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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

Low carb and high protein - advice please?

Hi there, I was just wondering if I could pick your brains about Low Carb & High Protein diets. I've been advised to eat low carb and more protein by my gym instructor, but I have a horrid vague memory of doing Atkins about 10 years ago and losing loads of weight but feeling awful on it. I've done a lot of research and still want to follow the NC guidelines as much as possible, but today for example I am way over my fat for the day because of what I've eaten and am planning to eat for dinner when I get home from work. Could you take a look at my food and just let me know if you think I could have some problems coming my way or if you think I'll be ok please? Typical days menu will be: Breakfast: 2-3 egg whites scambled and sprinkled with flax powder, with a few mushrooms and thick slice of either turkey or ham. Mid morning snack: 20g mature cheddar Lunch: Chicken or fish with salad leaves and red pepper, some pineapple. Mid afternoon snack: Small pack of plain cashews / macadamia nuts Dinner: Lean meat with around 200g vegetables (I've a fridge full of courgettes and runner beans at the moment from hubby's allotment). Evening snack: Peanut butter on a dark rye ryvita. Drinks will be plenty water, 2 cups of coffee with sweeter and skimmed milk. I'm aiming for under 50g carbs per day and 150g-170g protein per day (as advised by the gym guy) but I'd love your thoughts on this as I'm going to be eating less fruit than I have been so far. Many thanks x

A.

Our expert says...

Hi there,

Thanks for your email and welcome to Nutracheck.

Although the advice you've been given by your PT is fine if you're looking to lose weight quickly and for a short period of time, following a low carb / high protein diet isn't something that should be sustained over a long period of time.

The reason for this is that the way protein and fat are metabolised is different from carbohydrates - our bodies are designed to use carbohydrates as our main energy source. When carb levels are low, other nutrients (i.e. protein and fats) are used to provide energy to the body, and in particular the brain, functioning. They are broken down to something called 'ketone bodies'. These are actually toxins which the body aims to get rid of as quickly as possible, and can make you feel rotten (like you said you did on the Atkins Diet).

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to follow a healthy balanced diet, with a good balance of all the nutrients - rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins and low in fat. This provides a low calorie, healthy option which is sustainable long term, and provides all the essential nutrients from each food group.

That said, following the diet your PT has suggested for a couple of weeks to kickstart your weight loss will be fine - I just wouldn't recommend it in the long term.

Hope that helps and if you need anything else please don't hesitate to get back in touch.

Many thanks,

Janet

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