While fad diets come and go, one method that can certainly help any strong, fit woman lose weight is restricting carbohydrates and increasing protein, provided you maintain the appropriate calorie intake. You needn't cut your carbs to absolutely zero, or consume your body weight in protein each day, but basing your meals around low-carb, high-protein foods can help keep you feeling fuller and have a positive impact on your metabolism and weight loss.
General Guidelines and Considerations
Low carb and high protein aren't terms with strict guidelines -- what one woman might consider to be low carb could appear high to another. You can use the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate as a guide, though. This advocates splitting your plate into quarters and filling each with a protein source, a grain, a vegetable and a fruit. For a simple tweak to make this lower carb and higher protein, take out the quarter of grains and replace it with more veggies and either switch to low-carb fruits like berries, or add more protein in place of fruit. If you follow a vegetarian diet, don't worry, you can still go low-carb, high-protein. Rose Elliot of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition recommends switching meat and fish to soy, tempeh, seitan or even nuts and seeds.
Your morning meal can be a real conundrum. Cereals, bagels, toast and juice are so convenient, but they're a low-carber's worst nightmare. Nutritionist Kris Gunnar of Authority Nutrition recommends basing your breakfast around eggs, either accompanied by some lean grilled bacon, or cooked with vegetables in a little coconut oil. If that doesn't take your fancy, how about the meat and nuts breakfast, popularized by trainer Charles Poliquin? It is essentially exactly as the name implies -- a serving of any meat, plus a small handful of nuts, such as pistachios, almonds or walnuts. For a quick low-carb, high-protein morning fix, you can also reach for a protein shake. Just check the ingredients before you buy and look for one with few or no additives, advises Dr. Mike Roussell. Check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet, too.
Lunch is fairly straightforward -- fill a plastic container with salad and a protein source. Make it interesting though -- different leaves, your favorite veggies and salad items, plus a serving of protein, such as chicken or turkey, lean beef or pork or boiled eggs. Add some dressing, but make it a non-sugary one to cut the carbs. Olive oil-based dressings are ideal, or you could add a few olives or a handful of crushed nuts for extra flavor. If you'd rather have a sandwich-type lunch, consider replacing your bread with a lettuce or cabbage leaf. You'll still be able to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich, but the carb content is much lower. Alternatively, make double of your low-carb, high-protein dinner each evening and take it cold for lunch the next day.
Your evening meal should revolve around the same principles. Vary the types of food you eat to keep things interesting. If you have chicken one night, have salmon, tilapia, lean lamb steak or any other type of animal or plant-based protein on other nights. Do the same with veggies and, if possible, pick one or two new vegetables to try each week. The only vegetables to avoid, or at least limit are starchy ones such as potatoes, yams and parsnips. Keep your servings of grains to a minimum and fill up on extra veggies if you're hungry.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.