The high-fat, high-protein diet is the latest craze to take the fitness world by storm. But is this eating style safe? And is it an effective way to shape a lean and attractive figure? Let’s find out!
What is a High-Fat, High-Protein Diet?
As the name suggests, it’s a diet on which you consume relatively high amounts of dietary fat and protein but small amounts of carbs. You do this by limiting your intake of carb-rich foods such as grains, legumes, and tubers while consuming high-fat and protein foods like meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, eggs, low-carb fruits, low-carb dairy, and healthy oils. Examples of such diets are Atkins, the Paleo diet, and the ketogenic diet.
Is a High-Fat, High-Protein Diet Safe to Follow?
If executed correctly, then the answer is yes – a high-fat, high-protein diet is safe. In fact, it can deliver many health benefits, including fat loss, decreased blood triglyceride levels, increased levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol, and improved insulin health. Let’s look closer at each macronutrient.
While many people think it’s unhealthy to follow a diet high in dietary fat, this belief is wrong! Dietary fat plays a crucial role in many essential bodily functions, including energy and hormone production, various cellular activities, and nutrient absorption.
Problems arise, however, if you get too much of your dietary fat from low-quality sources, for example, vegetable oils and processed meats. These foods lack essential nutrients and contain compounds that can cause inflammation in your body. That’s why it’s crucial to rely on high-quality food sources for your dietary fat intake.
A high-protein diet is linked to many benefits, among them healthier body weight, decreased appetite, increased muscle mass and strength, and enhanced metabolism. In addition, there’s no evidence that high protein consumption has any adverse effects in healthy people. While it is often believed to cause liver and kidney damage, there is no research showing this to be true in healthy individuals . And contrary to popular belief, a high protein intake does not cause osteoporosis but actually prevents it .
A low-carb not no carb, diet is completely safe for extended periods of time. In fact, reducing carb intake can be very beneficial, especially if you’re used to consuming a lot of carbs daily. Why, you ask?
Well, first off, it makes you more metabolically flexible by enhancing the ability of your body to burn fat for fuel. Secondly, it increases insulin sensitivity, which means your body needs to secrete less insulin after food consumption. This will result in less bodily inflammation and fewer severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
How a High-Fat, High-Protein Diet Can Help You Lose Body Fat
A high-fat, high-protein diet can be an excellent way to aid fat loss, primarily because such an eating style suppresses hunger and tends to pair with a decreased calorie consumption [2-3]. This is because protein is highly satiating, and because you limit your intake of carbs, which are the primary calorie source for most people.
Besides, high protein intake helps prevent muscle loss while you are slimming down. This not only keeps your sex appeal sizzling but also benefits your metabolism because muscle mass is highly metabolically active.
The Downsides of a High-Fat, High-Protein Diet
While the high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet is excellent at promoting fat loss and supporting health, it also has its cons, just like every other diet under the sun. One of them is that going low-carb may impair performance during high-intensity exercises such as lifting weights and sprinting. The reason is that carbs for most people are the primary energy source during such activities .
Besides, cutting out carb-rich foods may cause you to under-consume certain essential vitamins and nutrients. An example is fibre, which is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, and starchy carb sources. While you can get enough of these essential nutrients on a low-carb diet, you’ll have to plan your meals more carefully and consume a wide range of different foods.
Thirdly, the eating style requires of you to pass on high-carb foods such as grains and tubers. This works fine in the short term to improve insulin sensitivity and kick-start weight loss results. In the long run, however, most people find it easier to adhere to a diet by using a more flexible dieting approach that includes carbs.
The Bottom Line
The high-fat, high-protein diet is a safe eating style to follow if executed correctly. It can be particularly beneficial for those who want to burn body fat because this diet improves insulin sensitivity, enhances metabolic flexibility, and tends to automatically reduce calorie intake. However, at the end of the day, which ever option you decide to use in order to create fat loss, you must be in a calorific deficit!
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- Manninen, A. H. (2004). High-Protein Weight Loss Diets and Purported Adverse Effects: Where is the Evidence? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 1(1), 45-51.
- Weigle, D. S., Breen, P. A., Matthys, C. C., Callahan, H. S., Meeuws, K. E., Burden, V. R., & Purnell, J. Q. (2005). A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(1), 41-8.
- McClernon, F. J., Yancy, W. S., Jr., Eberstein, J. A., Atkins, R. C., & Westman, E. C. (2007). The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms. Obesity, 15(1), 182-7.
- Miller, S. L., & Wolfe, R. R. (1999). Physical exercise as a modulator of adaptation to low and high carbohydrate and low and high fat intakes. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 53(1), 112-9.
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