Serious bodybuilders, weightlifters and other 'extreme' athletes have been following high protein diets for years. Recently however, as you may have noticed high protein diets have become far more mainstream, and people from all walks of life seem to be adopting one. But is this just yet another diet fad that will fade away as quickly as it arrived or is there actually a good reason to consider changing your diet in this way?
What is a High Protein Diet? What Do You Eat?
We all need a certain amount of protein from our diet every day in order to maintain basic bodily functions. Women need around 50 grams a day, men a little more. A high protein diet ups those figures by as much as double and does so by encouraging the consumption of more lean meats, certain seafoods, legumes, certain dairy products and even soy. At the same time carbohydrates are severely restricted.
The fact is that according to a growing number of health and fitness experts there are several good reasons to consider a high protein diet, including all the following:
Reduced Calorie Intake
High protein foods tend to fill people up faster, resulting in the consumption of fewer calories. And we all know that if you are trying to lose weight then a reduction in the amount of daily calories consumed is a must, even if you exercise a great deal.
The Thermic Effect Is Triggered
Different food types are metabolized by the body at different rates. It takes more calories to break down and metabolize proteins than it does fats and carbohydrates. In fact it often calls for double the calorie expenditure to break down proteins versus breaking down carbohydrates, something called the thermic effect.
More Efficient Muscular Development
As we mentioned, serious bodybuilders have been following high protein diets for decades. Their reason for doing so was primarily because a higher protein intake speeds the development of lean muscle. But you don't have to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger in training to benefit from this aspect of a high protein diet.
Everyone's muscle tissue is constantly being broken down and rebuilt, and that process does slow as we age. especially when doing weight-based activities. If you consume additional protein and provide your body with amino acids to help repair and grow your muscles, then you can stall that decline, and, even adding in light weight training will result in an increase in lean muscle mass versus fat.
Increased Fat Loss
The combination of the thermic effect – which is essentially an increase in your resting metabolism, feeling fuller faster at meal time and an increased muscle mass means that your body will potentially be better equipped to lose fat faster and efficiently. It's not magic by any means, you'll still need to keep an eye on calorie intake and ensure you exercise but many people are finding that a high protein diet is easier and more effective to maintain then many other diets they have tried in the past.
A Sensible Eating Plan
If you want to try following a high-protein diet, it’s important to choose your protein wisely. Excellent food choices include soy protein, beans, nuts, fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, pork and low-fat dairy products. Avoid processed meats where possible.
The quality of the carbohydrates (carbs) you eat is important too. Cut processed carbs from your diet, and choose foods that are high in fiber and nutrient-dense, such as whole grains and vegetables and fruit.