A high protein diet is a great strategy for losing a significant amount of fat in a short period of time. By that I mean, a high protein diet could help a person lose 10 to 15 pounds in 2 weeks. Assuming some of that is water weight, the fat loss would still be in the range of 8 pounds, plus or minus a couple. That is a significant amount of fat to burn.
At first glance, 8 pounds of fat might not seem like a lot. Let’s say a diet loses 6 pounds. Again, this may not seem like much to some. But consider this, a dieter follows a high protein diet for 2 weeks followed by 4 weeks of clean and healthy eating. Dieter loses 6 pounds and then stays stable for 4 weeks, maybe even drop a pound or two.
At a minimum, the dieter loses 6 pounds in a 6-week cycle. With the cliche rinse and repeat, the dieter is seeing a loss of more than 48 pounds. 52 weeks divided by 6 yields 8 more cycles. 8 for 6 yields 48 pounds. That can change life. That is assuming there is no weight loss during the 4 week cleanse feeding phase. And the water weight loss will add to that number.
So what is a high protein diet for weight loss? Or more correctly, what is a high protein fat loss program?
Most Americans probably get a large portion of their calories from carbohydrates. In Business, they talk about the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% comes from 20%. In this case, since carbohydrates probably account for 80% of calories, the Pareto Principle could be modified to say that 80% comes from 33%.
Although many Americans get their calories from carbohydrates (read sugar), conventional wisdom suggests that calories should come from a ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 30% fat. Those numbers could fluctuate a bit more for carbs and a bit less for protein.
The high protein diet obviously changes the proportions. But first, the general principle of weight reduction is to achieve a caloric deficit. The greater the deficit, the greater the weight loss. All the programs that exist are strategies to achieve the caloric deficit. If this guiding principle is met, the programs are good.
That said, while there are many ways to get to Boston, some modes will get you faster and better. High protein content is one of them. This strategy is very simple, most of the calories come from protein.
This is in contrast to established programs such as the Adkins diet that seek to minimize carbohydrates as a primary goal. The calorie deficit is balanced by increasing protein and fat. But the main goal is to cut down on carbohydrates.
The subtle difference is that a high protein diet focuses on increasing (dramatically) protein intake, while minimizing carbohydrates and fat. 1 gram of protein has 4 calories, as do carbohydrates, but fat has 9 calories. Drastically minimizing fats and carbohydrates also means dramatically increasing your protein intake.
“In the past,” Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Conventional wisdom suggests 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. That’s not much.
With one gram of protein per body weight, a 200-pound man would need 200 grams. 200 grams would produce 800 calories, add some residual fat and carbohydrates, and the caloric intake would probably not exceed 1000. The caloric deficit has been covered. The combination of high protein with the minimization of fats and carbohydrates will drastically reduce caloric intake.
But let’s be clear, this is not a walk in the park. A diet rich in protein can be stressful for the body. Although a number of indigenous peoples around the world abandon a high-protein diet as a matter of “survival” or “culture,” it is not something a person should start without having done solid research and talking to their doctor. If there are underlying health problems, definitely speak to a doctor first. Even if there are no health problems apart from weight; talking to a doctor is always a good idea.
And this should not be a prolonged diet. Daily consumption of plain chicken breast and celery sticks could easily have it bouncing off the walls in no time. This strategy would involve cycling this rigorous approach for 2 weeks with 2 to 4 weeks of a clean, balanced diet that provides a minimal caloric deficit. This cycle would repeat until the desired weight goal is achieved.
Finally, critical to the success of a program like this would be to have a support group of like-minded people through the process. On the tenth day of canned tuna, chicken breast and cucumbers, support is critical. Also, a group that can encourage one, a group to share successes, frustrations, hopes and challenges is very important.
The high protein diet for fat loss is clearly a powerful tool in the fight against obesity.