Protein diet

The protein diet is probably the diet that has been the most talked about in recent years. There is no one, however, but several protein diets and the offer keeps on renewing each year. These high-protein diets generally consist of consuming meat, eggs, fish, or even protein powders at will and drastically restricting the consumption of other foods. Protein diets are very controversial in the nutrition and health fields.

Features of the protein diet:

  • Based on unlimited consumption of meat, eggs, and fish at each meal
  • Risks to the renal and cardiovascular systems
  • Dramatic but often fleeting weight loss
  • High risk of side effects, deficiencies and transit disorders
  • The vegetarian protein diet seems to be a more interesting variant

The main principles of the diet

The protein diets are diverse and varied, they range from the protein diet designed by Pierre Dukan to diets based on sachets of protein powder or protein shakers widely used in the sports world. These diets have existed since the 1970s and are regularly updated with new products or books that always use the same basic recommendations.

How does the natural protein diet work?

In high protein diets, you can eat lean meat, fish, and eggs at will as well as vegetables. Fruits and oilseeds should be consumed in moderation while grains and legumes should be banned from the diet. The goal is to have a significant and rapid weight loss.

How does the protein diet make you lose weight?

It is by tapping into the sugar reserves (glycogen) that the weight loss begins. The fat mass decreases only slightly during this type of diet, it is the diuretic effect which makes it possible to eliminate several kilos of water with a hyper protein diet.

The large intake of protein allows you to be well satisfied and reduce the feeling of hunger that can exist when you follow a low-calorie diet.

How long does the natural protein diet for weight loss last?

The duration is very variable depending on the method chosen. It is on average between 1 and 6 months. Going beyond this is strictly advised due to the many health risks these diets represent.

Permitted foods and prohibited foods in the protein diet

There is not one but several different protein diets. Even if the basic principle remains the same, authorized foods and prohibited foods can vary slightly from one method to another. In outline, here are the foods that are allowed and the foods that are prohibited in most protein diets. For the exact authorized consumption frequencies, please refer to the method in question (eg Dukan).

Authorized foodsProhibited foods
Red meat
Oat bran
Some greens
Some sweet vegetables (carrot, beet, etc.)
Sweet fruits (banana, cherry, grape)
products Industrial and processed products

Protein diet menu (woman and man)

Here is a typical menu for a day of high protein diet. The portions indicated correspond to the needs of a woman of average build and having a normal physical activity (30 minutes per day). For men, athletes, or other special situations, be sure to increase calorie intake. For this, you can add one to two snacks between meals.

Breakfast1 coffee
2 eggs
1 slice of chicken breast
LunchVeal cutlet 150 g
Zucchini with turmeric
Fruit salad
Snack1 handful of almonds
Having dinnerPumpkin soup
Cod en papillote with spinach 150 g
Cottage cheese


Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of the high protein diet

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Satiety facilitated by protein intake
  • Requires little cooking

The negative points of the natural protein diet

  • Weight regain and the inevitable yo-yo effect
  • Weakens the renal system
  • Increases cardiovascular risk and blood cholesterol
  • Not compatible with an active social life
  • Unpleasant side effects (bad breath, fatigue, etc.)
  • Monotonous and frustrating
  • Significant risk of deficiencies
  • Too little fiber and carbohydrates
  • High cost price because meat and fish to consume in large quantities

Recommendations and precautions

Are there any risks?

This diet is not recommended for people with kidney failure and can damage the kidneys if there is too much daily intake of meat and fish.

Also, some high protein diets indicate that red meats are to be eaten at will, however, they contain saturated fatty acids, even in lean pieces, which will tend to increase blood cholesterol levels. In the long term, this type of high protein diet, therefore, represents a risk for the cardiovascular system.

Is it a diet for you?

Whatever your situation, following a long-term high protein diet is not recommended. With such a diet, you are almost guaranteed to regain the weight you had lost and to weaken your body. Nothing beats a high quality and varied diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Are the protein diet and sports (bodybuilding) a good mix?

Contrary to popular belief, the high protein diet is not suitable for the intensive practice of a sport that requires an intake of carbohydrates to rebuild muscle after exercise. Adopting a protein diet does not promote mass gain, we also consider that an intake of more than 2g of protein per kg per day no longer has any interest in the body. It is even then that it becomes dangerous.

Is there a vegetarian protein diet?

There is a vegetarian variant to the protein diet. This variant is only based on vegetable proteins and has the advantage of not promoting the consumption of red meats rich in saturated fatty acids. Also, it is suitable for vegetarians. In this variant, the animal proteins are replaced by cereals, oilseeds, tofu, soybeans, or even grain-based meat similis. The vegetarian protein diet also promotes the consumption of quality vegetables and fats. Starchy foods are not banned, but their consumption is moderate. It would seem that this vegetarian protein diet is a much better health option.

How not to gain weight?

After such a restrictive diet, weight gain and the yo-yo effect are almost inevitable. To avoid this, nothing beats a varied and balanced diet combined with regular physical activity.

Dietitian’s opinion on the protein diet

This diet is, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous for the body since it weakens the renal system and can cause significant cardiovascular complications. With the many restrictions that it implies, it also tends to isolate the person who follows the diet and does not help to adopt good eating habits. In parallel, the ecological impact of this type of diet is considerable given the far too large quantities of meat consumed. In conclusion, I do not in any way recommend this type of diet which goes against all sensible nutritional recommendations.

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