The Real Protein Diet
There are thousands of articles about the benefits of a protein diet. Many magazines even present the simple fact we’ve been repeating for many years as some kind of magic. But what is it in reality?
What is actually a protein diet?
A protein diet is basically a type of diet in which the proportion of protein is significantly higher than that of the other two macronutrients, namely carbohydrate and fat. For us, the question is not what is so good about it, as the diet system that we promote basically meets these criteria (even if we haven’t given it such a fancy name). The question is rather: why is it just now that people are finally realising that this might actually work?
So, the bottom line is: if you follow a high-protein diet, most of your macronutrient intake should come from proteins. In practice, this means that you mostly consume meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy products or maybe plant-based proteins, with minimal fat and carb intake. I mean, that would be the case ideally. Now you may ask me why I am saying this.
Because I have already seen horrors under the fake name “protein diet” recommending a breakfast that consists of a bun with coffee, just to mention one. The protein content of a bun is negligible. On the other hand, it is loaded with refined carbs. This already contradicts the definition of protein diet. And that’s not all: in the same diet plan, there is deli ham in itself for dinner. As we all know, this is neither low-fat nor clean food. No comment.
Fortunately, there are plenty of better examples, that actually meet the below criteria:
- sufficient fiber intake: eat your veggies, not only protein;
- sufficient unsaturated fat intake: the diet should also contain flaxseed oil, fish oil, extra virgin olive oil etc.;
- low carb and zero sugar intake: this is the main pillar of any successful diet plan.
Sure, there are other “wonders”, too, with twists like: “from week 2 on, the last meal of the day should consist of carbs only, twice a week”. In fact, this is probably the biggest diet fail you could possibly make. Another “fine” example from the “no comment” category that lacks any logic. However, it may sound good that you can indulge in bakery products twice a week (and for dinner!) For us, it causes physical pain to read such unprofessional diet plans.
Protein diet the right way
It might feel better to read about a system that is wrapped in some incredible mysterious ideology. We could also hype it up a little bit more, that’s for sure. But the truth is, there is nothing special, complicated or mysterious about the real protein diet. All you need to do is follow the same guidelines each week:
- High protein intake (that is: lots of meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy or maybe soy);
- Low carbohydrate intake (that is: minimum or no sides, and no bakery products. You should keep carbs to a minimum, and even that should come from whole grains.
- Zero sugar, especially added sugar (only a tiny amount of fruit is allowed). Honey or brown sugar fall into the same category as regular table sugar, and fructose is not recommended either. Xylitol or erythritol can be great alternatives.
- Medium fat intake, mostly from essential fatty acids (extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil etc. Sunflower oil is NOT one of those, NEITHER is pork lard!)
But how does this look in practice? Well, basically, all you need to do is eliminate sides and bakery products from your life. Meat, eggs, fish, low-fat dairy and vegetables: you can virtually eat these in unlimited amounts, provided that you eliminated starchy sides.
Pitfalls of a protein diet
Beware: there are many pitfalls. More than you would think. Breaded meat? No-no: it contains flour and breadcrumbs. Cereal bars? Hell no! They are loaded with sugar. Diet desserts? No way: they are loaded with other kinds of carbs. Loads of fruit? That’s also a no-go: a small amount of fruit in the morning is the maximum, because fruits are also quite high in carbs.
Deli meat? Take some time once to read the ingredients. You will most likely find sugar and loads of unsaturated fats. Although the latter are not totally evil (as many think), you’d better be careful with them. Plus, if you think it through, the value-for-money ratio is horrible, too. Compare how much of valuable nutrients you get from 100 g of deli meat and 100 g of raw chicken breast, and you will find that providing your daily protein intake from deli meat is anything but cost-efficient.
So, by saying “meat (fish, eggs, low-fat dairy and soy) and vegetables” we mean that literally. You can make super delicious meals from infinite combinations of these ingredients. Bonus: you don’t need to starve yourself, trying to survive on just a few bites a day. Starvation is not your friend in the long run. You may eat all day long, provided that you don’t get totally out of control :)
Let’s see an example:
Sample meal plan on a protein diet (just to give you a hint; without exact amounts)
Breakfast: eggs with vegetables (and maybe some whole wheat bread or puffed rice cakes)
Morning snack: Cottage cheese with vegetables; this may be the appropriate time for a small portion of fruit
Lunch: Meat or fish with salad and olive oil
Afternoon snack: a handful (but not more) of cashew nuts, peanuts or pistachios
Dinner: see lunch
You don’t need to finish dinner by 6 pm. This is just another myth. As you can see, meals mostly contain protein and fat, and a small amount of carbs. If you opt for a diet plan like this, you don’t need to be so rigorous about the amounts, and you can virtually take weight loss for granted. True: the time will come when you will need to do some math for even better results. But by that time you will become a hardcore dieter, so this won’t be a big deal for you.
Good luck with your diet! Remember: there are no miracles. What you need is willpower, determination and persistence. If you have these, success is guaranteed!
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