Many people believe that high protein low carb foods will always result in weight loss. Since these diets have been promoted a lot lately, it only makes sense to understand a little more about the benefits and the side effects of these diets.
By eating high protein low carb foods, a dieter tries to get up to 40% of their daily caloric needs from proteins alone. One example is the famous Atkins Diet, but that too has come a lot under scrutiny lately. It focuses mainly on the intake of very few carbohydrates. Most high protein diets are also low carbohydrate diets in disguise. But are these diets the best way to lose weight? Let us explore these diets in detail and find out whether they are worth a try.
Could a low carb diet actually be bad for you in the long run?
While a diet comprising mainly of high protein low carb foods is eaten for a short period of time, it poses no serious health risks. But if followed for too long, the effects can be damaging from mild to severe, based on how strictly the diet is being followed and also for how long you plan to continue it.
Here is a realistic look at some of the short term side effects of a diet low in carbohydrates:
– Constipation, because of lack of fiber
– Dehydration in some cases
– Loss of appetite
However, the story doesn’t end here. Such a diet can have some serious repercussions too. The long term side effects of a diet too low in carbohydrates include:
Kidney failure – Too much protein in the diet puts a lot of strain on kidneys
High cholesterol – a diet rich in meats, especially red meats for proteins, will increase cholesterol levels in the body. This increases risk to strokes and heart diseases
Osteoporosis – High protein levels tend to make people excrete excess calcium, resulting in oesteropororsis or even kidney stones
Lack of nutrition – Since high protein diets restrict intake of fruits and vegetables to quite a limit, they result in nutritional deficiencies that can also lower immunity in the body and increase risk to fatal diseases like cancer.
Ketosis – While Ketosis initially burns off fat reserves, if the body stays in the state of ketosis for too long it exposes the body to many dangers. Organs could fail proper functioning, especially the kidney. It is best to eat a minimum of 100 grams of carbohydrates every day.
So is there a way to practice the high protein low carb diet safely?
To begin with, understand that your body will require a steady source of carbohydrate every day for healthy functioning of all organs. Carbs metabolize fats and are necessary. Stick to unrefined, complex carbs with a low glycemic index and high fiber content. To ensure you don’t eat too much carbs, eat smaller portions and choose from ‘Good carbs’ as opposed to ‘Bad Carbs’. Good examples are – fruits, vegetables, oats and whole grain breads, which should be eaten in moderation.
The best high protein low carb foods to choose from are:
1. Red Meat –
All meats offer high proteins and low carbs. However, it is best to choose only lean cuts of meat – pork tenderloin, lean ground beef, sirloin, and game meats. It is interesting that game meats which include venison, elk and bison are much leaner than grass fed meats.
2. Eggs –
An egg will give you 6 grams of protein and just 0.4 grams of carbs. Eat eggs through the day – scrambled for breakfast, boiled eggs chopped in to a salad for lunch and a low carb dinner of frittata. If cholesterol is a problem, stick to egg whites only.
3. Sea food –
All sea food is a healthy source of protein. Oily fish like tuna, salmon and cod are great options since they are also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Keep in mind that shellfish like oysters and mussels have higher carbs content.
4. Poultry –
Chicken, Turkey and Pheasant are all great sources of protein. Try and eat the meat with no skin, as the skin is where the animal fats are collected.
5. Other options –
Other healthy options are some low carb and high protein cheese. Cottage cheese, cheddar and soft goat cheese are great options. Nuts are one of the healthiest high protein low carb foods as they offer more than just protein. They contain many essential minerals and vitamins. Tofu and soya products are also a healthy choice. Legumes are great for a low card and high protein diet. Especially beans and sprouts are great options. Healthy oils are a must for a high protein low carb diet. Canola oil, olive oil, soy oil and peanut oil are good options
If you are trying to achieve fast weight loss, a diet comprising of only high protein low carb foods is not a bad idea. However, for a longer run, try and include more whole grains, fruits and vegetables in to the diet to make it more balanced. This will also result in wanted weight loss over a long period of time while reducing risk to chronic diseases that are a result of too much protein intake.