(Updated at Mar 25 / 2023)
Benefits and risks of a protein diet - the best alternative for weight loss
The basis of the protein diet is mainly food with high protein content (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs). The use of fruits and vegetables is allowed, but in small quantities and with a low carbohydrate content. You can eat almost as much protein as you want and not feel constant hunger, but you will have to severely limit your intake of carbohydrates, which are the main source of energy.
The most common protein diets are Ducan diet and Atkins diet. Their principle is the same - eating a lot of protein and a minimum of carbohydrates.
The essence of protein diets is to create "carbohydrate starvation": in this case, the body begins to use the reserves of subcutaneous fat as an energy source, simultaneously removing excess fluid. Metabolism changes after 10 days of protein nutrition, so the body quickly gains harmony. The main advantage of protein nutrition is a variety of menus and rapid weight loss without feeling hungry. The lost pounds usually do not return, as is the case with other diets. The protein diet is good and effective, but you cannot repeat it until after a year. First of all, it is a very restrictive diet. And secondly, the second time it may simply do not work.
With these diets, not everything is as beautiful as it seems at first glance. Before deciding on such a diet, you need to consider all the pros and cons of high-protein diet.
Pros of a high-protein diet
According to many nutritionists, a protein diet has a sufficient number of advantages, among which the main advantages can be distinguished:
- Lack of hunger;
- Weight loss occurs not due to muscle mass loss, but due to fat loss.
- A protein diet is well suited for people with an active lifestyle.
- Weight loss occurs quickly enough, and the lost pounds do not return soon. In most cases, in 2 weeks, from 3 to 8 kg (6-17 lbs) is lost, depending on body weight.
Cons of a high-protein diet
Despite the advantages, there are also a considerable number of disadvantages:
- It is a very unbalanced diet.
- It lacks many vitamins, fatty acids and trace elements which contribute to the appearance of an unhealthy complexion, poor sleep, fatigue, brittle nails, dry skin, and dull hair. In this case, even taking vitamins from jars will not correct the situation since many of them are fat-soluble and, in its absence, they are not absorbed (e.g., D, E, K, A vitamins).
- The diet renders a heavy load on the kidneys. The more protein you eat, the more active the kidneys are, and the more the body loses fluid. Nutritionists recommend drinking more mineral water during protein diets.
- During a high-protein diet, a lot of calcium is consumed by the body systems, so it is recommended to take it additionally.
- A large amount of protein increases blood clotting, as a result of which blood clots can appear in the blood vessels. Therefore, this diet is not recommended for the elderly and those who have problems with the cardiovascular system.
- The diet is contraindicated for people suffering from pancreatitis, colitis, dysbiosis (imbalance of intestinal flora), and gout.
- A large amount of protein and almost complete absence of vegetables containing essential fiber, can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive tract.
Nutritionist Margaret Keller from the Women Wellness Centre, London, UK, says that it is better not to choose any restrictive diet. “It can provide fast results but seriously damage your health. The price for a quick weight loss can be too high – you will have to work on restoring your health for months or even years spending money on doctors, multiple tests, and drugs”- she points out. Keller says that it is better to seek the help of a professional nutritionist who will create a balanced eating plan for you individually. If you don’t have this possibility – stick to the main principles of healthy eating:
1. Your plate should consist of 50% vegetables, 25% protein and fats (one product can contain both, e.g. fatty fish provides both healthy fat and protein), 25% carbohydrates (it is better to opt for slow carbs, i.e. whole grain brad, pasta, etc.).
2. Calculate the number of calories you should consume per day taking into account your activity level using an online calculator or an app. You need to cut around 15%-20% of your current calorie consumption to lose weight safely and steadily.
3. Increase your physical activity.
If you want to boost your weight loss in a healthy and safe way, you can also use the FDA-approved weight loss drug Orlistat. The medication is prescribed for people with a BMI 27 or higher. Its effect is based on the reduction of fat absorption in the small intestine. You can read the information about the drug’s effect, dosage, and side effects on the product page. You can buy it without a prescription from our online drugstore but please consult your doctor first.