The Skinny On Protein Diets

by Gabriella Patel on August 17, 2012

High protein diets are a popular way to lose weight quickly. While a protein diet may not be the healthiest lifestyle choice in the long run, for those looking to kick start their diets or shed weight for a specific event, they are quite effective. Protein diets basically require dieters to give up all complex carbohydrates and fruits for the duration of the diet. Popular diet plans such as Atkins and the Dukan Diet use this high protein formula. On average, a dieter can expect to lose between 10-15 pounds on the first two weeks of the diet, if the rules are rigidly followed. Cheating can set back weight loss numbers significantly. On most protein diet plans, after the first two week “induction phase,” small quantities of complex carbs and fruit are allowed to be added back into your diet.

What is a Complex Carbohydrate?

A complex carb is anything processed, starchy or filled with natural or chemical sugars. For example: rice, bread and pasta are complex carbs — as are all breads, pasta and rice. Potatoes, carrots, legumes, corn and beans also register as complex carbs. Fruits, due to their glucose levels, are also forbidden on a protein diet. Anything that is packaged or processed would also not be allowed. On the first few weeks of a high protein diet, you should not eat over 20 grams of carbohydrates each day. You should also avoid juices and soda (due to their sodium content). Coffee, water and tea are permissible. Be careful of the sweetener used in drinks, you cannot have sugar on a protein diet. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet n’ Low have 1 gram of carbohydrates in each packet. The only artificial sweetener that does not have carbs is Stevia. Non-dairy creamers and milk are also loaded with carbs, either use gingerly and measure or avoid them during the first two weeks of protein diets.

Typical Breakfast

A protein diet meal for breakfast typically involve eggs or egg substitutes. The Atkins Diet claims that you can lose weight while adding bacon, sausage and other meats to each meal. However, as protein diets have matured, it is thought that low fat choices are better during the induction phase. Good foods for breakfast include eggs or Egg Beaters with low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, Lox with capers. Turkey bacon or chicken sausage can be added to any meal.


For lunch, protein dieters tend to stick with 7 oz. of lean protein. Remember the goal here is to eat all protein. Chicken, turkey medallions, turkey burger, tofu or fish is a good choice. After the initial few weeks on the diet, you can add a salad, asparagus, green beans or another low-carb vegetable. You will want to stay away from potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, squash and carrots for the length of your diet. While using butter is allowed, and preferred over margarine (which has carbs), use it sparingly — sticking to 1 tsp. or less with each meal. Try to use PAM where possible or another non-stick cooking spray. Make sure to count the carbs in the spray and butter to not go over the allotted 20 grams each day.


Dinner is basically a repeat of lunch. You might want to add a bigger serving of protein to keep you full through the remainder of the evening.


Jell-O with 1 TBP. of Cool Whip is the snack of choice for low protein dieters, registering at just 1 carb. With the rise of low protein diets there are many low carb choices available in stores to check out.

Long Haul

It is easy to see why some people don’t make it two weeks on a protein diet, as the choices are very slim and it is easy to get bored. A dieter needs to be rigid and unforgiving on a plan like this for the weight numbers to move in significant ways. Usually the first four to six pounds of weight loss are water weight, as eating no carbs forces your body to expel excess water. After that, fat burning kicks in, letting dieters lose a lot of weight quickly.

The difficulty is keeping the initial weight loss off after you return to a regular diet. Most dieters immediately experience weight gain when they return to eating carbohydrates. People that have had success on low carb diets, remain low carb dieters for life. It is the only way to keep the weight from returning. For special events, where you need to lose weight fast, a diet like this can be great — as it allows you to drop the desired amount of weight in very little time. Those looking for sustained lifelong weight loss might want to explore a more sensible approach of counting calories and getting daily exercise. Cutting 500 calories from your diet will result in a one pound weight loss each week.

Gabriella Patel

Gabriella Patel

Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
I grew up in a family who has a long history in natural supplements. I've always found such a greater level of health and well being because of the choices I've made to seek natural and organic products. I've taken a lot of my knowledge now to be able to help others make the right decisions to achieve a higher level of wellness. From what I've seen most of where the problems come from is what we put in our bodies, and what we're not. I hope to shed some light on many issues we all face. Subscribe to my work Gabriella's favorite product is Detox Diet 1234
Gabriella Patel

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