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Ditching the foods you love can be an overwhelming thought when thinking about trying a low carb high protein diet. Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes as a side staple with a good steak on the grill, or a mound of pasta at your favorite Italian restaurant? In reality, there are many other good choices that will maintain your weight loss plan, as well as completely satisfy your favorite cravings. Let’s take a look at which low carbohydrate/high protein diet plan is best for you.

The right way : Low carb high protein diet

You’re probably thinking, what are carbohydrates and how can reducing them help me lose weight? Carbohydrates come in many different forms; grains, rice, pasta, crackers, cereals, vegetables and fruit. They are the basic fuel to energize your body. The word “carbohydrate” comes from the fact that glucose is made up of carbon and water. Low-carb diets generally limit the dieter to between 20 and 100 grams of carbohydrate per day, considerably below the general recommendation of 225 to 325 grams of carbs for someone eating 2,000 calories per day. Carbohydrates are not the only substances the body uses for energy, you also use protein and fat for fuel. Protein is found in red meats, poultry/fish and dairy, which are also higher in fat than carbohydrates. Your body also uses fat for additional fuel.  If you consume more carbohydrates than your body needs, it stores some of those carbs as glycogen in the liver and muscles and the remainder as fat. The main idea behind this type of eating is to decrease your intake of carbohydrates, and increase your intake of proteins, good carbohydrates (high-fiber vegetables) and fat. How does eating more fat allow you to lose weight?

Fiber

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. It all has to do with watching your blood sugar levels, some carbohydrates have a high impact on these sugar levels, while others have a minimal one. By regulating your blood sugar levels, you are able to regulate your appetite. Therefore, low carbohydrate eaters follow a much different road map for eating then your typical food pyramid. There is never a lack of information covered on every food label out on every product you indulge. It’s the “net carbs” that every person has to watch when counting carbohydrates in their food. Most carbohydrate turns to glucose when digested.  Glucose, which is also called “blood sugar” and “dextrose,” flows in the bloodstream so that it is available to every cell in your body. Your cells absorb glucose and convert it into energy to the cells. Fiber is technically a carbohydrate, but it’s not digested. For low-carb dieters, fiber carbohydrates don’t count as carbs to watch out for. To calculate the net, or effective, carbohydrate content of a food, subtract the number of grams of fiber from the number of grams of carbohydrate. Therefore, it’s the net carbohydrates that actually have an impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. Watch out for myths when eating a low carb/high protein diet, you may miss out on some awesome recipes you didn’t even know you could enjoy.

Where’s the protein? : Low carb high protein diet

When embarking on a high protein diet, it is important to obtain your protein from multiple sources. How much protein do you need on a low carb/high protein diet? Experts advise consuming between 0.5 grams and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. That’s 70 grams to 140 grams a day for a 140-pound woman. Proteins are essential nutrients, found inside every cell in the body. They are used for growth and maintenance, including tissue and muscle repair (muscle-building), and play a role an important role as an energy source.  Here is a short list of high protein foods:

  • Lean, red meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Chicken (no skin)
  • Dairy such as milk (raw is great, but that’s another article), yogurt and cheese
  • Beans such as lentils, peas, kidney beans and soy beans (non-GMO)
  • Soy products like tofu and soy milk  (non-GMO)
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and peanuts

To assure you are creating a well balanced diet, you need to include fruits and vegetables as well. Most vegetables are low in fat and carbohydrates and much be eaten regularly. However, you may wish to avoid vegetables that are higher in carbohydrates such as potatoes, carrots, beets, peas, squashes, parsnips, sweet potatoes and corn.

Protein supplements

In an ideal world, you can get all your protein from food, and some people actually do… for the rest of us, protein powders are great.  According to the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition), protein shakes are a safe way to ensure enough protein, when used as part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.  Four great powdered options are;

Dairy  (whey and casein)
Whey is the most popular protein on the market.  It assimilates quickly and tastes great.  Casein is a slower acting protein.  You can find products where these 2 are isolated or blended.

Pea
Pea is a vegetable-based protein extracted from yellow peas is easily digested. Taste can be a challenge.

Soy protein
Soy comes from soybeans of course.   Soy is almost as popular as whey, just make sure it’s made with non-GMO soy.

Rice
Rice is another great vegetarian source of protein that is gaining popularity.  Like pea however, the taste is not for everyone.

Spirulina
A green superfood that is also super high in protein.

Blends
There are lots of great products like Almased, that blend two or more of the above.

As you can see, you do not have to go without your favorite foods or starve yourself to maintain a low carb high protein diet for weight loss. There are many alternatives to a healthy, well balanced diet, along with fun alternatives for achieving a high protein diet for weight loss.  As always, please consult with your physician before starting any changes in eating habits or diet plans.

About the Author: Tom Hines is the Co-Founder of NutritionGeeks.com, a retired USAPL powerlifter, a volunteer youth wrestling coach, the father of 3 amazing boys and interested in all things health.

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