Taking the Mystery out of the High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet
HOW DO CARBOHYDRATES AFFECT YOUR WEIGHT?
Carbohydrates are healthy, filling, satisfying and taste good, but they also can add weight. Much of the epidemic of obesity is attributable to a marked in crease in over-consumption of carbohydrates. Your body uses carbohydrates as fuel, and if you eat too many carbohydrates, they are stored as fat.
Insulin, a natural hormone that your body produces, plays an important role in converting carbohydrates into fuel and fat. If you understand how insulin works to create fat, you are a long way towards reaching your weight goals.
Let?s get started. Eating excessive carbohydrates causes an over-release of insulin. Among its many jobs, insulin signals the body to take in food (it has been called the “hunger hormone”) and, once the food is consumed, signals the body to store the food energy in the form of fat.
Too much insulin results in too strong an impulse to eat, too often, and a body that too readily stores food in the form of fat.
The scientific term for this condition is ‘post-prandial reactive hyperinsulinemia’ which means too much insulin is released after eating. Over time, people who are hyperinsulinemic become insulin resistant.
That means the cells in their muscles, nervous systems, and organs stop working with the insulin to open the doors to these cells and allow food energy (blood sugar or glucose) to enter. At this point, you may experience symptoms of low-blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) including irritability, shakiness, tiredness, intense cravings, confusion, and headaches.
Once the blood sugar cannot easily enter the muscles, nervous system, or organs, much of the food energy gets channeled into the fat cells and weight gain comes easily. Over time, however, as high insulin levels continue, even the fat cells can shut down and the blood glucose gets trapped in the blood stream bringing on the condition known as adult-onset diabetes.
A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates and reduces the intake of those foods that stimulate the production and release of insulin. You?ll be able to lose weight and shake the cravings, and look forward to a healthier life.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF THE HIGH PROTEIN, LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIET
Increased protein consumption with restriction of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, starches, reduces the stimulation of insulin, which is the hormone that facilitates the storage of fat.
When sugar from carbohydrates is unavailable, the body turns on its fat burners and extracts energy from its own stored fat. The consequences are rapid weight loss and preferential fat loss.
By supplementing the diet with high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals, you maintain muscle mass and enjoy other health benefits, while losing weight quickly and safely. Here?s how to do it:
Eat 4-5 small protein portions (12-15g of protein each) and one meal. Or eat 3-4 small protein portions and two meals. For example, you might enjoy a protein shake for breakfast, a protein bar a few hours before noon, a shake and salad for lunch, some soy nuts a few hours before dinner.
With this example, you can indulge in a great-tasting and filling dinner consisting of some of your favorite foods that are high in protein and taste but low in carbohydrates.
Meals should consist of:
PROTEIN: as much as you want, preferably skinless, lean white meats. Enjoy your favorite cuts of meat or fish such as top sirloin, chicken breast, pork chops or filet of sole. Or make an omelet loaded with real cheese and slices of fiber-rich vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, fresh mushrooms, green pepper, scallions, spinach and green beans.
SALADS: consisting largely of greens and selected vegetable such as radishes, mushrooms, cucumber, celery and various peppers. Jazz up your salad with slices of chicken, turkey or cheese. Or pile it high with tuna, shrimp, or crab meat.
VEGETABLES: choices, choices, choices including bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, green pepper, spinach, and lettuce. Stir fry a selection of vegetables in olive oil and add chicken, beef, turkey, or even tofu (extra firm is best). Eat them raw, dipped in olive oil or with a low-carbohydrate dressing.
If you are eating two meals per day, they should consist of only protein and vegetables. Be creative and remember to vary your selections and try new dishes as often as possible. Fruits should be limited, but if you must eat fruit as a treat, peaches and plums are preferred. However, try to eat these fruits only two or three times per week.
Eating small amounts frequently throughout the day helps speed up your metabolism so that you continue to burn calories. Try roasted soy nuts, protein bars, and soups to help maintain steady blood sugar levels and keep you feeling energized.
NO-NOS FOR THE DIET
In order for this diet to be successful, the following foods should be eliminated:
*Products containing simple sugars, including fruit, sweets, and many commercial sauces and dressings.
*Products made from white flour, breads, pastas and cereals.
*Naturally occurring complex carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, corn and grains. **
Other carbohydrates that should be avoided are those that are quickly converted into simple sugars, such as carrots, beets, and many fruits. They encourage the production and release of insulin. Elimination of these foods is critical to shutting off insulin and reversing the body from an efficient fat storer to an efficient fat burner.
Do not eat
*Bread and all of its relatives, crackers, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, pies and muffins
*Chick peas, dried beans, lentils, pinto beans
*Cereals, hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened
*Most fruits, except for plums and peaches
*All products made of white flour
*Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, parsnips and beets
*Snacks including pretzels, potato chips, popcorn
*White rice, potatoes and corn
YEAH, RIGHT. WHO EATS LIKE THIS?
Actually, until very recently, all humans did. And our ancestors used to get a lot more exercise that we do. They chopped wood, carried water, tended gardens, hunted animals and never spent all day sitting at a computer.
In our wonderful world of progress, we have created an environment perfect for getting fat and unhealthy. We have grown up in a lifestyle of luxurious, delicious carbohydrates that our forefathers and foremothers never heard of or ever dreamed about.
But we live in a world of today, and sticking to this diet, especially in the beginning can be challenging. There are several important keys to making a change to your diet and sticking to it.
Replace something you must give up with something you love that you can eat. If you just eliminate a food, you will spend a lot of time thinking about how much you miss it. Instead, plan to eat something else that is ok. For example, when I gave up wheat products, I substituted olives and peaches, and ate as much as I wanted until I didn?t miss the wheat any more.
Have a “Cheat Day.” Plan that one day per week, you can eat whatever you want. Completely go off the diet for 24 hours and go hog wild. Then the next day, get back on the diet. Having a cheat day makes it easier to transition into your new diet and slowly say good-bye to your old carbo friends.
Here?s another benefit. Over time, you will find that you feel pretty darn crummy the day after your cheat day, and you won?t want to cheat anymore. Thursdays were my cheat days. On Thursdays, I ate pizza and bread sticks, and drank beer with abandon.
In a surprisingly short number of weeks, I started feeling miserable on Fridays, like I had a terrible hangover. It wasn?t long before I felt so terrible that I never wanted pizza again.
Once you reach your weight goals, you can reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet. To keep your weight off for good, certain carbohydrates should continue to be restricted.
This doesn?t mean you can never have a baked potato or a plate of spaghetti again, but it does suggest that products made with white sugar, white flour and certain root vegetables should be a rare culinary event. You can phase in potato skins and whole-grain pasta once you?re on to maintenance way of living.
As you increase carbohydrates, concentrate on small fruits with the highest antioxidant power such as blueberries, grapes, strawberries, plums, peaches and apricots. Leave behind the bananas, mango, papaya, pears, melon and pineapple.
As with all new diets and nutritional changes, make an appointment with your family doctor and have a physical to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be aggravated by this diet.
If you are in good physical shape, you may experience symptoms caused by your body going through a carbohydrate withdrawal such as weakness, dizziness and nausea. Your body should adjust to the new fat-burning metabolism within a few days and the symptoms should disappear.
Make sure you?re drinking plenty of water because water loss accompanies the first few days of carbohydrate restriction. Many people find eating small, high-protein snacks every few hours as opposed to three larger meals a day helps as well.
Cymber S. Quinn is a nutrition consultant and business coach for Gr8Living. Please contact her for more information on weight loss and tips on changing your eating habits, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 408-353-9775, or www.slimdiet4you.com.