Protein Power, the New York Times best-seller, written by Michael and Mary Dan Eades, popularized the concept of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets for losing weight and becoming healthier. Millions of copies of the book were sold and more and more people were introduced to the new weight loss method. The diet has lots of proteins while carbohydrate intake is reduced from 30 grams to 60 grams. The diet is based on the theory that decreasing the amount of carbohydrates in one's diet reduces the levels of insulin in the blood, and aids in weight loss. High levels of the hormone insulin have several effects like production of more body fat, increased levels of cholesterol, and increased retention of fluid in kidneys.
The amount of proteins recommended varies depending on the individual and depends on body fat, lean body mass, and physical activity level. Major protein sources for the diet include fish, poultry, red meat, low-fat cheese, eggs, and tofu. The source of carbohydrates include green, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, and mushrooms. The diet also suggests about eight glasses of water. Low quantity of carbohydrates in the diet reduces the levels of insulin, which increases the production of glucagon. Glucagon triggers the breakdown of stored fat in the body and helps with weight loss.
One of the advantages of this diet, according to experts, is that it helps in preserving the lean mass of the body. Thus, the dieter retains the muscles but loses reserved body fat which adds to body weight. While the loss of body weight is obvious it may also lead to inadequate intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
There are few concerns with this diet:
- Intake of vitamin D and calcium reduces and this may lead to osteoporosis
- Risk of coronary heart disease increases, as the diet permits the intake of saturated fats
- It may be difficult to strictly follow and sustain the diet as fruits, sweets, and baked foods are not allowed.
- Inadequate intake of micronutrients that are not obtained through supplements
- Reduced quantity of foods that have multiple health benefits which may affect the health in the long run