In part 1 of this series, I analyzed low fat diets for arm toning. And today I will analyze high protein diets.
Why am I doing this? So that you can understand, through my lenses, how to critically look at fad diets. Just because fads come and go doesn’t mean your results should come and go—they should be permanent.
High Protein Diets
1. Ease of implementation. Eliminating carbohydrates is as simple as it gets. You can have bacon, butter and cheese galore as long as the carbs are out.
2. Lightening quick weight loss. Of all the diets out there, this one will produce the fastest weight loss—it can happen overnight. But make sure to read the fine print, most of the weight loss is water and glycogen (stored carbohydrate in muscle).
3. Automatic loss of appetite. Once you go into ketosis, your appetite will naturally go down. This allows you to eat less calories unconsciously. I can say from personal experience that it actually takes effort to eat a bare minimum of calories while in ketosis.
4. Rock bottom levels of insulin. Low levels of insulin are the holy grail of arm toning. Why? Because insulin controls how much arm fat you can burn. It’s the fat burning gatekeeper.
1. Very low energy levels. You will experience the following: mental fogginess and the need to sleep all the time. The severity of the energy drop will depend on how active you are. Why does this happen? Because your muscle can produce energy 3 times faster when burning carbohydrates and your brain prefers glucose (broken down carbohydrate) as its fuel source. While you can survive on fat and protein, your body does NOT like it and it will scream as loud as it can so that you get the message!
2. The exercise ability of a slug. Related to the previous point, exercise will become extremely painful (because of the acidosis from ketosis) and recovery will be zilch. Without carbohydrates, your body does not have the appropriate building blocks to recover.
3. An instant loss in definition. You can forget about arm toning here. Once you cut out carbs, all the water will come out of your arm muscles. This will produce a flat and deflated look. It’s like comparing a partially filled (and jiggly) water balloon to a fully filled air balloon. And you can do triceps exercises for women all day here, but it won’t make a difference.
4. Insulin resistance. Carbohydrates aren’t the only macronutrient that can cause insulin resistance. Excess protein can also do the trick ( to a lesser degree). What is insulin resistance? It’s a state in which your active tissues resist absorbing nutrients. And if your active tissues aren’t absorbing, then your inactive tissues (FAT) are. Not a good situation for fast arm toning.
5. The biggest weight gain rebound. As demonstrated by the Stanford A to Z weight loss study, high protein diets have the biggest weight gain rebound than ANY other fad diet. Why? Because all that water and glycogen you lost initially, comes right back once you start eating carbohydrates again. There is also some element of psychological (and physical) bingeing once you stop the diet since you’ve been deprived of carbohydrates for so long.
Bottom line: carbohydrate restriction is not sustainable. Going high protein is like driving a car with the parking brake on.
Now high protein diets ARE effective in a select few situations, but this is very rare. And the key is knowing how to “off ramp” from the diet instead of bingeing on all-out carb buffets once you stop. Having said that, the majority (99%) of women looking for arm toning should NOT follow a high protein diet.
Well, that’s it for today’s analysis. Don’t miss the next one!