Protein diet: what it is, step by step and menu

Many people can suffer health consequences from being overweight. Losing weight is not necessarily easy, as eating habits are difficult to change. If you want to lose some of your weight and avoid the accordion effect, the protein diet can help you.


What is the protein diet?

Any diet that has 30 to 40% of its calories from protein can be considered a protein diet. It seeks to cut or drastically reduce the body’s consumption of carbohydrates , replacing it with fats and proteins. This increases metabolism and controls appetite. In addition, the diet is flexible and easy to adapt. There are vegetarian and vegan variations, as well as versions for people who are lactose intolerant.

There are several variations of the protein diet. Some examples are:

  • Dukan diet;
  • Dieta Atkins;
  • Cetogenic diet.

Index – in this article you will find the following information:

  1. What is the protein diet?
  2. What are proteins?
  3. Health
  4. How does it work?
  5. Common questions
  6. Benefits
  7. Disadvantages and contraindications
  8. Vegetarians and vegans
  9. High biological value protein diet
  10. Whey protein
  11. How-to: step by step and full menu
  12. Light and diet foods
  13. Exercises
  14. What to eat: foods within the diet
  15. Off-Diet Foods

What are proteins?

Proteins are macromolecules  made up of one or more chains of amino acids. Every living being has proteins and all cellular processes – cell respiration, metabolism, DNA replication – have their share.

Some types of protein are responsible for the structure and movement of muscles. The sequences of different amino acids are what differentiates one protein from another and its structure is essential for its functioning.

When exposed to excessive heat, proteins undergo denaturation, losing their structure and function. That is why fever , which heats the body, is so dangerous. The proteins in the human body are adapted to function well at 36.5º C, but a high fever can reach 41 and several of them denature for that reason.

The digestion of proteins in humans is made from the peptide enzyme, which breaks down proteins into amino acids, used by the body for the production of cells and for energy.

Animals, unlike plants, are not able to produce all the necessary amino acids, so it is necessary that they consume foods rich in protein. These necessary amino acids that the body does not naturally produce are called essential amino acids .

It is possible to find essential amino acids in different foods. Animal foods have more complete proteins of essential amino acids than plants.

It is not possible to find all the necessary amino acids in a single plant, but it is possible to eat more than one type of plant. Legumes, such as beans and lentils, are plants especially rich in protein.


First of all, a warning is worthwhile: making very sudden changes in your eating habits can be harmful to your health, and can cause metabolic and kidney problems. In addition, if you usually eat 3000 calories a day, suddenly reducing to 1000 a day will be exaggerated suffering, in addition to having a high potential for failure , since the body will start to enjoy everything it can and you can gain weight when the diet is over.

Before starting the protein diet, or any diet, we recommend that you look for a nutritionist or nutrologist, who are the ideal professionals to indicate diets and dietary changes, taking into account your particular needs.

It is also indicated that you find out if your BMI is within the healthy range. There is no need to go on a diet to lose weight if you have a BMI below 25.

Daily protein requirement

The ideal is to talk to the nutritionist, but for reference, there is a calculation to find out your daily protein requirement for this diet. You should multiply your weight in pounds by 1.2 to 1.6, depending on your daily workouts.

If you are a sedentary person, who does not exercise regularly, you should multiply by 1.2. If you do intense exercise, more than 4 times a week, you should multiply by 1.6. Choose an appropriate number between 1.2 and 1.6 based on your exercises. The result is the amount of grams of protein needed.

For example, someone with 70 kg who exercises twice a week can do the following account:

70 x 1,4 = 98

This person has a daily requirement of 98 grams of protein. For reference, 100 grams of egg (approximately two small eggs) have 13 grams of protein.

Your protein intake should be divided by the meals of the day, seeking this number, if possible.

How does it work?

The functioning of the human body is a complicated process, full of details. Weight gain and loss are not all that different. At first, it’s a simple account. The more calories you eat, the more weight you gain. The more calories you expend, the more weight you lose.

If your calorie expenditure is greater than their intake, the weight drops. If the expense is less than the intake, the weight goes up.

Where does the excess go?

So far, we had simple too many and too few accounts, but now it starts to complicate a little. Calories, our main fuel, tend to come from carbohydrates. They are a natural compound, present in sugar, wheat, fruits, and are the main (but not the only) fuel in the human body, which transforms them into glucose, which is then transformed into energy by the cells.

When we eat more carbohydrates than we spend, the body does not throw away all the leftovers. He keeps it.

Before we had shelves full of food and markets just around the corner, we could never be sure when we would have the next meal. It could be in five hours or in five days. The body, without this certainty, learned to take advantage of everything it could and it is still today.

When calories are left, the body keeps the rest in the form of fat. That is, fats are our reserve. If one day you are unable to find food, the amount of fat in your body can guarantee that you will survive longer. This is a problem to lose weight, because the reserve is only used if there is a need.


The body is able to transform fat into energy through a process called ketosis . The liver transforms fat molecules into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which are used in place of glucose. The problem is that it only turns fat into energy when it has no glucose. Fat is only spent when there is a lack of energy from the normal source: carbohydrates.

The protein diet seeks to take advantage of ketosis. It cuts carbohydrates, causing the body to start using fat to support itself. However, fat is not the ideal source of energy, but an emergency resource and the person feels hungry  when not eating carbohydrates, in addition to other negative effects such as discouragement, dizziness and even memory loss.

The body has a harder time digesting protein than carbohydrates and fat, and it needs to use more energy in this digestion, speeding up metabolism. At the same time that more calories are used for protein digestion, the body goes into ketosis and uses fat as an energy source.

The protein gives you a feeling of satiety for a longer time, which reduces the suffering of hunger and the temptation to eat more – which would add more calories to the body.

Common questions

Is the protein diet the same thing as low-carb?

Low-carb diets are diets low in carbohydrates and which replace them with proteins and, especially, healthy fats.

Many protein diets can fit into low-carb diets (this is the case with Atkins), but a low-carb diet is not necessarily a protein diet. To be, it is necessary that there is a consumption of 30 to 40% of protein, but many variations of low-carb do not reach this, having preference for healthy fats.

How long does the protein diet last?

Technically speaking, it doesn’t end, just like any diet. If, after reaching the desired weight, you start eating the same way you did when you gained weight, you will only be able to put on weight again. Maintaining weight is a matter of balance and dietary education.

What is the protein diet for?

The menu we provide here is specifically for weight loss, but the protein diet can also be used for weight maintenance.


The great advantage of the protein diet is that it is able to reduce the amount of calories ingested, causing ketosis, while giving a more lasting feeling of satiety. It is an extremely efficient process for weight loss.

Disadvantages and contraindications

There are some disadvantages and contraindications in the protein diet that must be taken into account before starting.

Lack of glucose

The protein diet, which in most versions cuts the carbohydrate completely, has the disadvantage of not adding glucose to the blood. Without glucose, the brain does not function properly. Dizziness, discouragement and memory loss accompany weight loss. In addition, glucose is our main source of energy and without it, we may feel weak.


Because of reduced fiber in the diet, constipation can be a problem.


This diet also has the problem of being heavy for the kidneys, especially in its first phase, since they are the ones that process the molecules that originate from the digestion of protein, so the diet is not recommended for people with kidney problems.


The protein diet is not recommended for people who have diabetes .


This diet increases the concentration of cholesterol in the body, so hypertensive people can have problems doing it and should avoid it.

Concertina effect

Another important part is that, without the assistance of a nutritionist, the diet does not usually help with dietary reeducation . There is no point in losing weight and then eating again as before, as this will only make the weight come back: the famous accordion effect .

Vegetarians and vegans

Protein diets often have meat and animal products on their menus, but it is possible to replace these components with other types of food.

Ovolactovegetarians can eat eggs, which are also rich in animal protein.

Vegans, who do not eat animal foods, can use plants such as beans and lentils. Cereals, such as wheat, are also sources of protein, but they have too many carbohydrates to be used in this diet.

High biological value protein diet

One of several variations of the diet is the high biological value protein diet . It uses easily digestible proteins and closes with dietary reeducation, trying to ensure that the weight will not only drop, it will also remain low.

This version is an adaptation made by homeopathic doctor Márcia Jablonka Kelman and nutritionist Letícia Okamoto, designed specifically for Brazilian women.

The diet, divided into three phases, begins by cutting the carbohydrate completely over the course of fourteen days. These initial two weeks decrease your weight by 5 to 9 kg.

After that time, in the second phase, the carbohydrate goes back to the list of allowed foods. It is indispensable and necessary for the body, but it should be eaten in moderation. This phase is important because it lasts five weeks, long enough to get the body used to the new eating routine. In the first of these weeks, the diet has 1100 calories, and at the end of the fifth it has 1500.

Finally, in the third phase, all foods return to the menu and it is enough that the person doing the diet has moderation, remembering to maintain a healthy eating routine, with 1500 calories, without committing exaggerations.

The weight must remain balanced and healthy, and thanks to the habit  created during the seven weeks of the diet, the accordion effect should not be a problem.

Whey protein

Meats are very welcome in the protein diet, but even they have fats that can be avoided. During the first and second phases, whey protein  will be very present. That’s because it has a high concentration of proteins, very few fats and helps with metabolism.

Whey protein is whey protein. During the manufacture of cheese from cow’s milk, a liquid full of proteins is produced. In the past, it was discarded, but today it is from it that whey protein is produced.

There are three different types of whey protein: concentrated, isolated and hydrolyzed.

The first goes through filtration processes that remove the liquid from the mixture (the whey is composed mostly of water and only 10% of its composition is protein). This type of whey has 30 to 89% protein, depending on the filtration process and the brand.

The isolated whey protein goes through the same filtration processes, but also through chemical reactions that remove the fats and carbohydrates that may be present. Thus, this type has more than 90% of proteins in its composition.

Finally, hydrolyzed whey protein is like the isolated one, but it also undergoes hydrolysis processes to break down proteins, facilitating digestion and absorption by the body.

For the protein diet, any of the three options is good. The first is cheaper, the third is more expensive. If you have a choice, avoiding concentrated whey protein is ideal, as it contains more fats.

Lactose intolerance

People with lactose intolerance may have intolerance to whey protein, especially the concentrate, since in it, lactose has not been removed. Symptoms of intolerance are less common in the other two types of whey.

How-to: step by step and full menu

This diet cuts calories and, with proteins, increases the feeling of satiety. Following it to the letter, it is possible to lose several pounds quickly.

The first two weeks are aimed at weight loss. In them, the caloric amount is low and it is possible to lose 5 to 9 kg, depending on your body’s metabolism. Remember to do light exercise during those days, but be careful not to overdo it. With reduced food, your body will have less energy.

Below, the menu gives several options for each meal of the day. At mealtime, you can choose one of the options. During the first two weeks you will follow the options to the letter. From the third week, or after reaching the weight you want, you can move on to the second phase, in which additions will be made in this same menu.

Phase 1: 2 weeks

Following this 1000 calorie menu, you should be able to reduce excess weight within 14 days.


  • Option 1:

Protein shake : 1 cup (200 mL) of skimmed milk and 2 tablespoons of whey protein in the flavor you prefer (use a mixer or blender to mix the product well) + 2 medium slices of minas frescal light cheese 0% fat + 2 slices of lean ham

  • Option 2:

1 jar (100 g) of low fat yogurt and 2 tablespoons of whey protein in the flavor you prefer + 1 light melted cheese + 4 slices of light turkey breast.

Morning snack

  • Option 1:

1 pot (100 g) of low-fat yogurt (optional sweetener).

  • Option 2:

2 medium slices of minas frescal light cheese 0% fat + 2 slices of turkey breast.

  • Option 3:

1 cup of tea and coffee with skimmed milk and sweetener.


  • Option 1:

1 fillet (120 g) of grilled chicken + mixed salad: watercress, lettuce, spinach, cucumber, radish, bean sprouts and alfalfa (at will).

  • Option 2:

1 fillet (120 g) of grilled mignon + green salad: lettuce, arugula and watercress (at will).

  • Option 3:

Complete salad : 4 tablespoons of tuna and green leaves of your choice, at will.

Afternoon snack

  • Option 1:

Protein shake : 1 cup (200 mL) of skimmed milk and 2 tablespoons (whey) in the flavor of your choice.

  • Option 2:

1 jar (100 g) of low-fat yogurt and 2 tablespoons of whey protein.


  • Option 1:

Omelet : 1 egg yolk and 2 egg whites with 2 cups of steamed broccoli tea.

  • Option 2:

1 fillet (200 g) of fish (hake, hake, whiting) or 1 breast (120 g) of grilled chicken + green leaf salad of your choice (at will).

  • Option 3:

1 fillet (120 g) of grilled chicken + 1 plate (bottom) of broccoli cream soup.

Phase 2: 5 weeks

Phew, the worst part is over. If you made it this far, you must have lost some weight in the past 14 days. The first phase is the most difficult, as it is there that the most drastic change in habits occurs. It is also where the greatest restrictions exist.

From here, the diet starts to get easier. At this stage, weight reduction is less, but it is also easier to follow the diet and there are fewer restrictions. Foods such as potatoes , fruits and breads can return to the menu. But make no mistake, there are still restrictions that will only be lifted in phase 3.

Without exaggeration, each week, the diet gains 100 calories. In the first week only 1100 calories will be consumed per day, but by the end of the five weeks you will be eating 1500 calories daily. It’s not much, but when you get to this point, everything should be easier since your body will be used to the caloric amount.

The menu for the first two weeks follows the same here, but after choosing the option for your meal, you can add one of these options. Each of the additions remains on the menu for the following week.

1st week


Add to your breakfast option:

A  portion of fruit. You can choose between:

  • 1 Apple;
  • 1 Banana-silver;
  • 1 Pear;
  • 1 Orange;
  • 1 Kiwi;
  • 5 strawberries;
  • 1/3 of a papaya;
  • 1 medium slice of melon.

Also add  1 slice of whole grain bread, whole French bread or  1 slice of small pita bread.

Lunch and dinner

Include, in your chosen option, greens and vegetables at will (chard, pumpkin , zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant , tomato, carrot).

2nd week

Morning and afternoon snacks

Add 1 serving of fruit to choose from.

3rd week


Add to the chosen option:

  • 1 serving of carbohydrates: 3 tablespoons of brown rice, 1 taster of brown noodles or 2 slices of brown bread;


  • 1 serving of grains: 3 tablespoons of lentils, peas, beans, white beans or chickpeas.

4th week


Add 1 serving of carbohydrates or starch to the chosen option. You can choose between:

  • 2 small potatoes, roasted or boiled;


  • Half cassava;


  • 1 piece of cassava;


  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin + 1 serving of fruit.

5th week


Add to the chosen option 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 teaspoon of margarine or light butter.

Phase 3

Many diets lead to an accordion effect, which is when the person loses weight and regains it later. This is not the fault of the diet.

Peso is a simple addition and subtraction account. If you eat more calories than you spend, you lose weight. If you eat less than you spend, you get fat. If the expenditure is equal to the consumption, the weight remains the same. Maintaining weight is a matter of balance of diet and exercise.

The third phase of the protein diet releases everything you want to eat. Sweets, snacks, fast food, bread, pasta, even soda if you want. However, all of this in moderation.

This phase has 1500 calorie meals and if you have followed the diet so far, your body must be used to this caloric amount. As long as you do not make eating everything a habit and keep your calorie intake similar to the expenditure, your weight will be maintained without rising.


  • Option 1:

1 jar (100 g) of light yogurt + 2 tablespoons of light granola + 1 slice of whole grain bread with 1 slice of turkey breast and 2 slices of white cheese.

  • Option 2:

1 cup of coffee with skimmed milk and sweetener + 1 french bread without crumbs with 1 tablespoon of cottage cheese + 1 fruit ( banana , red plum) + 1 glass (200 g) of light fruit juice + 1 french bread wholemeal with 1 slice of light mozzarella and 1 slice of turkey breast + 1 jar (100 g) of light yogurt.

  • Option 3:

1 glass (200 g) of light fruit juice + 1 whole French bread with 1 slice of light mozzarella and 1 slice of turkey breast + 1 pot (100 g) of light yogurt.

Morning snack

  • Option 1:

3 walnuts + 3 apricots + 1 light melted cheese.

  • Option 2:

1 fruit (apple, pear, kiwi ) + 1 jar (100 g) of light yogurt.

  • Option 3:

2 whole toast with 1 tablespoon of cottage cheese.


  • Option 1:

Mixed salad : 1 dish (dessert) of watercress, arugula, lettuce and tomato + 1 saute of sautéed broccoli + 4 spoons (soup) of brown rice + 3 spoons (soup) of beans + 1 fillet (120 g) of chicken breast grilled + 1 slice of pineapple.

  • Option 2:

Mixed salad : 1 plate (dessert) of tomato, american lettuce and red cabbage + 1 sautéed endive escarole + 3 tablespoons of mashed potato + 2 tablespoons of peas + 1 fillet (120 g) of lean meat (rump, duckling) grilled + 1 slice of mango .

  • Option 3:

Mixed salad : 1 plate (dessert) of grated carrots and beets, cucumber and curly lettuce + 1 sautéed zucchini sauté + 3 tablespoons of rice (preferably whole) + 3 tablespoons of chickpeas + 1 fillet (120 g) of grilled salmon + 1 fruit (1 slice of melon or pineapple).

Afternoon snack

  • Option 1:

6 almonds + 1 box (100 ml) of light soy juice.

  • Option 2:

1 light whole grain cereal bar + 1 jar (100 g) of light yogurt.

  • Option 3:

1 slice of whole grain bread with 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 slice of turkey breast.


  • Option 1:

1 deep dish of vegetable soup with meat or chicken (100 g) and wholemeal pasta +1 orange.

  • Option 2:

Omelet : 1 egg yolk, 2 egg whites, chopped tomato, onion, chives + 1 saucer of cooked vegetables (broccoli, chard, cauliflower and eggplant) + 1 pear.

  • Option 3:

1 dish (dessert) of green leaves, tomato, grated carrot, cucumber, fennel or 2 cups of cooked vegetables tea (broccoli, cauliflower, chard, zucchini) + 1 fillet (120 g) of chicken breast or roasted fish , cooked or grilled.

Supper (Optional)

  • Option 1:

2 slices of white cheese with 1 teaspoon of diet or sugar-free jam.

  • Option 2:

1 cup (skim) of skimmed milk with 1 spoon (dessert) of light chocolate drink.

  • Option 3:

1 jar (100 g) of light yogurt with 1 spoon (dessert) of oats.

Remember to drink at least 2 liters of water a day, always between meals.

Light and diet foods

Sold as the solution for overweight, light and diet foods can be great allies or enemies, depending on their use. Let’s first learn a little about what each one is.


Light foods are foods that have a reduction of at least 25% of some specific substance. The reduction is not necessarily caloric: it can be fat, sugar, sodium, cholesterol or the caloric amount.


When a food is diet, there is a complete absence of a component. As with light foods, this does not necessarily mean that the calorie content is lower.

A diet chocolate can be sugar-free, which is replaced by a sweetener. However, this substitution makes the texture of the food strange. To bring the texture of the diet product closer to the original, extra fat is added. Same caloric amount, but no sugar. An ideal chocolate for those who have diabetes, but not for those who want to lose weight.

It’s light / diet, all right

It is not because of having a light or diet food in hand that the person can overeat without fear of gaining weight. The caloric amount can be the same as that of the original product, so it is important to take care and watch the products well. Knowing which substance is reduced or removed from a light or diet food can make all the difference.

Nor is it because a product has fewer calories that you can eat it during the diet believing that the calorie reduction makes up for the extra. Eating more is always eating more.



Remember to exercise! This is the way to eliminate calories by expending your energy. Aerobic exercises are ideal for weight loss.


Walking is a light exercise that slims and ensures better health. Walking two and a half hours a week helps to reduce stress , body aches and circulation problems, and to control weight. It is a recommended exercise for any age and anyone. Try to walk after breakfast, when your body will have energy to spend and there will be no danger of fainting due to lack of it.


Running requires more effort than walking, but it burns more calories. It is important to have a proper running and breathing technique to avoid pain and injury. Inhale through your nose with each step and exhale through your mouth in the next step. You can work with two breaths followed by two breaths, maintaining a pleasant pace for your body.


Cycling uses calories, improves strength and balance, and does not cause so much impact on the joints, preventing injuries. Cycling is an excellent exercise to reduce and maintain weight, in addition to keeping your body healthy. You can use an exercise bike.

What to eat: foods within the diet

These foods can be consumed at any stage of the diet. The important thing is to keep the caloric intake consumed daily.

  • Whey protein (protein isolated from whey);
  • Eggs;
  • Milk;
  • Skimmed or light yogurt;
  • Minas frescal light cheese 0% fat;
  • Light ricotta;
  • Presunto light;
  • Light turkey breast;
  • White meats (chicken, rabbit);
  • Lean red meat (duckling, lizard, roast beef);
  • Condiments (vinegar, herbs, garlic, lemon and salt in a moderate dose);
  • Fish;
  • Vegetables and greens.

Off-Diet Foods

These foods  should not be consumed in the first phase of the diet. They have carbohydrates and sugars that will sabotage your initial weight loss, an important part of the process. Have strength, bear the temptation!

Some of them return to the menu in the second phase of the diet and all return in the third phase. So don’t worry, it’s not forever. Just hold on a little!

  • White and brown sugar;
  • Refined and wholemeal flour;
  • Pastas;
  • Candy;
  • Ice cream (not even fruit);
  • Bread (not even wholemeal);
  • Potato;
  • Cassava;
  • Mandioquinha;
  • Sweet potato;
  • Carrot;
  • Beetroot;
  • Pumpkin;
  • Tomato;
  • Olive;
  • Cornflakes;
  • Granola;
  • Oat;
  • Yellow cheese and sausages in general (salami, mortadella);
  • Soda (neither diet or light);
  • Sparkling water;
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, plums);
  • Oilseed (chestnut, walnut, almond).

The protein diet can help you lose excess weight fast, but it is up to you to strictly follow the steps taken. After going through the hardest part, you are free to eat what you want, as long as you keep it in moderation and remember to exercise to keep your weight under control. A little willpower can help you reach your ideal weight.

Remember to share this text so that everyone can control their weight if they wish!