The high-protein diet has become the corner stone of dietetics, both for its efficiency and for its ability to correct metabolic disorders.
The high-protein diet is aimed at reducing the ingestion of lipids and glucides, maintaining protein intake which keeps the nitrogenous balance stable. This compels the organism to consume its own reserves, first glucides and then lipids, resulting in specific weight loss in the accumulated fatty tissue deposits.
The high-protein diet requires the following of a strict nutritional plan where dos basic rules must be adhered to:
The reason for following these guidelines are:
We must be certain that we are losing fatty mass and not lean mass (muscle). In order to avoid protein consumption, a minimum intake of 1.2 to 1.5 gr. / kg of body weight, depending on sex, must be assured. This is why the proteins must be of the highest quality, with an excellent PER (Protein Efficiency Rating) and a chemical index above 100.
The human organism requires energy to perform its duties. A spontaneous source of energy is glycolysis, which goes through the Krebs cycle (citric acid cycle) and metabolises glucose to obtain energy. But our metabolism can only store a few hundred grams of glucose for an half a day of activity. If the ingestion of carbohydrates is omitted and the entire organism’s glucose consumed, no sugars remain to be burnt for energy. Therefore, the organism activates another form of obtaining energy, known as Beta oxidation: the body obtains energy from the accumulated fat in the organism.
Beta oxidation generates energy from the accumulated fat, but leaves a residue: ketone bodies that produce a state of ketosis: acetone or ketone bodies are the only substances in the organism with a “hunger-stopping” effect. 72 hours after starting the diet, the concentration of ketone bodies in the blood is high enough to obstruct hunger. Ketone bodies also have a psychostimulant effect that maximises the feeling of well-being.
Once Beta oxidation is initiated, accumulated energy is obtained from the accumulated fat provided that we are not including them simultaneously in the diet. To assure the burning of accumulated fat we must not take in carbohydrates or fats. Otherwise, the slimming process would be interrupted.
The high-protein diet is divided into three stages that include the association of a protein fast with an eating behaviour adjustment therapy to insure greater, long-term weight loss.
The high-protein diet consists of nutrition based on purified protein preparations, high in biological value with the progressive addition in time of vegetables, fruit and starches after phase 1 and with the additional help of micronutrients (minerals, essential fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements) to avoid diet-related deficiencies. The high-protein preparations are usually presented in a variety of formats and flavours made to satisfy the tastes and needs of each patient at all times throughout the day. These can be cold or hot chocolate, strawberry or vanilla flavoured drinks, high-protein bars, purées, soups and stews, bread, puddings, mousses, yoghurts, etc.
A target weight loss is set and 80% of the loss will be programmed for this initial stage. The physician should prescribe the type of high-quality protein satchels to be taken by the patient as well as the exact intake of salt, calcium, potassium, vitamins and trace elements according to a preliminary clinical study.
Within the first stage, in the first weeks, the laboratory-based protein diet is complemented solely with vegetables. In the following weeks, two protein preparation-based meals a day are substituted by compound nutrients almost exclusively of meats, fowls or fish: 200 gr per meal.
This stage requires the patient to drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
In order to increase the basal metabolic rate, the patient must exercise every day (for example: a 30 minute walk).
In this stage, weight loss continues by learning to eat better and by introducing nutrients such as fruit, bread and starches into the diet. It is normally structured in five levels that include the progressive inclusion of nutrients and the substitution of the protein preparations.
It is vital to follow the medical indications for the intake of nutrients and to progressively increase daily exercise.
This is the nutritional diversification stage. New foods will be consumed by the patient (fruit, bread, starches, etc.) whilst they continue to lose weight until a ponderal balance is reached.
The intake of optimum quality high protein products should be in the mid-morning and afternoon tea. The physician should maintain contact with the patient to reinforce the most important dietary rules, such as:
This is the moment to continue with the body’s reshaping by exercising, as its advantages are important both in the short and in the long term. Exercise aids in weight loss and maintains it, because:
In the short term:
In the long term:
The high-protein diet will always be successful if the rules are followed. The average weight loss for a male on a high protein diet in a period of 28 days is 10 kg and between 7 and 9 for a female.
The advantages of a high protein diet versus other diets are:
The physician may need to run tests to measure the percentages of water, fat and muscle in the body throughout all the stages. Other more precise diagnostic techniques may also be needed such as tomographs or magnetic resonance.
Orthostatic hypotension can be controlled by and adequate balance of sodium that is fundamental to patient comfort in high-protein diets.
Menstrual disorders may occur due to the alteration of oestrogen synthesis shared by the ovaries and the fat. When considerable weight loss takes place in any type of diet, there is always an adjustment period where the ovaries adapt and increase oestrogen production to accommodate and organism with a lower rate of adipose tissue.
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