Protein diet: its effect on the body, how to lose weight and what not to eat

Protein diet: its effect on the body, how to lose weight and what not to eat


A protein diet is a relatively simple and cheap way to lose weight. The essence of the diet, what you can eat, the menu for the day, how many calories to consume, who is contraindicated - in the material of RIA Novosti.

Protein diet: its effect on the body, how to lose weight and what not to eat

Protein diet

A protein diet is a diet based on eating foods that are high in protein and lower in fat and carbohydrates.

In the late 1970s, it became popular with the Scarsdale Diet, which recommended a 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 34.5% carbohydrate meal plan. Modern programs focused on high protein intake include the Atkins, Kremlin, Hollywood, Ducan diets, and others.

What is protein

Proteins are large, complex molecules that play an important role in the body. They perform most of the work in cells, which are necessary for building the structure and regulating the functions of tissues and organs.

Proteins are made up of hundreds of smaller elements - amino acids - linked together in a chain. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make protein. Their sequence determines the unique three-dimensional structure of each protein and its specific function.

Protein diet: its effect on the body, how to lose weight and what not to eat

Examples of protein functions:

1- Proteins-immunoglobulins support immunity, fight against pathogens and foreign substances in the human body.

2- Protein enzymes (for example, phenylalanine hydroxylase) carry out almost all chemical reactions that take place in cells. They also help the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in the DNA.

3- Messenger proteins, such as certain types of hormones (growth hormone), transmit signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs.

4- As structural components of the human body, they provide cellular support (actin).

5- As they transport and store, proteins bind and transfer atoms, small molecules within cells and throughout the body (ferritin).


A protein diet can actually help you lose weight if you do it right. The diet is very varied and includes a large selection of different foods: meat, fish, nuts, eggs, vegetables. This method of losing weight does not require fasting, its principle is more protein and less carbohydrates and fats. By reducing the intake of these macronutrients, a person forces the body to use its own fat reserves. An important point: a protein diet implies the presence in the daily diet of a certain amount of carbohydrates and fats since their complete absence is harmful to health.

Protein rate

"Protein dieters recommend aiming for 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 25-35% of calories from protein, to ensure adequate protein intake. 30 to 40 grams per meal for women, and 35 to 50 grams for men if you have three meals. If a person is physically very active, over 50 years old, or most of the protein comes from plant sources, a protein intake level of more than 1.6 grams per kilogram per day is justified.

According to the World Health Organization, the rate of protein per kilogram of body weight is at least 0.83 grams per day. Moreover, 50% of this amount should fall on animal protein, since only it contains all the amino acids necessary for the body in optimal quantities.

Protein Diet Principles

The basic principles of a protein diet are to:

1- Include protein in every meal (lean beef, chicken, pork), fill the rest of the plate with vegetables.

2- Exclude white rice, pasta, bread from the diet. Instead, small servings of whole grains such as amaranth or quinoa are fine.

3- Snack only high-protein foods between meals (almonds, Greek yogurt, hummus, ricotta).

4- Breakfast can consist of eggs or smoothies made with a protein powder (whey, pea, egg, or collagen).

5- Stop consuming sugar.

6- Drink at least two liters of water a day.

7- The amount of food per meal should be small.

8- Fruits are best eaten in the morning, especially citrus fruits are suitable for a protein diet.

9- Have breakfast immediately after waking up, have dinner two to three hours before going to bed.

10- Do not forget about physical activity.

As a result, during the day the body receives less kilocalories than it consumes, but the feeling of hunger does not arise, since the protein reduces the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increases the level of the peptide YY, the hormone of satiety.

Protein diet: its effect on the body, how to lose weight and what not to eat

Influence on the body

Increasing protein intake to certain levels has an impact on appetite, metabolic rate, weight, fat balance, and overall health benefits. According to the WHO, based on 40 controlled studies in the United States, it has been proven that increased protein levels reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number of readings) by an average of 1.76 mm Hg. Art. and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of readings) at 1.15 mm Hg. Art.

One study found that, in addition to lowering blood pressure, a high protein diet also lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.


With each meal, metabolism accelerates as the body requires a certain amount of energy to digest and absorb the nutrients contained in foods. This is called the Thermal Effect of Food (TEF). Protein has a much higher TEF than fat or carbohydrates: 20-35% versus 5-15%. As a result, high protein intake significantly speeds up the metabolism and increases the number of calories burned. It can be 80-100 calories a day just to digest and assimilate food.

In addition, high protein diets promote better blood sugar control and increased insulin sensitivity.

Strengthening bones

Getting enough protein is important for bone health. In fact, about 50% of bone mass is protein.

Low protein intake reduces calcium absorption. Fears that a high-protein diet will leach calcium from bone mass to counteract the acidity of the blood is unfounded. As long as you consume no more than 150 grams of this macronutrient per day and combine it wisely with vegetables with adequate calcium intake, there will be no harm. Conversely, in older people, especially menopausal women who are prone to osteoporosis, increased protein intake helps maintain bone density, and reduces the risk of fractures of the forearm and hip. What're more, diets containing a higher percentage of calories from protein help maintain bone mass while losing weight.

Muscle growth

Since protein is the building block of human muscle mass, a lack of protein has a negative impact on muscle growth. Athletes, the elderly, and those who are actively trying to lose weight are especially prone to loss of muscle volume.

Thus, consuming enough protein helps maintain muscle mass and promotes muscle growth during strength training, and reduces its natural loss with aging and strict diets.

Weight normalization

Protein's ability to suppress appetite, induce satiety, and boost metabolism contributes to weight loss. In addition, this macronutrient not only satisfies hunger but also reduces overall food cravings, which eliminates night snacks. This is due to the improved function of dopamine, one of the main brain hormones involved in cravings and addictions.

Protein works on both sides of the inlet versus outlet calorie equation. It reduces intake and increases calorie intake. For this reason, a high protein diet results in weight loss even without intentionally limiting calories and portion sizes.

Who suits

High protein diets are safe for most people. However, there are also contraindications. An important point: a protein diet should not be long-term.

Irina Kononenko is convinced: "Diets high in protein are effective in losing weight, but not suitable for maintaining it at a certain level."

It is difficult to follow a diet for a long time. Lack of dietary fiber from whole grains, minerals, and vitamins can increase the risk of coronary heart disease. The negative consequences also include bad breath, constipation, fatigue. A high intake of branched-chain amino acids combined with a Western diet can exacerbate the metabolic disease. In addition, the high protein content creates a significant burden on the kidneys and cannot be recommended for people with a history of kidney disease.

In terms of bone health in the elderly, it was previously thought that high protein intake could lead to osteoporosis, causing chronic metabolic acidosis (loss of bone density). But in fact, protein can even improve conditions and help bone health.

Protein in foods

Choosing the right foods on a high protein diet is important to maximize your benefits.

Allowed Products

1- Eggs.

2- Lean cuts of beef.

3- Chicken breast.

4- Turkey breast.

5- Garbanzo beans or black beans.

6- Shrimps.

7- Pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds.

8- Fish, including salmon, flounder, and haddock.

9- Sprouted grain bread.

10- Whey or plant-based protein shakes.

11- Lentils.

12- Nut.

13- Oat.

14- Dairy products: Greek yogurt, cow's milk, or cheese.

15- Vegetables including Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

People with dietary restrictions should be excluded from this list of prohibited foods. For example, a person with lactose intolerance should not take dairy products to increase their protein intake.

Prohibited foods

As part of a protein diet, you should avoid:

1- Foods containing refined sugar (sweets, baked goods, sodas).

2- Anything with a high degree of processing.

3- A product that manufacturers sell as "dietary" because it often contains excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners.

Types of protein diets

There are several types of high-protein diets: Atkins, Ducan, Stillman, sports, kefir, Kremlin, and others.

For example, the Ducan Diet is a weight loss program that is low in carbohydrates, fat, and high in protein. It is based on the thesis that it is difficult to lose weight when hungry and focuses on foods that increase satiety.

Exiting the diet

It is necessary to leave gradually, at least two weeks, carefully adding carbohydrates. You should not use sweet and starchy foods, if you really want, you can season with a teaspoon of honey. Previously excluded foods should be added one at a time. Light breakfast and dinner, a lunch of lean meats and vegetables, plenty of fluids, and fitness will keep you from gaining weight again.

Typical mistakes

You can not choose unhealthy food (for example, sausages) as a source of protein, eat only animal protein without plant protein, drink little liquid during a diet. It is not recommended to give up fruit and eat large amounts of protein uncontrollably.

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