• Firas Aouinet

High-Protein, Low-Carb Diet Overview


I love protein. I love it so much it hurts. I can never get enough of it. If a food contains a high amount of protein, I eat it. Proteins are the muscles' building blocks among other vital functions such as transporting and storing nutrients, and blistering the immune system.


It's a no-brainer that bodybuilders, athletes, and generally people are aiming to be fit and look aesthetically good (beach body) would choose a high-protein, low-carb diet as their way to simultaneously pack on muscle and lose weight.


This is no rocket science; this diet translates into an increased protein intake paired with a decrease in carbohydrates consumption, which also means a quasi-high fat intake. It’s not technically a keto diet, but close enough.


The general consensus around this diet is that weight loss is not about cutting the carbs and adding protein, but about eating less calories than what your body needs. A diet could consist of strictly eating pizza but if the caloric intake is less than the daily need, losing weight is imminent.


Research has shown that, as mentioned before, that protein and fat make the body feel fuller quickly, lessening the amount of consumed food in the process.

There are no magic numbers or strict intervals to confine the percentage of protein embedded in the diet, but it is recommended to keep the carbs intake beneath 50 grams. Depriving the body of its favorite source of energy (glucose), pushes the body to look for alternative sources of energy and those are proteins and fats through a reaction called gluconeogenesis (protein/fat ===> glucose).




Benefits


Favoring the consumption of plant-based protein over red-meat based protein is beneficial for the body. Proteins found in legumes, such as soy, lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and raises the good cholesterol (HDL) levels. As a result, the body has a lower risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. 


Also, vegetable-based protein helps with calcium retention and lessens its excretion in urine which, in return, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and developing kidney problems.


Moreover, it is a great way to increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance occurs after the over-consumption of carbs over an extended period of time. A high-protein, low-carb diet cuts back on the carbs resulting in less insulin being released into the blood stream and thus blood sugar is regulated, and insulin sensitivity is re-gained. This is known to be helpful with individuals having type 2 diabetes. 


Furthermore, a high-protein diet is a great way for athletes/individuals looking to gaintain (maintain/gain muscle mass while losing fat) to get faster results. 


Disadvantages


For individuals who are not athletes and are not pursuing muscle gain, this diet could be detrimental on a higher scale than what it would be for athletes or people seeking to build muscle mass. Research says that 0.36 grams of protein per body pound (using ideal weight) is the needed amount. In other words, to find out how much grams of protein needed for consumption, an individual would have to multiply his ideal body weight by 0.36. There are exceptions to this rule, individuals who need a slightly higher protein intake: Infants, children, pregnant and nursing women.  In other words, this could be damaging to your wallet as well as to the next few things.


Over-consumption of red meat elevates the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. See, beef, lamb, bison, etc. Contain fats other than protein. These are usually LDL cholesteral, as known as the bad cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is the main culprit in clogging up arteries increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes.


Another drawback is water loss. One might wonder why would it be a bad thing, especially that competing bodybuilder would opt for losing water weight to look more vascular and jacked. Well, water loss could be mistaken for weight loss. If a caloric deficit is not achieved, one might feel like losing weight while it is not actually the case.


With a high protein intake (specifically from meat and dairy products) would elevate the levels of uric acid and urea (toxic by-products of protein metabolism) in the system. To flush out the toxins, the body pumps water in the kidneys. As a result, minerals are flushed out too, including calcium. This is problematic since the high protein intake causes calcium to be leeched out from bones which leads to osteoporosis. 


From that point onward, the leeched calcium (and other additional minerals) are deposited in the kidneys which eventually could cause kidney stones.



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