High Protein and Fat Diets Aren't Good Solutions

High Protein and Fat Diets Aren't Good Solutions_fatty.jpg It is a common belief that by increasing the amount of protein we eat and drastically reducing carbohydrates, we can lose weight rapidly.

High-protein/high-fat diets do, in fact, induce rapid weight loss. But in the first week or so, those pounds dropped are mostly the result of water loss, not body fat. After that, loss of body fat will occur if your calorie intake is below your energy expenditure. Some people find this easier to accomplish on a high-protein regimen because the foods allowed make us feel full.

But others will find it impossible to live with the monotony of a diet consisting mainly of meat, eggs and dairy products without also enjoying a variety of cereals, pasta, potatoes and breads. Fruit and fruit juice, being high in carbohydrate, are also severely restricted.

Key to the rapid weight loss in high-protein/high-fat diets is converting the body's metabolism into what nutritionists call a state of ketosis. This normally occurs only during starvation conditions, but also can be achieved by virtually eliminating carbohydrates. Ketosis can be an uncomfortable state, making many people feel sick and tired, not to mention giving them bad breath.

Other problems arise as the body copes with a lot of protein. Stress on the kidney increases, with the possibility of kidney stones. With ketosis, a chemical called uric acid can build up in the blood, leading to gout, a painful condition of the toes and joints. Osteoporosis is also a concern. Not only is calcium low in the diet, but it is excreted from the body along with the excess protein. And the large amount of saturated fat in the diet raises the risk of heart disease.

Numerous studies have borne out that the healthiest diet is high in whole grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables, with only a small amount of fat, especially minimizing the saturated fat found in meat and cheese. Such a diet, which is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, is associated with a reduced incidence of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many cancers. By following a high-protein, high-fat and low-carbohydrate regimen, you throw out a vast wealth of scientific knowledge about good nutrition.

What about going on the high-protein/high-fat diet for just a few months, long enough to lose some excess weight? Many people do this. When they return to their normal diet, their weight creeps back up to previous levels or even higher. In frustration, they try another fad diet, hoping this next one will do the trick.

Such a routine is not effective for the ultimate goal of long-term weight loss. Our best choice is to make permanent lifestyle changes so that weight loss can be achieved and maintained.

How do you accomplish that? Look carefully at your diet, and see what habit you can give up or change for the better. For starters, try the following:

When dieting, you need more protein. Add a bit more, but don't overdo it.

  1. Arm yourself for snack attacks with healthy "fast food." Eliminate chips, cookies and ice cream from your home. Instead, have on hand low-fat, flavored yogurts, cut-up fruits or vegetables with a low-fat dip etc.
  2. If you feel you must have chocolate, keep only small quantities of treats on hand and limit yourself to one a day at a planned time. Eat something healthy beforehand to fill you up so you aren't tempted to go overboard.
  3. Stop eating before you are full. Leave the table, brush your teeth, and don't return to the kitchen until you know your desire for food has passed.
  4. Add a dash of exercise to your weight loss recipe. Without it, weight control is virtually impossible. Everyone can find just five minutes to walk around the block each day. Remember that the important thing is to start a new habit. Add another minute a day, until you have a good 20 to 30 minute exercise routine.