What is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet?


Quick Answer

According to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet provides 30 percent of its calories from protein and 4 percent from carbohydrates. Not all high-protein diets are low in carbohydrates. The same study also assessed a high-protein, moderate-carbohydrate diet that provided 35 percent of its calories from carbohydrates.

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Full Answer

Not all low-carbohydrate diets are high in protein, either. The Nutrition Science Initiative is studying a low-carbohydrate diet that provides 5 percent of calories from carbohydrates and 15 percent of calories from protein.

For comparison, the average American diet has approximately 50 percent of calories provided by carbohydrates, around 33 percent from fat and approximately 15 percent from protein, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The McKinley Health Center explains that there are three nutrients needed in large amounts in the diet: fat, protein and carbohydrates. These are called macronutrients. Macronutrients are the only components of the diet that provide calories. A diet can be described in terms of the percentage of calories provided by each of the macronutrients. Both carbohydrates and proteins yield four calories per gram, and fat yields nine calories per gram. The McKinley Health Center notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 45 to 65 percent of calorie intake ought to come from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein and 20 to 35 percent from fat.

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