Dozens of scientific studies say that low carb/high protein diets can help with weight loss without resorting to starvation. This article is about the benefits of following the low-carb/high-protein diet (sometimes called LCHP or LCHP for short). Additionally, its the potential to be used in combination with intermittent fasting. Low-carb/high-protein diets have the most scientific research showing they are effective for weight loss. This approach is however based on the concept of ketosis. In ketosis, the body uses stored body fat for energy because there are no carbohydrates available. A meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled studies concluded that dietary interventions resulting in ketosis were effective for reducing weight by an average of 2.2 kg (5lbs).
A low-carbohydrate diet is a special type of diet that restricts carbohydrate consumption. On low-carbohydrate diets, the majority of calories come from protein and fat. There are two types of low-carb diets: a very low carbohydrate diet (VLCD) and a moderate carbohydrate diet (MCD).
A VLCD consists mainly of fat, protein, and a small number of carbohydrates, but a large number of unsaturated fats from fish oils. The MCD consists mainly of carbohydrates with little to no fat or protein.
Low-carb diets have been gaining popularity for a while. In general, they’re referred to as carbohydrate-restricted diets. People on this type of diet avoid or reduce carbohydrate intake, usually by a large margin.
On low-carbohydrate diets, you eat more protein and fat while getting your carbs from vegetables and some fruit instead of grains.
Benefits of a Low-Carb/High-Protein diet:
Weight Loss is Easier
A low-carbohydrate diet will probably help you lose weight. The reason for this is that when you reduce your consumption of carbohydrates it forces your body to burn fat for energy. Hence, more of the calories we ingest go towards the energy we need, and less is stored as fat.
Low-Carb Diets help Control Hunger and Cravings
Since carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy, limiting the number of carbs you eat reduces your glucose levels and shifts your body to a state of ketosis. In other words, a low-carb diet helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, which can both help you lose weight. This is also why on a low-carbohydrate diet, you tend to eat less. Low carb diets are more likely to help with weight loss than the average high carb diet. Hence, they’re more effective at helping you feel full.
Low-Carb Diets are Easier on Your Gut (i.e. leaky gut)
If you’re low-carb, then you’re likely to be eating fewer carbs, which is a known cause of leaky gut. A diet that keeps carbohydrates in check is helpful in repairing the damage that leaky gut has done to the lining of our intestines. This can improve your digestive health and lead to weight loss.
Low-Carb Diets Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
A low-carb diet is better than a high-carbohydrate diet at controlling insulin. Insulin is a hormone responsible for converting glucose to energy inside of your body. Hence, diets low in carbohydrates lower insulin levels more effectively than high carbohydrate diets. Therefore, If you have diabetes, then a low-carb diet will improve your blood sugar balance.
Low-Carb Diets are more Satiating
A low-carbohydrate diet can help improve satiety levels. Many people experience more intense feelings of fullness on a low-carb diet unless they are eating more carbs than they are supposed to be.
Low-Carb Diets can help Deal with Inflammatory Conditions
Several scientific studies have linked low-carb diets to less inflammation in the body, which is potentially helpful for dealing with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
As mentioned above, constipation is also less of an issue on a low-carb diet. Why? Because high-fiber vegetables are part of the bulk of your overall carbohydrate intake. Hence, increase the volume of crap you’re making in the toilet so, if you’re not dealing with too many trips to the bathroom then that’s good news!
Low-Carb Diets can help Manage Chronic Conditions
The same studies that link low carb diets to less inflammation, also show that this approach is helpful for managing symptoms of chronic illnesses.
Low-Carb Diets Increase your HDL (good) Cholesterol Level while Decreasing your LDL (bad) Cholesterol Level
It is worth mentioning here that while low carb diets are beneficial in many ways, you should keep an eye on other measures too. Low-carb diets can sometimes decrease HDL cholesterol levels, which is something to be cautious about if you already have a low HDL-cholesterol level.
Low-Carb Diets make a Person more Insulin Sensitive
Insulin sensitivity is your body’s ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and turn it into energy for your cells to use. This means that if you’re insulin sensitive then you’re less likely to suffer from chronic inflammation, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.
Low-Carb Diets are less likely to cause Acidosis
Acidosis is a disorder that affects the body’s pH balance, which can cause all kinds of problems, including the opposite of weight loss. Low carb diets increase your insulin sensitivity, which can help you avoid acidosis.
Low-Carb Dieters are less likely to be Defeated by Sugar Cravings
As mentioned earlier, people tend to eat less when they’re on a low-carb diet, which is why it’s easier to lose weight. But there’s also another reason you might find it easier to conquer your sugar cravings by following this type of diet: Your body is not producing as much insulin. Therefore, It takes insulin to metabolize sugar. So if you’re less sensitive to insulin, then it’s easier for your body to process sugar.
Low-Carb Diets help you Sustain Energy Levels
Low-carb diets tend to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can help avoid debilitating drops in energy that often come after eating high-carb meals. Therefore, low-carb dieters tend to experience more stable energy levels than their carbohydrate-eating counterparts.
Low-Carb Diets can Improve your Mental Clarity
Mental clarity is often the first thing to go when you start eating a high-carb diet, mainly because carbs can cause blood sugar swings. Therefore, it makes you feel foggy and mentally confused. The less sugar in your diet, the more clear-minded you’ll feel.
Low-Carb Diets are great for Diabetics
Low-carb diets are particularly effective for people with type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of this disease.
Who should not do a Low-Carb/HIgh-Protein Diet:
- Those who have a medical condition that might be aggravated by a low-carb diet.
- Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Those who are very active or athletic.
- Those who have a medical condition that requires them to eat a lot of carbohydrates to avoid complications from their medical condition.
- Those who have a history of disordered eating patterns (i.e., anorexia nervosa, binge eaters, compulsive overeaters).
- Meat and Fish: Beef, Turkey, Chicken, and other poultry (duck, quail, etc.), fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), seafood (crab).
- Eggs: Both the yolk and egg whites are allowed. They make for a great breakfast omelet with spinach and cheese.
- Dairy Products: Milk (whole milk), cottage cheese, feta cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, unsweetened yogurt, ice cream.
- Vegetables: Leafy greens (romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula ), cruciferous veggies ( broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower ), green beans, asparagus.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Avocado: Very low in digestible carbohydrates and high in healthy fats. ¼ Avocado makes for a great sandwich or salad topping. 3 slices of avocado are allowed per day.
Let-Downs of Low-Carb/High-Protein Diet:
- If you have a history of disordered eating patterns it can be harder to stick to a low-carb diet.
- It’s harder to lose weight on a low-carb diet, especially if you’re having protein at every meal.
- You may feel lethargic or crash within the first few days of starting this kind of diet. Eventually, crash even more as your body learns how to process lower carbs and insulin sensitivity improves.
- You may feel like you’re “doing something wrong” since you’ve been taught for your entire life that carbs are good for you and fats are bad. This feeling can be overwhelming since those messages tend to come from well-meaning health experts, family members, and perhaps even friends.
- You may find it challenging to find the right balance of protein and carbs at each meal as there is no official guideline as to how much protein and carbohydrates we should take per day.
In a nutshell, a low-carb/high-protein diet is the most effective way to lose fat and maintain optimal weight. It is necessary for each individual to consult his/her doctor before starting any diet. Any information contained in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your personal physician.