High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diets
High protein, low carbohydrate diets have been widely promoted in
recent years as an effective approach to losing weight.
These diets generally recommend dieters receive 30% to
50% of their total calories from protein . By
comparison, the American Heart Association, the National
Cholesterol Education Program and the American
Cancer Society all recommend a diet in which only
10% to 15% of calories are derived from protein
(nutrients essential to the building, maintenance and
repair of tissues in the body).
The Atkins diet is an example of a high protein, low
How Do These Diets Work?
By restricting carbohydrates drastically to a mere
fraction of that found in the typical American diet, the
body goes into a different metabolic state called
ketosis, whereby it
burns its own fat for fuel. Normally the body burns
carbohydrates for fuel -- this is the main source of
fuel for your brain, heart and many other organs. A
person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones,
little carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the
breakdown of fat stores. When the body is in ketosis,
you tend to feel less hungry, and thus you're likely to
eat less than you might otherwise. However, ketosis can
also cause health problems, such as
kidney failure (see below).