high protein diet for weight loss

Why A High Protein Diet For Weight Loss Is Not Sustainable

There are many unbalanced weight loss diets on the market and essentially they all fall into 3 categories: high protein diet for weight loss, high carb (carbohydrate) and fasting diets.

Although the proponents of such approaches claim that they work “miracles”, none of these regimes are sustainable over a long period of time.

The basis of the protein-rich dieting plans is to drastically reduce the intake of carbs and allow unrestricted fatty and protein foods consumption. A good example of a high protein diet is the original Atkins diet (actually, by now they have modified their approach and allow more carbs) and Scarsdale diet.

Advocates of high protein diets explain the reason people are overweight or obese is not because of the fat they eat, but because of hyperinsulinism and insulin resistance. Insulin, the major regulator of fuel storage and release, is synthesized by the pancreas and secreted into the blood stream after we eat. Insulin stimulates the synthesis of fat, protein, and glycogen (the storage form for sugars). It encourages fat cells to store fat and prevents its release these cells. Therefore, high levels of insulin, known as hyperinsulinism, would be expected to promote weight gain and eventually obesity. (McDougall)

In this article I will show you:

  • why you can only use a high protein diet only for a short period of time
  • why a high protein diet may be detrimental to your health when used for a long time.


Processes Which Take Place During A High Protein Diet For Weight Loss

By severely restricting carbohydrate intake while allowing high fat and high protein consumption the body resorts to protein and fat reserves for energy fuel. Eventually, the body is forced into a state of ketosis. During this process ketones (acidic substances) are formed. These cause ketosis, a state where the individual loses appetite, develops nausea and fatigue. People don’t feel like eating and in turn take in less calories and naturally, weight is lost.

The other problem with these approaches is that the body needs glucose and since it is not getting it from the food (since carbs are severely restricted) the body resorts to using its glycogen stores for glucose. Since glycogen is stored in muscles and liver, these stores are depleted and the dieter not only loses pounds but also loses muscle mass. Such process causes stress and may cause damage to the liver.


As well, a link between high cholesterol levels and heart disease is well known. It is also known that a large amount of fatty foods in the diet increases the cholesterol levels in blood. As high protein diets also promote consumption of fat-rich foods one can assume that a high protein diet may be associated with high risk of coronary disease.

When glycogen is turned into glucose a lot of water is lost and that will account for the significant and almost immediate weight loss when using a high protein diet. In other words, the diet is not resulting in fat reduction. Rather a dieter is losing water.

At the same time, ketones have a diuretic effect on the kidneys and as a result also a large amount of bodily fluid is lost. Once again, more fluid is lost, more weight loss is noted.

Last, but not least the water loss will cause constipation and many dieters complain about severe constipation, a problem that not only can cause health problem but also a major discomfort to the dieter.

Although these diets are very unhealthy, they gained popularity because they delivered almost immediate results. Unfortunately, what the dieters did not realize was that short term, these results are not real. The weight loss was only illusionary.

A weight loss diet high in protein is not recommended long term. But if for any reason you want to try such an approach to lose weight quickly, you should always consult a physician before attempting such an approach.

In conclusion, you should not use high protein diet for weight loss over a long period of time as you may risk serious health issues. As well, any weight loss based on such a diet approach will not be permanent because eating too much protein and depriving yourself of carbohydrates is not sustainable over a long period of time. When you return to your normal eating habits you will regain all you lost plus more.


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