When looking to lose weight, you are naturally interested in the most efficient ways to complete the task at hand. One popular dieting solution is the combination of a higher protein diet with consumption of low-glycemic index carbs. Through this combination, you can effectively regulate blood sugar and insulin levels without resorting to a full-blown low-carb diet. This method of dieting has the advantage of providing similar weight loss benefits to a low-carb diet without the psychological drawbacks of eating nothing but meat for weeks on end.
High Protein, Glycemic Index, and Dieting
Effective weight loss is largely about self-regulation of blood sugar, insulin levels and metabolism through dietary manipulations and exercise. A high-protein, low-GI diet will accomplish all of these goals. Insulin is the primary storage hormone in your body, released in proportion to the amount of sugar within the blood, or blood sugar level. Blood sugar is typically raised by consumption of carbohydrates, with faster-digesting carbs causing a higher spike in blood sugar. Insulin bonds with the sugar in the blood, carrying it into fat and muscle cells for storage or energy.
The Glycemic Index is a scale that ranks foods depending on how heavily they affect blood sugar levels--the higher the rating, the more blood sugar is raised, the more insulin is released and the greater chance that the energy will be stored as fat. Thus, by controlling blood sugar by confining yourself to low-GI carbs, you will minimize fat storage and more effectively carry out your dieting goals.
High protein helps in this equation by increasing the number of calories burned through the thermic effect of food, indirectly boosting your metabolism. The thermic effect of food states that your body burns calories while digesting food with protein having the highest "cost" of digestion. Therefore, eating additional protein forces your body to burn more calories throughout the day.
Rules of a High-Protein, Low-GI Diet
To follow a high-protein, low-GI diet, first you must decide how high your high-protein intake should be. Protein needs are based on your activity level--the more work you do during the day, the more protein your body needs to repair the damage. The American Dietetics Association recommends a protein intake of 0.4g per pound of body weight for individuals who perform no exercise at all, 0.65g per pound of body weight for endurance athletes, and 0.8g per pound of body weight for weightlifters. A high protein diet is a diet consisting of roughly 10 percent more protein than absolutely needed.
Now that you know your protein intake, you should aim to divide it equally across your planned meals. A goal of consuming five or six smaller meals during the day is a good plan when dieting, so if you need 180g of protein during the day (and are eating six meals), plan on consuming 30g of protein per meal. The best protein sources are lean protein sources--meat, chicken, fish, turkey and eggs. Protein powder is also acceptable in limited amounts, but the bulk of your diet should come from solid foods.
With protein intake covered, round out your meals by consuming a low-GI fruit and a low-GI vegetable with every meal. Sample low-GI fruits include cherries, grapefruits, apples, pears, strawberries, oranges and grapes. Sample low-GI vegetables include broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, mushrooms and red peppers. Consuming one fruit and one vegetable with every meal will ensure that you stay full while providing your body with plenty of essential vitamins.
Finally, round out your daily intake with healthy fats. Healthy fats include limited amounts of saturates (animal fats) and a larger amount of mono and polyunsaturates (olive oil, fish oil, coconuts, avocados, peanut oil, sesame oil and nuts). Consume at least some healthy fats with each meal to balance your daily intake of macronutrients.