High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have been around for almost 40 years, according to MayoClinic staff. If you are trying to lose weight quickly, a protein only diet may be able to help. Following a protein only diet involves eliminating all carbohydrates and getting all your nutrition from protein. By doing this, you can lose up to 15 lbs in two weeks, according to the Atkins Diet website. But it is important to understand the risks and drawbacks of this diet because it can lead to nutritional decencies, increased risk of cancer or other health complications.
Robert C. Atkins created the Atkins diet in 1972. This diet is believed to have started the high-protein, low-carbohydrate trends. Since then, many other high-protein diets such as the South Beach Diet have surfaced. The claim behind these diets is based on the fact that the body burns carbohydrates first. By eliminating carbohydrates you force your body to burn stored fat instead.
A protein only diet takes low-carbohydrate diets a step further by eliminating them all together. This boosts weight loss and forces the body to completely rely on stored fat. This is a difficult diet to follow. Under this plan you do not eat sugary baked goods, breads, pastas, grains, fruits, nuts or alcohol. Instead, you will consume fish, skinless chicken, lean beef, pork and low-fat dairy products.
Studies have found that people do lose weight on these diets. Initially, the weight loss is more rapid than normal diets. But studies have found that overtime protein-only diets lead to the same amount of weight loss as any calorie-restricting diet. Therefore, many nutritionists attribute the weight loss to the calorie restriction because under this diet you have fewer food choices and are likely to eat less.
If you chose to follow this diet be sure to pick healthy protein sources. If you get most your protein from red meat, you may increase your risk of heart disease, according to Katherine Zeratsky, nutritionist. Or if you get your protein from full-fat dairy products or full-fat peanut butter, you may gain weight instead of losing it.
If you follow a protein only diet for too long you may experience nutritional deficiencies, according to Zeratsky. You also may not have enough fiber. This can lead to constipation and could increase your risk for some types of cancer. If you have kidney or liver disease, diabetes or are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before starting a protein only diet.