What is high protein, low carb?
In essence, this diet increases your daily intake of protein while reducing the amount of carbohydrates. The low carb aspect means that you should be eating roughly fewer than 130 g of carbs or less than 25% of your daily calories. The high protein part of this diet means you should be eating at least 1,3 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight. This typically adds up to more than 30% of your daily calories in protein.
If we consider an average person that needs 2000 kcal per day to cover their energy needs then this would be the macronutrient split they should aim for.
- 25% carbohydrates (125g)
- 45% fat (100 g)
- 30% protein (150 g)
How does it promote weight loss?
Protein is the most filling of the three macronutrients, it helps you decrease hunger and food intake. When you eat protein rich foods, they stimulate secretion of fullness hormones and lower production of hunger hormones (1). High protein foods also require more calories to be burned during digestion. In our previous blog post we also discussed how the low carb diet can contribute to weight wellness.
Clinical trials also confirm that high protein, low carb diets are more effective for weight loss than those higher in carbs and protein (2). It’s important to note that total calorie balance, how many calories you take in and burn, is the most important factor for weight loss. High protein, low carb diets seem to be an effective way to support a calorie deficit which is necessary for weight loss.
High protein low carb offers many benefits
Both high protein diets and low carb diets offer their own sets of benefits. Combining the two diets may offer numerous advantages. These are the most notable ones.
- Weight loss. Both of these diets are very good at facilitating weight loss. Their combination can be especially effective for this goal.
- Maintenance of muscle. Weight loss often comes at the cost of unwanted muscle loss. High protein diets can help preserve muscle mass during weight loss.
- Blood sugar regulation. Both high protein and low carb eating patterns have been shown to improve markers of blood sugar control, especially in people with type 2 diabetes (3).
- Bone health. Studies suggest that high protein diets may help prevent bone loss and reduce fracture risk, especially in older people (4).
What are potential downsides?
There is a common misconception that high protein diets are hard on kidneys. You can rest assured that high protein intake is widely considered safe for those with normal kidney function. Only people who are currently suffering with kidney disease should avoid this eating pattern.
There is one potential downside that applies to almost everyone. Research links high protein diets that are high in meat to an increased risk for some cancers and coronary heart disease due to intakes of saturated fat (5). Thankfully, there is a good solution to this problem. You can choose plant-based sources of protein such as nuts, seeds, or legumes instead of meat. Check out our article with tips how to introduce more plant protein into your diet.
Limit these foods
Just like every healthy eating pattern, high protein, low carb diets want you to limit highly processed foods that are low in nutrients and high in sugar and carbs. Try to reduce your consumption of these four food groups.
- Food rich in sweeteners such as sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, agave, maple syrup
- Sugary drinks: soda, sweetened coffee and tea, juices, sweetened alcoholic beverages, beer
- Highly processed foods: French fries, fried chicken, chips, salami,
- Grains and starches: rice, potatoes, wheat-based pasta and breads, cereals
Eat more of these foods
High protein, low carb diets work best when you focus on eating mostly whole, nutrient-rich foods. Apart from that you will also have to focus more on your protein intake than usual to hit the desired 30% of protein of your total calories. Here are the main food groups to include.
- Legumes: edamame, tempeh, tofu, beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds: flaxseed, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Animal protein sources: eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fish, shellfish, meat
- Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, pepper, mushrooms, asparagus
- Non-sweetened beverages: water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea and coffee
High protein, low carb recipes
Typical high protein, low carb meals include eggs omelettes, fish, meat, and veggies. Those can be really tasty but sometimes you just want your favourite pizza. Thankfully, with flaxseed-based products from Lizza you can enjoy anything from pizza and bread to porridge while staying high protein, low carb. Plus, it’s all plant-based protein too so you’re doing something extra for your diet. Here are a few recipes to inspire your breakfasts, dinners, and snacks.
Low Carb Muesli Porridge (17g of protein)
Grilled Aubergine Sandwich (12,5g of protein)
Pizza with Vegan Bacon (30g of protein)
Greek Pasta Salad (22g of protein)
Nachos with Salsa (26g of protein)
Losing weight, the healthy way
Eating a high protein, low carb diet can be very helpful for weight loss. Of course, it’s not a guarantee you will lose weight just by increasing protein and limiting carbs but it goes a long way to help you feel full and keep hunger away. It also helps maintain muscle when losing weight which is important for overall health. Long and steady wins the race. The fact that you can enjoy your favourite meals while getting in shape is something that will allow you to stick with this long term.