Do High Protein, Low Carb Diets Work?


Do High Protein, Low Carb Diets Work?

IMG_1349As a personal trainer, I have encountered many clients who have tried numerous diets in the pursuit of losing weight.  One type of diet that many clients ask me about is high protein, low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet.  Do these diets work?

Before I answer this question it is important to understand how the body loses fat.  In order to lose fat, you must create a caloric deficit.  This means that you must reduce the amount of calories you consume or increase the amount of daily activity you perform (or both) compared to the calories burned in order to lose fat.  Increasing physical activity and decreasing calories triggers a hormone in the body known as lipase.  Lipase is responsible for breaking down stored fat resulting in weight loss.  Basically, in order to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than you use during the day for fuel.

So do high protein, low carbohydrate diets work?  Initially, people on these types of diet will see a rapid reduction in weight on the scale but it is not a decrease in fat.  Usually a high protein, low carbohydrate diet consists of proteins that are high in fat.  When a diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, the body will quickly lose water.  Eventually, the body will burn fat on these types of diets due to the fact that carbohydrates are the bodies preferred source for energy and a decrease in carbohydrates forces the body to burn fat.  But eliminating carbohydrates from the diet for long periods of time also has negative consequences and side effects.

The body can go into an unhealthy metabolic state called ketosis.  When the body has been deprived of carbohydrates for too long it is forced to burn dietary fat and protein producing a byproduct in the body called ketones.  An accumulation of ketones can cause damage to internal organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver.  There is also the danger of nutritional deficiencies from not consuming enough fruits, vegetables or grains which provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  A reduction or elimination of carbohydrates can cause your body to actually lose muscle as well.  A lack of carbohydrates with a high increase in protein causes the body to lower the amount of protein it stores due to the fact that the body is burning protein for fuel and energy.

The best approach to achieve fat loss for a better looking physique is to follow and sustain a low calorie, balanced diet that consists of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Remember that the most successful way to achieve and maintain your ideal weight is to eat a diet that is not temporary but one that you can incorporate into your daily lifestyle.

For more information about high protein, low carb diets, building muscle, losing fat, or if you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer, contact us.


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