By continuing use this site, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and our use of cookies.
High-protein diet

High-protein diet


Protein's vital role in building and maintaining muscle means that anyone who exercises regularly needs to take a close look at their protein intake to make sure they're getting enough.

But the power of protein goes far beyond massive muscle gains. Even if you're not an exercise junkie, increasing the amount of protein you consume can help you lose weight.

There are well-known high-protein diets, such as the Dukan or Atkins diets. However, a person can increase his or her own protein intake by adjusting, or not, his or her consumption of other food groups.

In this article, we explain how to follow a high-protein diet, the foods to include and exclude, and the beneficial and undesirable effects of adopting this diet.

How much protein and calories should you eat ?

In order to follow a protein-rich diet, you need to know some figures. The most important thing is to determine how much protein you need, obviously, as well as the amounts of carbohydrates and fats that will also go into your diet. The following is one way to develop a protein-rich diet for yourself, although there are others.

1 - Determine your calorie intake

The first thing to do is calculate your calorie requirements. You can do this very easily using an online calculator, although practice makes perfect. Once you have your DEJ, the daily energy expenditure that enables you to maintain your current weight, you can convert your calorie requirements into macronutrient requirements.

If you're looking to lose weight, you'll need to maintain a daily calorie deficit. For example, 2000 kcal instead of 2500 kcal per day (your maintenance). With a high-protein diet, you'll need to cut back on carbohydrates and maintain a decent fat intake.

2 - Assess your macronutrient requirements

To assess your macronutrient requirements, you need to break down calories into proteins, fats and carbohydrates to determine how much of each you need to eat.

If you exercise regularly to gain muscle and/or lose fat, or if you simply want to lose weight, you need to increase your daily protein intake to 1.5 to 2 grams per kg of body weight. To do this, simply multiply your own body weight in kilograms by 2. This will give you a rough estimate of your protein requirements in grams. If you find yourself gaining weight, try lowering the multiplier. If you find that your strength and muscle gains are running out, or if you're very hungry, increase it a little.

A 70 kg person would therefore need to consume 2 x 70 = 140 grams of protein per day. That's 140 x 4 = 560 kcal, 4 being the caloric load of each gram of protein.

If we start from a base of 2000 kcal per day for the protein diet, we'll need to divide the remaining 1440 calories (2000 - 560 kcal) between carbohydrates, also 4 calories per gram, and fats, at 9 calories per gram. If you lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, you're better off taking fewer remaining calories from carbohydrates. If you're active, more carbohydrates may be more appropriate.

A typical starting ratio for a high-protein diet is 30% of calories from protein, 30% of calories from fat and 40% from carbohydrates. But a starting ratio is just that: a starting point. Many proponents of high-protein diets adjust their macronutrients themselves according to their needs and expenses, but always maintain a high-protein approach.

A good breakdown might therefore look something like this in our example: 200 g carbohydrates (800 calories - 40%), 71 g fat (640 calories - 32%) and 140 g (560 kcal - 28%) for protein.

Use an online calculator or app to do the calculations automatically.

The high-protein diet in practice

Following a high-protein diet generally requires :

- Include protein at every meal. To do this, plan your meals around a protein, such as lean beef, chicken, pork or fish, and fill the rest of the plate with vegetables. Including protein in your meals can help you feel fuller, which helps with portion control. Also, thanks to protein, you'll develop and maintain more muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest.

- Reduce carbohydrates and/or choose healthier sources. The first thing is to cut out processed carbohydrates, all sugary, fatty and salty industrial foods. Instead of eating refined grains like white rice, pasta and bread, consider protein-rich whole grains like quinoa, kidney beans and lentils. Base your diet on the GI (glycemic index) of foods and their carbohydrate content.


- Have a high-protein snack. Keep protein-rich snacks topped up with cottage cheese or skyr, and supplement with oilseeds like almonds or walnuts. Useful when hunger strikes between meals.

- Start your day with protein. Focus on protein-rich breakfast foods, such as eggs and protein powder smoothies like whey or plant proteins. Supplementation will play an important role - anyone following this type of diet will tell you how much they depend on protein shakes. But your regular meals will be just as important.

High-protein diet: what does science have to say ?

Protein is an essential nutrient for good health. It is responsible for several vital functions in the body, including hormones, enzymes, cell repair and maintenance.

If you think a high-protein diet is only useful for bodybuilders, it may be time to change: not only can high-protein diets build muscle and optimize body composition, they can also reduce hunger, improve satiety and promote weight loss.

Some studies have evaluated the long-term weight loss of people following a protein diet. What did they show?

In one study (1), it was found that those who regularly ate a high-protein diet lost more weight than those who ate a medium-protein diet. Protein levels were around 21% of calories, or just over 100 grams/day. After 6 months on the diet, the proportion of people who maintained significant weight loss (over 10 kilos) was higher in the high-protein group. And at 12 and 24 months, only those in the high-protein group had maintained weight loss or more. So keeping protein levels high is actually a big plus not only for the weight loss phase, but also for maintenance.

This is not an isolated finding. Another group increased protein and the results were even stronger (2).


On the food front, in one study (3), researchers gave a group of volunteers a breakfast of eggs, cereals or croissants, and all had the same calories. They then recorded how much these volunteers ate for lunch and dinner. The difference they found was staggering: Those who had eaten eggs were 300 to 400 calories less hungry later in the day! Basically, if you fuel your body the right way, you'll be far less likely to overeat later on.

In terms of body composition, in another study (4), researchers found that when excess calories consumed came from protein, they were used instead to build new muscle, whereas when they were fat, they were stored as fat. If you're going to store anything in your body, wouldn't you prefer it to be something other than fat ?

In short, studies on this diet show that it works: weight loss is rapid and significant.

Are there any risks in eating too much protein ?

There are risks in eating too much of any food group or food, and too much protein can increase the amount of work your kidneys have to do. For some vulnerable groups, such as the frail elderly, this can be harmful to health.

You should always consult a qualified and competent doctor before embarking on a new diet. Too much protein can be dangerous for people with chronic conditions such as kidney failure. If your doctor is concerned about your kidney health or any other digestive problems, there's a good chance he or she will advise against a high-protein diet. Heed his advice.

For healthy, active adults, however, no amount of protein should cause problems. However, there's a limit to how much protein is worth eating in a single sitting. Eating more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting is pointless. Your body will simply get rid of the excess as it will only take in what it needs. It has no muscle-building benefits.

Like most diets, there are potential drawbacks to following a high-protein diet. Nutrient deficiencies are possible. A high-protein diet often lacks dietary fiber, which can cause constipation and other health problems. It can also lead to bad breath. In this case, drink plenty of water. This will help eliminate toxins and limit bad breath. Some versions of high-protein diets also recommend the consumption of high-fat foods. These are not the best choices for a healthy, balanced diet, as they are often associated with heart disease and cancer.

Is the high-protein diet right for you ?

If you lead an active lifestyle and are looking to build muscle, a diet like this will be the only one to help you achieve your goals. Hypertrophy only occurs when your body has an excess of protein, and you need to constantly feed your muscles and muscle mass to keep it all going.

If you want to lose weight and cut calories, this type of diet will help you achieve your goals. The absence of that constant, high-carbohydrate energy intake will put you into a calorie deficit, while a high protein intake will result in satiety and help you maintain muscle mass. You're also likely to see a reduction in insulin spikes, as slower-digesting proteins replace simple carbohydrates: symptoms of pre-diabetes and obesity can be greatly alleviated by a protein-rich diet.

Study links :

1 -

2 -

3 -

4 -

AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers

Posted in: Sports nutrition