High Protein Diet Plan: Sample Menu, Do They Work For Weight Loss?, Benefits vs Weaknesses

High protein diet plans are among the more popular diets promoted by mainstream fitness magazines. They are said to be good for people wanting to lose weight and because of the high protein content, dieters don’t need to be worried about losing muscle.

high protein diet plan I am quite skeptical about high protein diet plans for a number of reasons,and prefer a long-term, flexible approach like that explained in the Anything Goes Diet.

Before I get into the pros and cons of a high protein diet, let me start by presenting a typical high protein diet plan menu:

High Protein Diet Plan Menu – 1500 Calories

Breakfast

  • scrambled eggwhites of 4 eggs (3/4 cup)
  • 1 slice multi-grain toast
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small banana

Morning Snack

  • 1 protein shake (e.g. Myoplex)

Lunch

  • 2 oz fresh deli cut turkey breast
  • 1 tablespoon regular mayonnaise
  • 2 slices multi-grain bread
  • 1 cup fresh baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese

Afternoon Snack

  • 1 protein bar (20g protein)

Dinner

  • 1 medium roasted, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup lentil soup
  • 2 celery sticks with nonfat cream cheese

Source: freedieting.com

High Protein Diet Plan Foods

As the name would suggest, the typical foods on a high protein diet must be high in protein content. Because these diets are followed by people who wish to lose weight, the diets should also be low in fat. Typical high protein diet plan foods include:

  • Protein Shakes and Bars
    As you can see in the diet plan menu above, these protein shakes and bars seem to feature quite heavily. That’s because they contain a lot of protein and are usually low in carbohydrates and fats. They’re also convenient for people on the run. However, if you’ve been reading this blog you know that I don’t really like “fake foods” that are just chemicals that have been commercially manufactured. If you’re on a high protein diet it may be necessary to have protein shakes and/or bars at certain times, but I think it’s a good idea to try to consume natural foods as much as possible.
  • Beef
    Beef is what comes to mind instantly when you think of high protein foods. In fact, beef does have a lot of protein – for instance, two ounces of sirloin steak have 19 grams of protein and no carbohydrates, and is also low in fat. This is one thing to keep in mind – when buying beef to have on your high protein diet, make sure that it is low in fat. If you get ground beef or cuts, try to get low fat types. You can also cut off visible fat when you’re preparing the beef. Good options that are low in fat are low-fat mince beef, shoulder steak, bottom round, eye of round and T-bone steak. (Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN00924)
  • Eggs
    Eggs are one of the most common foods in a high protein diet. They contain a lot of protein – for instance, one egg has 6 grams of protein and only 1 gram of carbohydrates. Eggs do also have a high cholesterol content, however, so if your doctor has warned you to avoid cholesterol, or if you have heart disease, you probably shouldn’t have too many eggs. However, according to the Harvard Medical School, eggs do not actually affect your blood cholesterol levels and are safe to eat! (http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/egg-nutrition) The Harvard study mentions that diabetics who consume an egg daily do have a greater chance of heart disease… so as with most things, I would recommend that you take your doctor’s advice and play it safe.
  • Chicken
    Chicken and other kinds of poultry like turkey are also good sources of protein, and are low in carbohydrates. A 4 ounce serving of chicken breast has 28 grams of protein and 0 carbohydrates. However, when buying chicken or poultry make sure you are getting leaner options like chicken breasts. Make sure your meat is skinless (skins contain a lot of fat) and opt for white meat which is lower in fat.
  • Fish
    Fish is one of those high nutrition value foods that I really love – and if you’re on  a high protein diet, then this is a great way to get more protein. Fish is high in protein and low in carbs; some varieties of fish are also high in omega-3 fats which are “good” fats that reduce plaque build-ups in arteries and lower blood triglyceride levels. However, you should try to avoid canned fish which is high in sodium. The best options are fresh fish that you buy from the market.
  • Ham, Bacon and Corned Beef
    These processed meats do have a high protein content and low carbs. For instance, a three-and-half ounce serve of corned beef has 26 grams of protein and 0 carbohydrates – however, it will be very high in fat. In general, I think it’s best to stay away from processed meats do to their high preservatives, sodium and fat content. However, these could be an option for you if you are pressed for time. You could also try to find low-fat versions to try to reduce your fat intake.
  • Cheese
    Cheese is one of my favorite foods, it tastes so yum! And if you’re on a high protein diet then cheese is a great way to get enough protein – one ounce of cheddar cheese has 7 grams of protein and no carbohydrates; however, it also has 9 grams of fat. So the best option would be to find a low-fat or reduced-fat cheese.

Popular High Protein, Low Carb Diet Plans

Currently, the following high protein, low carb diet plans are quite popular:

  • The Atkins Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Sugar Busters
  • The Zone

How Does a High Protein Diet Work For Weight Loss?

A high protein diet plan works by putting the body into a state of ketosis. For a person who eats normally, the body will transform carbohydrates in energy to burn during the day. However, once the body is deprived of carbohydrates due to the high protein diet, it will look to alternate forms of energy – that is, it will theoretically start burning fat. Proponents of the high protein diet say that this diet will not affect muscle mass since protein is being consumed.

Is It Really Possible to Lose Weight With a High Protein Diet?

So far, initial studies and anecdotal evidence point towards the fact these high protein diets do work for weight loss. However, a lot of these “studies” are presented by people selling diet plans such as Atkins, and any study that is self-serving needs to be considered with a bit of skepticism. In addition, many people post on internet forums saying that they have lost weight with the protein diet.

However, experts say that most of the weight lost from following a protein diet is water weight (http://www.med.Stanford.edu/school/DGIM/Teaching/Modules/obesity.html#RTFToC7). Carbohydrates cause the body to store water, and when you stop carb intake, your body loses water weight. This is why, when the dieter goes off the diet and eats normally, he or she will put the weight back on. In fact – this is the biggest criticism of the diet in terms of whether it works or not: the fact that any weight lost is put back on in the long run. Studies show that 90% of dieters gain back all their weight and sometimes more (http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/nut-diet/nut-other/high-pro.pdf)

More importantly, there are a number of harmful side effects that come about when following a high protein diet.

Side Effects of a High Protein Diet Plan

There are a number of harmful side effects of a protein diet plan:

  • Kidney damage:
    Due to the high amounts of protein consumed on a high-protein diet, the kidneys become overworked. They need to deal with abnormally high amounts of protein by-products, and are forced to excrete additional quantities of minerals like potassium, calcium and sodium.  (http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/nut-diet/nut-other/high-pro.pdf)
    As someone whose father has kidney damage from eating slightly too much protein (he wasn’t on a high protein diet, he just liked meat), I can personally attest to this being so true. And you really don’t want to have to deal with kidney damage on a day-to-day basis.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
    Because of the nature of the high protein diet, it’s not always possible to consume all the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy diet. These diets don’t allow for enough fruit, grains and milk which can cause fiber, Vitamin D, potassium, calcium and folate deficiencies. (http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/nut-diet/nut-other/high-pro.pdf)
  • Ketosis
    The principle of the high protein diet plan is that your body goes into a state of ketosis. However, what the institutes promoting these diet plans don’t say is that ketosis is regarded by doctors as a metabolic disorder, i.e. it’s not a good thing! Ketosis reduces a person’s metabolism and leaves them feeling tired, sluggish and lethargic. When the high protein diet is stopped, these symptoms usually go away (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ans/psychology/health_psychology/carbs.htm). However, ketosis also causes the build-up of ketone bodies, which makes the blood overly acidic, which in turn can be fatal. (http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/nut-diet/nut-other/high-pro.pdf) Ketosis also causes more work for the kidneys which increases the chances of kidney damage.  Finally, ketosis also adversely affects mental processing and flexibility (Wing, R.R., J.Vazquez and C.Ryan. “Cognitive effects of ketogenic weight reducing diets” International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders. 19(11):811-6, Nov 1995.)
  • Osteoporosis
    Women who go on a high protein diet increase their chances of osteoporosis according to various studies. (http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100706CampbellProtein.html)

High Protein Diets For Weight Loss – Yay or Nay?

Hmm, at the end of all this I would have to say…. high protein diets just don’t sound very appealing to me.

1. The number of side effects of a high protein diet – these are pretty serious side effects. I mean, one of the major reasons for losing weight is to be healthy, and if you damage your liver or your heart by going on a diet, that doesn’t seem to make sense.

2. This isn’t a long term solution – as the studies show, most people on this diet don’t enjoy long-term weight loss. Once you go off the diet, you just put everything back on again.

3. Lack of food variety – this is one of those strict diets that I’m not too fond of. I like eating what I choose, and I have a massive sweet tooth (though I have fruits and low-fat yoghurt most of the time). I also love my carbs, and though I don’t eat much rice or pasta or bread, I like to have a tiny serving with the rest of my food.

I don’t want to seem to harsh on this diet though – I know that if you’re desperate to lose weight you really want to try anything that has a chance of working.

However, I recommend taking a long term approach that’s easy to do. I’m a fan of the flexible eating guide, Anything Goes, and I used it in conjunction with the Eat Stop Eat guide to lose weight fast. These days (now that I’m very very near my ideal physique) I follow the Anything Goes Diet and do Eat Stop Eat once in a while.

If you actually do go on this diet, please leave a comment to let us all know how you’re doing. And if you’ve been on a protein diet before, please let us know how it went for you :)

  

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Category: Diets, Weight Loss

About Alisha: Alisha is a Melbourne-based blogger who is happy to have lost a lot of weight recently! She is now trying to be more fit and lead a more healthy lifestyle. In this blog she shares tips for losing weight quickly and easily. You can read more about her on the "My Story" page.

Comments (13)

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  1. hsdhu jjnsj says:

    i was on this diet in 2009 and lost over 20 pounds. I really enjoyed and i gained it all back within a year and a half largely due to not working out and eating junk so it was my fault. I think the diet works. For me, i follow the diet strictly and have a cheat day in the week where i eat as much carbs and anything i crave, that way at least once a week you can get all the available nutrients in. It worked for m. I have gained about 40pounds again in the last two years and i have commenced on this diet again and hope i loose it again and keep it off.

  2. Alisha says:

    Hey good luck hsdhu! I’m sure you’ll lose weight again.

    This is one of the main reasons I don’t like restrictive diets that force you to eat in one particular way – there’s only so long that you can stick to it! And once you stop, you gain back all the weight.

    Personally I don’t like depriving myself of foods I like and use a more flexible approach to weight loss. You can read about what I did to lose weight here.

  3. Steve Clayton says:

    20 months ago I started the Atkins diet. I lost 47 pounds abd have keep it all off but 6 of them. I love it. My energy level tripled, I don’t take naps after meals. I’m 53. It changed my life in a positive way. I use low carb wraps made by mission. 7 carbs. I use dream field pasta. 5 carbs per cooled cup. Lots of green salads, lean meat, no potatoes or bread. All sandwiches on a wrap on in lettuce or cabbage leaf. Its a way of life. I love it. Spleda for sweatner.

    • Alisha says:

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I love to hear from readers.

      It’s great that you’ve found a diet which works for you.

      One of the reasons I’m so skeptical of high protein diets is because my dad has some kidney problems from eating too much proteins. So I recommend anyone doing a high protein diet check in with a doctor periodically.

      Also, I’ve found that a lot of people can’t stick to a very restrictive diet – there’s only so long that your mental will power will hold up. But since you managed to make it work for yourself – that’s what counts!

      Now that I’m at my goal weight, I’m interested in eating healthy, having only organic, fresh-cooked meals, etc. I realize this is not everyone’s goal. But this is why I’m shifting more towards being an organic vegetarian with some supplements (and some cheats, lol!) – I’ll update about this later in a new post.

      Thanks again for sharing what worked for you!

  4. I lost 70 lbs in 1 year last year by counting my calories, excersizing and eating healthier. I eat the same thing everyday. I need more recipies of foods that are low cost, easy to make and yummy!

    • Alisha says:

      Hey Cliff, congrats on the weight loss and thank you for taking the time to share what worked for you :)

      Yep, the more I hear from readers and reflect on my own experiences, the more convinced I am that the only real way to lose weight and keep it off is by doing the one basic task of burning more calories than you consume. This is done by eating healthy and exercising, although I also use the Eat Stop Eat method to amp up the lbs loss levels a bit ;)

  5. Denise says:

    Any healthy eating plan will work as long as their is a calorie deficit preferably by your diet and exercise plan. It really is not that difficult, it is just doing it and sticking with it for life is the key.

    • Alisha says:

      Hey Denise, this is pretty true. However, the problem really comes around because of maintenance issues – how long can you cut out the foods that you love? That’s why healthy “treats”, a bit of dark chocolate and a cheat day keep me sane :)

  6. Shelley says:

    What is the eat stop eat method?

  7. khaime says:

    I now weight about 315 lbs, and I would like to lose 100 lbs. I am going to use weight training to lose the weight, but I was concern. Can I use a high protein diet to aid me in losing weight. I mean I can eat boneless, and skinless chicken, and talapia , and vegatables all day , everyday. What do you think ? Thanks !

  8. Cabbage soups are considered best option for losing weight and they are easy to prepare as well. Moreover you can consume it in large quantities because it will produce only positive effect on your weight.

  9. isha says:

    let me know a high protein diet plan according to srilankan foods….

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