Despite consuming significant calories, those following a high protein diet plan have been known to lose substantial amounts of weight. Additionally, eating mostly high protein foods has shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to a study published in a 2005 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) “in the setting of a healthful diet, partial substitution of carbohydrate with either protein or monounsaturated fat can further lower blood pressure, improve lipid levels, and reduce estimated cardiovascular risk”.
How High Protein Foods Burns Fat
When the body has to replace carbohydrates with protein for energy, a metabolic condition known as ketosis occurs, in which the body begins to tap its own fat resources for fuel. Normally, carbohydrates provide the body with energy, with most carbs found in plants in the form of monosaccharides. Chemically extracted from these monosaccharides once absorbed by the digestive system, the body, especially the brain, greedily consumes fructose and glucose for fuel. Glucose is essential for cellular functioning, since cells must convert glucose into ATP, the vital spark that energizes all living things.
Using Ketones for Fuel
However, when someone chooses a high protein diet plan, the normal chemical composition galvanizing metabolic processes adjust so that is begins utilizing ketones instead of carbohydrates. Ketones are carbon molecules generated from fat oxidation, which the body consumes for fuel when it is in this state of ketosis. The appetite reduces during ketosis, which explains why individuals eating foods high in protein lose weight. In addition, since the body is no longer depending on carbohydrates for energy, it begins to deplete those stores of fat clinging to the belly, thighs and hips.
The Diuretic Effect
A high protein diet plan also accomplishes weight loss by eliminating excess water from the body. When you consistently eat protein rich foods, especially dairy and meat items, the level of urea and uric acid in the bloodstream is elevated. These two substances are metabolic waste by products produced by the breakdown and assimilation of proteins into the body. A large amount of water needs to be pumped into the kidneys so that these toxic chemicals can be effectively flushed from the body, resulting in a diuretic reaction to considerable influx of foods high in protein.
Danger of Nutrient Deficiency
With this subsequent weight loss of fat and fluids, however, comes the potential for nutrient deficiency, especially minerals such as calcium, which is beneficial to bone health. A large protein intake tends to extract calcium from bones, which over the long term, could put a dieter at risk for osteoporosis or other bone disorders. According to the Feminist Women’s Health Center’s website, almost two milligrams of uric calcium is lost for every one additional gram of animal protein consumed while on a high protein diet plan.
The Benefits of Protein Rich Foods
Protein found in plant material, especially soy protein, is one of the healthiest protein rich foods you can eat. Foods containing soy contain no cholesterol, low amounts of saturated fat and essential fatty acids. Other advantageous of including soy in a high protein diet plan are:
- Reduction of LDL cholesterol and increase is HDL cholesterol leading to decreased risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure and triglycerides
- Enhances elasticity of blood vessels which facilitates blood flow
- Extends the feeling of satiety after a meal which reduces appetite and food intake
Additionally, the American Heart Association states that soy and foods containing soy provide significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats, minerals, vitamins and fiber, which are extremely beneficial to health. Isoflavones (phytoestrogens) are bioactive molecules found in soy protein that have been clinically tested in various research studies and found to inhibit conditions such as atherosclerosis and high cholesterol which are known to contribute to heart disease.
High Protein Foods
This partial list of high protein foods gives you an idea of what you would be eating on a high protein diet plan:
- 1/2 medium-sized duck—50 grams of protein
- 1 cup of stewed chicken—40 grams
- 1 fillet of cooked Haddock fish—36 grams
- 1 cup of roasted turkey—40 grams
- 1 cup of boiled soybeans—30 grams
- 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese—30 grams
- 3 ounces of beef chuck—25 grams
- 3 ounces of tuna fish—25 grams
- 3 ounces of ground beef, broiled—22 grams
- 1 cup of baked beans with franks—18 grams of fat
- 1 cup of split boiled peas—16 grams
- 8 ounce container of plain yogurt—13 grams
- 1 cup of white rice—13 grams
- 1 cup of lima beans—12 grams
These high protein low fat foods are just a small sample of what sort of foods you can implement in a high protein diet plan.
Using soy protein supplement powder to make protein shakes, to drink either as meal replacements or as snacks, is another method for maintaining your protein-based weight loss program. Soy in powdered form is a convenient substitute for meat protein that also provides those essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce on its own. As a nutrient containing antioxidants, soy protein eradicates cancer cells and may inhibit metastases of pre-existing cancers as well.
Because soy protein powder tastes chalky and flat, dieters that are on the high protein diet plan can take advantage of recipes for soy protein shakes but incorporate fruits, vegetables and assorted flavorings to make it more palatable.
Use a high-speed blender to mix any soy shake recipes.
Eggnog Protein Shakes
- 1 or 2 scoops of soy protein supplement powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
- 2 graham cracker squares
- 3 ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon, sugar free coffee creamer
- 1 cup of skim or soy milk
Yogurt Soy Protein Shakes
- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 cup of unsweetened soy or skim milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons of whole flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons of soy protein powder supplement
- 3 or four tablespoons of blueberries or strawberries
- Few drops of banana flavoring as an option
German Chocolate Soy Protein Shake
- 2 scoops of chocolate flavored soy protein powder
- 1 tablespoon of cream of coconut
- 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
- 5 ice cubes
- 12 ounces of water
Benefits of Whey Protein Supplement Powder
A high protein diet plan can also include whey protein supplements as a snack or meal replacement. As a rich and healthy protein powder produced from cow’s milk and the process of making cheese, whey protein contains essential amino acids as well as branched chain amino acids (BCCA), which are important to people who engage in regular strenuous exercise.
This is because the body needs large amounts of BCAA during and following a workout session due to muscles directly utilizing these amino acids before they have had a chance to be metabolized by the liver. Experiencing unusual fatigue after a particular stressful exercise session may be the result of a deficiency of BCAA in the body. Additional benefits of whey protein are delineated in a report entitled “Health Enhancing Properties of Whey Proteins and Whey Fractions” by Rosemary L. Walzem, R.D., Ph. D. Professor of Nutrition at Texas A & M University:
- Whey contains the proteins ß-lactoglobulin and ß--lactalbumi, proteose-peptones, blood proteins and lactoferrin which greatly improve immune system functioning in someone following a high protein diet plan.
- These proteins meet or exceed all essential amino acid requirements determined by the Food and Agricultural Administration and World Health Organization.
- A recently discovered active fraction found in whey protein stimulated the differentiation and growth of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. According to Dr. Walzem, if further research determines that the intestines readily absorb these components, they could be vital in helping those recover bone mass loss seen in osteoporosis.
- Whey protein contains a CCK stimulator called glycomacropeptide. Because CCK plays a role in appetite suppression, this would indicate that whey protein in a high protein diet plan does help in weight loss by directly reducing appetite
- Medical professionals consider whey protein to be of such benefit to human health that they frequently use it to treat patients carrying the HIV virus. By raising levels of glutathione (GSH), a powerful antioxidant, whey protein incorporated in a high protein diet plan fights the affects of aging on muscles as well asit should inhibit viral replication of HIV.
Nutritionists are especially interested in one branched amino acid in particular found in whey called leucine. Evidence indicating that leucine plays a vital role in metabolic and glucose regulation has been reported in an article titled “The Role of Leucine in Weight Loss Diets and Glucose Homeostasis” published in the January, 2003 edition of the Journal of Nutrition. Authors of the article assert that leucine as well as other branched chain amino acids “enhance changes in body composition with sparing of lean body mass” when applied to weight management programs, meaning that a high protein diet plan has been shown to be effective in eliminating fat stores due to ketosis in clinical studies.
When following a high protein diet plan, choosing to supplement with whey protein shakes or smoothies is an excellent choice because whey powder supplement is entirely compatible with this type of diet. Per serving whey protein only contains .5 grams of fat and less than five milligrams of cholesterol. Further, it is easily digestible and fat-soluble as well, rapidly entering the bloodstream to efficiently provide amino acids and BCAA, which nourish tissues, muscles and organs. Baby formulas often implement soy because of its ability to facilitate digestion.
Whey Protein Shakes
Because whey protein supplement powder is also somewhat tasteless, users have created recipes for shakes and smoothies made from whey.
Mint Chocolate Whey Shakes
- 1 scoop of chocolate-flavored whey protein powder
- 10 ounces of soy or skim milk
- 1/2 frozen banana, peel, cut in half and place in plastic bag before freezing
- 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
- 4 or 5 ice cubes
Fruity Whey Protein Smoothies
- 1 chunked banana
- 1 or 2 scoops of whey powdered supplement
- 3 strawberries
- 1/4 cup of blueberries
- 1/2 cup of skim or soy milk
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup of crushed ice
Banana Bread Whey Protein Shakes
- 2 scoops of vanilla whey powder
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup of plain cooked Quaker oatmeal
- 3/4 cup of cereal bran flakes
- 16 ounces of water
- Sugar or artificial sweetener to taste
The Atkins High Protein Diet Plan
Initiated by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1970s, the Atkins high protein diet operates to produce the previously mentioned condition of ketosis in the body by restricting carbohydrate intake to no more than 60 grams each day and allowing the dieter to consume a considerable amount of natural fat and protein. According to Dr. Atkins, a state of ketosis is reached when carb gram intake is no more than 40 grams per day. Interestingly most people consume over 300 carbohydrate grams each day.
In addition, the Atkins high protein diet plan proposes to satisfy food cravings by allowing dieters to eat tastier, more nutritious foods rather than the bland, unsatisfying foods frequently associated with diets for quick weight loss. Because carbohydrate levels are reduced, blood sugar levels decrease as well, which defeats hunger pangs and prevents food cravings from sabotaging a diet.
This high protein diet plan is constructed using four stages, with each ensuing stage incorporating additional carbohydrate grams. During the stage one and two, dieters often report weight losses of sometimes more than five pounds each week. Stage three is referred to as the “ongoing weight loss stage” in which dieters are allowed to deviate a bit from the original list of high-carbohydrate foods considered taboo. Eventually, the fourth and final stage is supposed to provide the dieter with an idea of how many carb grams he or she can eat without gaining weight.
Dr. Atkins also states that dieters following his high protein diet plan may also experience a reduction in:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Possible decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Difficulty sleeping may vanish as well due to regulation of blood sugar levels, which can be elevated when consuming excess carbohydrates.
High Protein Diet Plan Recipes for the Atkins Diet
High Protein Chicken Soup
- 1 can of chicken broth, low-salt
- 1/2 cup of cooked chicken, cubed
- 1/2 cup of rice or egg-white noodles
- 1/4 cup of frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 scoop of soy or whey protein powder
- Salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder to taste
Atkins Diet Egg Salad
- 8 hard boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of mustard (any flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/4cup of finely diced celery
High Protein Diet Plan Trail Mix Bars
- 1 cup of crunchy peanut butter (low sodium)
- 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
- 2 cups of packed brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of flour (less two tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 scoop of soy or whey protein powder
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup of unsalted pumpkin seeds
After mixing all the ingredients together, spread the mixture onto a greased cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
A typical Atkins high protein diet plan breakfast might consist of eggs served in any manner such as omelets, French toast, crepes, or scrambled; skim milk; yogurt; turkey bacon; sausage and breakfast cereals. For those who are late for work and in a hurry, a protein smoothie can provide a quick and protein-rich breakfast:
Low-Carbohydrate-High Protein Smoothie Recipe
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of soy or whey protein powder
- 5 strawberries
- 8 pitted cherries
- 5 slices of fresh peaches
- 1/2 banana
- 1 cup of skim or soy milk or orange juice can be used as a substitute
Mix at medium speed in a blender, adding the protein powder supplement a little at a time
Low Protein Diets
Alternatively, a diet incorporating low protein foods is supposed to benefit individuals who suffer from liver or kidney disease. Since protein harbors a nitrogen content of around 15%, having an optimally functioning liver and kidney is essential, so the body can effectively eliminate this potentially toxic nitrogen excess from the blood through urine output. A low protein diet also reduces ammonia and nitrogen metabolites in the body which a defective kidney or liver may not be able to process. If this nitrogen accumulates in the body, symptoms such as nausea, weakness, headaches, tiredness and appetite loss could occur. Consuming a diet of low protein foods emphasizes carbohydrate calories rather than protein calories so weight loss will not occur when following this type of diet.
Best Proteins Supplements
Faithfully following a high protein diet plan requires planning meals, counting carb grams, counting protein grams and making sure you are consuming the optimal amounts of both for the fastest weight loss. While the best protein supplements are convenient, nutritious and rich in protein, such as whey and soy powders, protein bars also offer a quick and effective way to maintain your protein requirements. In addition, homemade protein bars are the best kind to supplement other protein foods included in your diet plan because you know what ingredients are used in making the bars. Some commercial protein bars may contain small but significant amounts of sugar or artificial preservatives that can upset the balance of proteins and carbs in your high protein diet plan.
High Protein Low Carbohydrate Protein Bar
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of cream
- 3/4 cup of chocolate flavored whey protein powder
- 1 cup of chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut
- 1 square of baker’s chocolate
Melt the cream, butter and chocolate in the microwave, and then add coconut, protein powder and nuts. Add enough warm water to make a workable mixture and spread it over a loaf or cake pan. Chill for one hour.
Hazelnut Protein Bar
- 1/2 cup of canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of wheat flour
- 1/4 cup of wheat germ
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 1/2 cups of whole oats
- 1 cup of chopped hazelnuts
Potential Health Problems Associated with a High Protein Diet Plan
As with any diet that adopts an intensely narrow focus on a certain vitamin, mineral or other nutrient, possible health risks exists for some individuals who follow a high protein, low-carb diet. Minor side effects reported by dieters following high protein diet plan include:
- Unpleasant breath or body odor due to accumulation of ketones in the body
- Risk of elevated blood lipid levels, due to consumption of animal rather than plant protein
- Experiencing symptoms of mineral or vitamin deficiency, especially from lack of vitamin C, B and E
- Gallbladder issues
- Episodes of “fuzzy” thinking or difficulty in concentrating
- Dizziness, light-headedness
- Depression or general malaise
- Menstrual irregularities
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Subjects participating in a research study who followed a high protein diet plan for one year reported these symptoms. Findings were published online by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in May of 2004 on their website PCRM.org. Other more serious side effects disclosed in self-reports were kidney infections, heart arrhythmia, gout, neuropathy and osteoporosis.
However, researchers suggest that some of these medical conditions emerging after subjects began the high protein diet plan may have been previously undetected and possibly exacerbated by the abrupt change in diet and nutritional elements consumed.
Tips for Following a High Protein Diet Plan
- Remember to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and facilitate digestion
- Eat small meals, around five or six if possible, each day rather than two or three large ones
- Seafood is an excellent source for protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids
- Olive oil and corn oil contain little carbohydrates, as well as onion, garlic and green herb seasonings
- When engaging in regular exercise, dieters may have to increase carbohydrate intake to prevent fatigue and energy loss
- Not eating enough will reduce metabolism and cause the body to go into “starvation mode”. Make sure you are eating enough but not too much to maintain a steady rate of fat and calorie oxidation.
- Once your body is in active ketosis, do not take diuretics to try and quicken weight loss; losing too much fluid will only slow the fat burning process and could cause severe dehydration
- If you are on any prescribed medications, ask your doctor about any possible side effects caused by following a high protein diet plan before actually starting the program or any other diets for quick weight loss.
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