High-protein diets can be healthy and effective for long-term fat loss, but there are a few things you have to do to make them work.
First, you need to get enough fiber every day because without adequate fiber, inflammatory markers rise, compromising health and body composition. One study showed that C-reactive protein (a primary marker of cardiovascular inflammation) and LDL cholesterol both increase in a high-protein diet that doesn’t contain adequate fiber.
In addition, studies of people with more lean muscle mass due to a higher protein intake indicate that they have higher levels of oxidative stress markers in their blood than those with lower protein intake.
Researchers suggest the best diet for body composition and health is a diet high in fiber and protein that includes carbohydrates strictly from low-glycemic sources.
But, fiber is so commonly deficient in high-protein diets that this research group writes that they would rather see people eat a higher carbohydrate diet because it will automatically be higher in fiber, which has a greater positive impact on cardiovascular and overall health, even if more body fat is present.
The BEST solution is to eat a high-protein diet that is high in fiber from lower carb vegetables and fruit. Some people benefit from supplemental fiber because the body will adapt very quickly to certain fibers, meaning that it’s useful to rotate the kind of fiber you eat every week or so.
The second thing you must do to make a high-protein diet work is to reach a “threshold dose” of quality protein daily.
The optimal protein threshold dose appears to be at least 1.5 g/kg of body weight of protein a day. This dose will stimulate protein synthesis, which will increase energy expenditure, raising the metabolic rate, and further supporting fat loss.
Another strategy to ensure you get the threshold dose of protein is to focus on the quality of protein. One study found that by eating at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) three or more times a day, you will maximally stimulate protein synthesis and favor fat burning in the body.
For reference, a 25-gram dose of whey protein provides about 10 grams of EAAs.
Take Away Points:
- The most important thing you can do to improve a high-protein diet is to get adequate fiber every day from a variety of sources.
- Eat low-glycemic vegetables at every meal and plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits.
- Shoot for a threshold dose of protein at every meal.