Check out the pros and cons of two popular high protein diets, the Atkins Diet and the Dukan diet.
It’s hard to believe that swapping your breakfast croissant with an omelette may actually help you lose weight. Ask anyone who’s traded carbohydrates for proteins, and they will tell you how quickly the extra kilos dropped. The fact is that sticking to proteins triggers biochemical changes in the body. You end up burning more calories.
Feelings of satiety are high
One huge advantage of high protein diets is the feeling of fullness they impart. Unlike other diets, protein based meals tend to satisfy hunger more effectively. The typical hunger pangs associated with low calorie diets, are generally absent. Binge eating is also rare.
But there’s another, darker side to the picture. Nutritionists warn against long term use of high protein diets. They say that forsaking carbs and eating too much protein, can be hazardous: protein foods raise the likelihood of developing ketosis – a state in which the body burns fat for energy, making you more prone to heart disease.
#1 The Atkins diet
- The Atkins diet consists of a two-week, high-protein low-carbohydrate plan that allows you to eat vast quantities of meat and fat. Cereal based and plant based foods are virtually absent. So you can eat chicken, meat, sausages, cheese and eggs to your heart’s content, but bread, pasta, rice and potatoes are off the menu.
- The plan is incomplete nutritionally, and may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the long-term. Since fat is used as an energy source instead of carbohydrates and sugars, uric acid levels in the body may rise, leading to kidney problems. Short term side-effects include headaches, low blood sugar, fatigue, smelly breath and constipation, due to the low fibre content.
- The newer version of this diet, called the “modified Atkins” is relatively healthier, since it includes wholegrain bread, brown rice and fruit, and grilled foods in place of fried ones.
#2 The Dukan diet
- The Dukan diet also focuses on protein. It severely limits all carbohydrates including fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains.Unlike Atkins however, this advocates low fat sources of protein such as fish, lean poultry and low fat dairy products. Vegetables also feature prominently.
- Dieters are advised to drink at least three litres of water a day. 20 minutes of daily exercise is vital too.
- Like the Atkins plan, the Dukan diet also deprives you of fibre, fat and some essential vitamins and minerals. Rapid weight loss is more likely to be due to the loss of fluid and muscle mass. Dehydration, fatigue and moodiness are other common complaints.