Low Fat High Protein Diet

Overview

A low fat high protein diet is high in lean proteins and healthy, low-fat foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is similar to the low-carb, high-protein diet except that it allows reasonable portions of good carbohydrates rather than strictly eliminating them altogether.

Benefits

Diets high in protein have been found to greatly stimulate fast weight loss.

One reason for this may be that foods rich in protein tend to make dieters feel full and satiated after a meal. This curbs appetite and reduces the likelihood of over-eating and snacking later. Protein also assists in muscle development, boosts metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar while foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels.

Another reason diets rich in protein may stimulate weight loss is that it takes more calories to digest protein than to burn carbohydrates and fats.

Drawbacks

The American Heart Association does not recommend long-term use of a high-protein diet. They believe these diets prevent the consumption of certain foods containing essential vitamins and minerals. Some individuals also cannot use and digest high amounts of protein effectively which can increase the risk of kidney and liver problems.

Red meat, in particular, contains high amounts of saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in a diet can lead to cardiovascular diseases, so these foods should be eaten in limited quantities. Similarly, the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund report recommends limiting processed meat as much as possible and to stick with the fresh, organic versions of these foods.

 

Recommendations

The dietary recommendation for following a low fat high protein diet is eating balanced meals that are: 20 percent healthy fat, 35 percent protein and 45 percent good carbohydrates.

As an alternative to red meat, choose poultry and fish. Oil-rich fish such as salmon, tuna and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Shellfish and eggs are also excellent low-fat, high-protein foods.

Other low-fat sources of protein include nuts, seeds, beans and soy products. It is also important to eat plenty of “good carbohydrate” foods, such as high-fiber whole-grain products and certain fruits and vegetables.

References

Journal of the American Heart Association, Dietary Protein and Weight Reduction, October 2001

Department of Nutrition, Arizona State University, High-protein low-fat diets are effective for weight loss and favorably alter biomarkers in healthy adults, March 2004

BBC, Healthy Living, Healthy Protein

 


Beau Giannini
Beau Giannini

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