Low Carb High Protein Diets Explained

The Atkins Diet, The Zone, Sonoma and South Beach Diet, sound familiar? Regardless of the name these are all technically variations of the same trend, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. Promoted in great lengths these diets recommend 30% to 50% of the dieters’ total calories be consumed in the form of protein, while stressing removal or drastic reduction of carbohydrate consumption.

The American Heart Association, the National Cholesterol Education Program, and the American Cancer Society have suggested that fewer calories are received from protein. Low carb/high protein diets are considered to provide the body with nutrients deemed essential to building, maintenance, and repair of body tissue.

So, How Do Low Carb/High Protein Diets Work?

Low carb/high protein diets center on limiting carbohydrates to only a small portion of what Americans typically eat. Restricting the intake of carbohydrates encourages the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state the body burns its own fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, as it normally would. A body in ketosis receives energy from ketones, which is the fuel created by the breakdown of small carbon fragments. This leads to the breakdown of fat stores. A person in ketosis is likely to feel less hungry, consequentially eating less than usual. However, ketosis can also cause serious health problems.

A diet low in carbohydrates results in your body changing from being a carbohydrate-burning engine into a fat-burning engine. Instead of wanting to tap into carbohydrate-rich stores, the body uses your stored fat as a primary energy source. This in turn results in weight loss, which can occur quite rapidly.

Low-carb diets like Atkins, Zone, Sonoma and South Beach suppress hunger better than traditional diets because protein-rich foods satisfy the appetite better than carbohydrates or fats. Restricting carbohydrates eliminates often-indulged foods such as bread, cereal, soft drinks, French fries and pizza.  Daily caloric intake can be reduced by approximately 500 calories per day simply by following a low carb/high protein diet. Water loss accounts for a large amount of the early rapid decreases in bodyweight and uses up carbohydrate stores in your muscles and liver.

Unfortunately, high-protein diets can cause a number of health problems, including, but not limited to the 5 listed below:

1 – Kidney failure.

Processing protein-rich foods puts an added strain on the kidneys, which makes them susceptible to kidney disease.

2 – High cholesterol.

High protein diets usually contain of red meats, whole dairy products, and other foods high in fat content, all of which are directly linked to high cholesterol. Studies have linked high cholesterol levels to an elevated risk of developing heart disease, stroke and cancer.

3 – Osteoporosis and kidney stones.

High protein diets can cause people to eliminate more calcium than normal through their urine. Over extended periods of time, this can increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones.

4 – Cancer.

Our body derives vitamins, minerals, fiber as well as antioxidants from foods containing carbohydrates. By avoiding carbs, you are depriving your body of these essential elements. Obtaining protein from a variety of foods is also very important. Eating whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables will ensure your need for protein is met, but will also help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

5 – Unhealthy metabolic state (ketosis).

Low carb diets can cause ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of glucose for energy. This could result in potential organ failure or other problems such as gout, kidney stones, or kidney failure. Additionally, ketones can lessen a person’s appetite, and cause nausea and bad breath. Ketosis can be prevented by eating no less than 100 grams of carbohydrates a day.

It is always wise to talk with your doctor before starting any diet; together you can determine what approach is right for you. A low-carb/high protein diet may be right for you, but will likely require you to see your doctor periodically for check-ups. A low carb/high protein diet may be popular, but your doctor may recommend another one best suited for your needs. Following your doctor’s advice could save your life.

Have you tried any of the mentioned low-carb diets? Did you have successful results? What was the biggest challenge you faced following this diet?

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