If you've been working out, or trying to lose weight, for any length of time you are probably pretty familiar with the concept of a high-protein, low-carb diet.
But what are the benefits of this popular diet? What exactly does it mean?
Most importantly, how can you successfully follow this eating pattern?
What Are We Talking About?
Before we really get into all the details here, it's important to we make it clear exactly what we're discussing. The term “high-protein diet” is, after all, a touch vague.
The basic requirements simply state that about 10 percent of our daily calories need to come from protein for us to survive and be free of any ill effects. So, is anything higher than 10 percent “high?” Not quite.
Remember that that 10 percent represents the absolute minimum and is really only adequate if you're mostly sedentary. But, of course, you're not. The real-world recommendations for protein range from 10-35 percent of your daily caloric intake. And, it's important to note, most studies that show benefits from “high-protein diets” use intakes that account for about 30-35 percent.
Now, you may have noticed at the outset that we mentioned not just a “high protein” diet, but also a low carb one, as well.
Typically, the studies showing benefits of high protein diets also used a greatly reduced carbohydrate intake – although the exact proportions vary widely.
When you consider, however, that the standard intake of carbohydrates is about 50 percent of daily caloric intake it's not really that hard to reduce it. Usually, carbs drop down to about 30-35 percent.
So, then, what do we mean when we reference a high-protein, low-carb diet?
This refers to a pattern of eating that is roughly 30-35 percent protein and carbohydrates, with fat filling in the rest. Again, though, the exact numbers can vary.
Up to this point, however, we've only mentioned the benefits of this diet – we haven't actually explained them. Let's take care of that.
Protein, as you may be aware, provides the amino acids needed to build just about every structure in your body – including hormones and cells. And, of course, protein is the main ingredient of muscles.
Each time you exercise, you damage your muscles, sending your body in a frenzy to rebuild them bigger and stronger. Protein gives your body the raw materials to carry out that work.
But a high-protein diet will do more than just help your body build muscle. Protein has also been shown to aid in weight loss but both speeding up your metabolism and suppressing your appetite.
Limiting your carbohydrate intake will also help you lose weight by preventing spikes in insulin and the resulting blood sugar crash – which can contribute to food cravings and weight gain.
Getting It Done
The problem, however, can be meeting those elevated protein requirements in a healthy way. When it comes to protein, we need to consider what sort of package it comes in.
Many protein sources, for example are full of fats as well. And fat is extremely high in calories – containing about 9 calories per gram – meaning that it can easily top off your daily caloric allowance before your protein needs are met.
Lean proteins, then, are key. But chowing down on chicken breast and tuna all down every day can be... inconvenient, to say the least. Keeping a quality, grass-fed whey protein on hand could be the solution.
A natural source of complete protein that contains very little fat, whey protein can help to quickly fill in the gaps of your diet without taking tons of time to prepare.