Protein diets to help lose weight

Updated February 21, 2017

Weight-loss protein diets recommend that your protein intake be in the form of lean meats, soy products, and low-fat dairy products. In addition, the carbohydrates you consume should come from fruits and vegetables instead of grains. Avoid low-protein eating plans, unless your doctor prescribes it because of a liver or kidney problem, as explained on, a gastroenterology site. But if you’re looking to lose weight, you have several protein-filled options.

Atkins Diet

Even if your radar is not tuned to the diet channel, you must have heard of the Atkins Diet. Its big promise is that you’ll lose up to 15 pounds the first two weeks. This diet is named after its creator, the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins. Through his research, Atkins noticed that when his patients eliminated processed carbohydrates from their daily menu, they burned fat and lost weight. This observation in the early 1960s launched the Atkins Diet, a four-stage eating plan. In phase one of the program, you eat only 20 grams of carbohydrates daily from vegetables. In phase two, you’re allowed to take in 25 grams of non-refined carbohydrates. In the third phase, you experiment with a higher amount of carbohydrates to see how your body does. If you notice regression, you have to go back to 25 grams of carbohydrates. Phase four is the ongoing maintenance stage. This phase begins after you reach your weight goal and after you know how many grams of carbohydrates you can eat without increasing your weight. Your average protein intake on this diet is 31 percent daily; fat is 56 percent, according to “Living the Low-Carb Life: From Atkins to the Zone, Choosing the Diet That’s Right for You," a 2004 book by Jonny Bowden.

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet takes you through a three-stage weight-loss program. Phase 1 lasts two weeks, but you stay in phase 2 until you reach your weight goal. Then, you move on to phase three, where you maintain a diet that supports your new size. This eating plan is the product of a cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston, who devised it to help people improve their health, not simply lose weight. Although he doesn’t call his program a low-carb/high-protein diet, you start out by spending two weeks eating no carbohydrates from grains or fruit--only vegetables. The bulk of your meals are made of meats, including seafood. The South Beach Diet guidelines also tell you what to eat without requiring you to count grams of carbohydrates or percentages of protein and fat. After the initial, virtually carb-free phase, your daily meals include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats, with a focus on lean meats.

Zone Diet

The word “zone” in this diet’s name refers to a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Dr. Barry Sears devised this diet plan, and he says that when these three elements are out of balance, your insulin rises--causing weight gain. While on this diet, you’re required to eat your first meal of the day within one hour of waking, followed by four others distributed throughout the day. While awake, you can’t go without food for more than five hours. Your carbohydrates should come from fruits and vegetables, not processed grains, and you need to drink 4.5 litres of water a day. Sears also bases his eating plan on the argument that humans didn’t eat grains until 10,000 years ago. Until then, people mostly had a carnivorous diet made of low-fat meats complemented by fruits and vegetables. If you’re on the Zone Diet, you eat about 110 grams of protein per meal. This means that although this is a protein-based diet, it isn’t a high-protein diet. The quality of the protein also matters. It has to be low-fat and the sources Sears recommends are soy, skinless chicken, turkey, fish, other lean meats, low-fat dairy, and egg whites.

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About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.