Are High Protein Diets Really Designed For Women

If you have more than a passing interest in weight loss, you're likely to have considered - or tried - a high protein diet. Although high protein diets have been around since the Atkins Diet in the 1970s, they've come back into vogue since Kate Middleton (now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) was said to have lost weight on the Dukan diet. For the fitness-minded among you, you're probably also familiar with the Paleo Diet, which tends to go hand in hand with CrossFit training. Finally, Tim Ferris started a new movement with his 'Slow Carb Diet'.

The close cousin of high protein diets is the 'sugar is evil' movement. The argument is that sugar is the cause of the huge rise in obesity, and the low-fat diets of yesteryear had it all wrong.

I'm not entering into the protein/sugar debate here, apart from to say that you can lose weight on a high protein diet, and reducing the sugar in your diet is beneficial for just about everybody. BUT you can also lose weight on any diet that has an iota of commonsense behind it, and the 'sugar is bad' message has been bombarding us since we were all kids, so this is hardly a revelation.

The real problem here is that the 'high protein and sugar is evil' movement is getting so much airplay nowadays that it's difficult not to get swept up by it. It's hard not to feel guilty that you have yet to kick your sugar habit, or admit you'd really like a sandwich for lunch rather than another chicken salad.

Actually, the real, real problem about all of these high protein diets - Atkins, Dukan, Paleo and the Slow Carb Diet - is that they were all developed by men. Before you think I'm completely sexist I do think it matters, and here's three reasons why.

1. Men tend to be overweight due to a general lack of awareness and information about nutrition and healthy eating, whereas emotional eating tends to play a bigger role in women's weight problems.

2. Men tend to be better at deciding to diet and then just following the rules, especially when they're allowed a 'cheat' day (which most of these diets include). Women, on the other hand, tend to be more influenced by hormone fluctuations and their emotional attachment to food.

3. Men tend to think a diet that allows them to eat big quantities of red meat and lots of eggs is a dream come true. Conversely, women are more likely to feel deprived when all they want is chocolate but they have to eat a medium rare sirloin instead. And, when deprivation beckons, it doesn't take long before a diet is ditched completely.

The final straw, of course, is that us girls tend to chastise ourselves and believe we're a total failure when we can't stick to a diet, leading to a spiral towards low self-esteem, an escape to emotional eating, and so the cycle continues.

Admittedly, no diet really takes into account the emotional aspect of eating which is extraordinarily ironic because once you understand your Inner BMI (beliefs mindset imprint) about food and your weight, everything else takes care of itself. However, I do think a high protein diet is particularly harsh for women compared to men, and from my own experience I know that men tend to be able to stick to this diet for far longer than women.

So, if you're thinking about embarking on one of the diets I've mentioned, please remember that you're human (not just a machine that needs food), your emotions are real (not to be stuffed down and ignored), cravings are often a sign to look deeper and weight control is a lifestyle, not a life sentence.