People always ask Naturopaths the same old question: “Should I be on a high or low protein diet to lose and maintain my weight?” For most people, the word “diet” usually implies some type of short-term weight loss-program, but in reality should be considered a lifelong approach to using the correct foods to improve and maintain a healthy life.
What’s Making You Overweight – Fats, Carbs- or Your Lifestyle?
The Atkins Diet: The High-Protein & Fat Diet
- 15-35% Carbs: non-starchy vegetables and fruits
- 30-45% Protein: fish, seafood, poultry, dairy foods and red meats
- 30-50% Fat: meat, healthy oils, nuts and seeds, and dairy foods.
- Helpful for preventing cravings and binge-eating for people who have overindulged in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- The two-week induction phase works well, the initial weight loss works for most, use the Keto (urine) sticks for best results.
- Great for people who have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or carbohydrate sensitivity, grain allergies or insulin-related health problems.
- Contains generally a higher-quality fat and carbohydrate than typical fare.
The Not-So Good
- Unhealthy for people who have trouble digesting protein and fat or for those with kidney disorders.
- The Atkins Diet spells constipation for many: A diet too low in fiber for proper elimination in many people.
- This diet over emphasizes common food allergens such as eggs & dairy products, and recommends processed meats and condiments containing potentially unhealthy additives.
Eric’s Instant Atkins Solutions
Get your bowel working well before embarking on the Atkins’ Diet, try a liver-cleansing approach for a week or two before embarking on the Atkins’ induction phase. It can make a big difference. Try LSA mix, Slippery elm Aloe vera or psyllium, they are all are good options here.
A good herbal liver formula taken two to three times per day in the initial two to three weeks at the outset will ensure better eliminations during the earliest and most important phase of this diet. Enquire with your practitioner or health-food shop.
Food allergies? Avoid the key allergenic foods: wheat, milk, eggs, bananas and corn.
One of the most important reasons for the popularity of the Atkins’ approach is it works–people lose lots of weight fast, but it’s generally water initially. Stored carbs holds on to large amounts of water. Switching to a low-carb & high protein diet results in the loss of these stores and the associated water, with an impressive initial weight loss.
Start on a good kidney formula, and drink lots of water during and after your induction phase, this will allow the kidneys to properly eliminate the metabolised proteins, fluids and ketones more efficiently.
Works fast, the induction phase is good for short term results, weight will come away fast initially. Not good to stay on this high protein approach for too long, you will age faster!
Why such popularity in protein diets?
Many people are desperate to lose weight, and some actually even want to become healthier!. The foods recommended in high-protein diets are the rich foods we were all raised with and learned to love. They are the traditional roasts, bacon and eggs, lamb chops, cheeses, and various other high protein offerings. There is no doubt that this diet works, but there is also no doubt that too much protein in one’s diet can lead long term to all sorts of complications as well.
High dietary protein: kidney damage & osteoporosis
The protein you consume is metabolised by your liver and excreted by the kidneys into the urine. A high protein load causes damage to these organs. By the time most people reach 80yrs of age, it is estimated that they lose over 30 percent of their kidney function This loss of kidney function is caused by the amount of protein typically consumed in the diet, about 12% to 15% The Zone diet recommends 30% protein, and even more protein (30 – 45%) is found in the Atkins approach. Doctors recommend low protein diets (4% to 8%) to treat patients with any liver and kidney failure.
High protein diets can cause serious metabolic changes leading to bone loss (osteoporosis) and kidney stones. Red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs are acid forming foods. Vegetable foods are alkaline by nature. The body guards its acid-base balance (pH) carefully, the dietary-derived acid load from high-protein animal foods must be buffered. The primary buffering system of the body is the bones which dissolve for that purpose into phosphates and calcium. This is the first step in bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. The presence of bone material in the kidney system lays the foundation for calcium-based kidney stones. The Nurse’s Health Study recently found women in America who consumed 95 grams of protein a day compared with those who consumed less than 68 grams a day had a 22% greater risk of forearm fractures
The Zone Diet
Barry Sears of the “Enter the Zone” claims the problem with our weight and health, specifically heart disease, is that high carbohydrate diets promote excessive production of specific hormones such as insulin. The secret to weight loss and preventing heart disease is controlling hormones into a narrow range referred to as “the Zone,” this can be achieved by adding more protein to the diet than is commonly consumed or recommended. The Zone diet can give people the false sense of security thinking that it is their hormones at fault, they are happy to hear that it’s not their fault they’re fat, “It’s my hormones that are the real culprit, I don’t have to feel guilty about being a glutton and not exercising.”
40% Carbohydrates: non-starchy vegetables and fruits, portion-controlled grains and legumes
30% Protein: low-fat animal protein (fish, seafood, poultry, lean meats and soy)
30% Fat: low-fat animal foods and small amounts of nuts, olive oil, avocados and cheese
Finally a diet which emphasizes lower-carb fruits and vegetables over grains, which many people don’t tolerate well.
Serves as a “bridge” between the very high-carb diets and the low-carb diets.
A good maintenance diet because it contains a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals, with a macronutrient balance to help stabilise blood sugar.
The Zone provides more insulin control than most other diets. This translates into greater fat loss and longevity since excess insulin is what helps make you fat and keeps you that way.
The Not-So Good
The Zone Diet is difficult to consistently follow for each meal and snack.
Contains common food allergens such as dairy products, eggs and soy products.
Like most American diets: The Zone Diet over emphasises common food allergens such as eggs & dairy products, and recommends processed meats, refined grain products and condiments containing potentially unhealthy additives.
Eric’s Instant Zone Solutions
I have found that people who take a good B Complex vitamin supplement two times daily fare better on the Zone Diet than others who don’t. You will metabolise the carbs better.
For those with established blood sugar problems, try 200mcg of Chromium picolinate once or twice per day with meals during the first few weeks of the Zone Diet. Better still, take Good Sugar, a product I use with excellent results with blood sugar balancing, weight loss and hypoglycemia (low-blood sugar).
Try a digestive enzyme for the stomach and small intestine if you burp or bloat.
Careful not to load up on dairy protein such as cheese, I’ve seen it happen on this diet.
A good approach more long term, expect results particularly after several months.
On Diets Correct dietary recommendations include eating fewer animal products and more plants foods have been made by every major health organisation, many select committees on nutrition, including the heart, cancer and diabetes associations. What do they all have in common? They all believe that chronic illnesses, including obesity, plaguing modern Western society, are generally caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and that improved health comes from regular exercise and by eating less food generally, consuming fewer animal protein products and having a diet rich in plant foods. So what are you going to do? See – it’s all common sense. But guess what, common sense is not really that common!
- Journal of Gerentology 31:155, 1976.
- The Zone (HarperCollins) by Barry Sears, Ph.D., with Bill Lawren;
- Mastering the Zone (HarperCollins) by Barry Sears, Ph.D.
- Protein Power (Bantam) by Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.;
- Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (Avon) by Robert C. Atkins, M.D.
- New England Journal of Medicine 307:652, 1982.
- American Journal of Epidemiology 143:472, 1996).
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