An example of a high-protein, low-carb meal: pan-fried beef steak, served with shaggy ink cap.
A high-protein, low-carb diet is now very much in vogue, of which the Atkins and Dukan Diets are some of the best-known examples of.
What such diets have in common is that they place no restrictions on how much meat, fish, egg and dairy products is consumed throughout the day, as long as carbohydrate intake is limited.
A standard high-protein diet may thus include ham and eggs for breakfast while lunch and dinner feature fish, meat, eggs or cream cheese, with vegetables a staple of every meal.
The principle behind this stems from the eating habits of prehistoric man in the Paleolithic era, who had yet to develop the agricultural technology to be able to rely on more modern foods such as rice and bread as we do.
It is a commonly-held misconception that foods rich in protein necessarily carry an abundance of calories, but this is far from the truth. In fact, protein-rich foods take longer to digest and metabolise before entering the system, which means that more calories are burned in order to sustain this process.
The benefits of protein-rich foods do not end there- the very fact that it takes a great length of time to break down implies that you remain full for a longer period- an ideal situation for effective fat-loss.
In addition, it contains a fixed amount of amino acids- a key ingredient that maintains your metabolism rate (BMR), which in turn allows for calories to be burned throughout the day even during recovery periods when no strenuous physical activity is being undertaken. As such, your body is not only acclimatised to retaining muscle mass, but also conditioned to burn fat more efficiently.
-What is protein?
Protein is linked with a multitude of key bodily functions, such as growth, brain development, bone health and hormone production.
It is made up of 22 different forms of amino acids, of which 8 (10 for children) are absolutely vital and since our bodies are incapable of producing it naturally, it leaves us with having to source them from our food intake.
Protein comes in two forms:
🐔 Animal protein
Meat, eggs and dairy products are primary examples of this, in view of the fact that they contain 8 types of key amino acids- a crucial growth factor.
🥦 Plant-based protein
Plant-based proteins include glycine max (soy beans), mushrooms and broccoli. However, since they contain a select few types of amino acids, vegetarians should pick a variety of plants and consume supplements in order to meet their daily protein requirement.
An interesting point about the two is that they have a different effect on the human body; research has suggested that a diet that relies purely on animal protein may lead to a number of long-term ailments, such as osteoporosis, heart issues, high blood pressure and even cancer.
By contrast, plant-based protein lowers the risk of vascular diseases and thus, one would be well-advised to include a mixture of both.
-How much protein does one need?
The average adult requires around 0.7-1.0g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
However, certain individuals such as children, teens, the elderly, pregnant women breastfeeding mothers and athletes may require an additional quantity exceeding that ratio.
You are advised to seek a doctor's approval prior to the above dietary changes.