipation. For most people, the diet is often well-tolerated and the most common side effect is weight loss, which can be a benefit depending on your current weight and goals.
Aside from weight loss, there are few side effects associated with a high-protein, low-carb diet. We recommend that you seek advice from a medical professional before adopting such a diet.
The Best High-Protein, Low-Carb Food Sources
Here are three main food groups that make up each diet. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates (a low-carb diet does not mean a “no-carb diet”.)
When looking at which protein is best, you should choose sources that are complete, as they have all the essential amino acids available.
These are usually meat, fish and dairy sources. However, adding the branched-chain amino acid leucine to vegetarian sources has been shown to improve the anabolic potential (ability to build muscle) of a vegetable protein source with fewer essential amino acids. An additional factor is the digestion rate of the protein.
sources such as whey are quick to digest and tend to be more beneficial after a workout, while casein protein sources in milk and cottage cheese have slower digestion and are usually better right before bed.
The healthiest fat sources are polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fats and fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats have been linked to a huge range of health benefits, including improved heart health and immunity
Try to choose carbohydrate sources that are rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fiber. This will help increase satiety and keep you feeling full for longer. Their low calorie content will also help you eat more and maintain a negative energy balance.
Try to choose protein-rich foods, such as:
- Eggs and proteins
- Chicken breast
- Low fat beef
- Turkey breast
- Greasy fish
- White fish
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
- Soy protein
- Soft cheese
Choose healthy fats such as:
- Flax seed nuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Various nut butters (check carbohydrate content)
- Chia seeds
- Fish oil
- Limited amount of dark chocolate
Healthy carbohydrates to include in a low-carb diet:
- Kale Roots
- Oats (depending on the total amount of carbohydrates)