High Protein Low Fat Diet

Is a high protein low fat diet a good diet or not? Is it a healthy diet? Should you use it?

Well, it depends upon what the words 'low fat diet' and 'high protein diet' mean.

Since there is no standard terminology, in order to avoid unnecessary confusion it’s important to define how we are using them here.

As we use ‘diet’ on this website, a diet is simply the eating or nutritional plan you follow. In particular, it is not a short-term or temporary program. We do not recommend short-term eating programs because they don’t work well and can be dangerous.

So, let's find out more.


In order to make a point, let’s agree that an eating plan is “high protein” if it involves twice as many grams of protein daily as the bodyweight of the person involved.

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, a high protein diet for you would mean ingesting 400 or more grams of protein daily.

In order to make a point, let’s also agree than an eating plan is “low fat” if it involves one-tenth as many grams of fat daily as the bodyweight of the person involved. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, a low fat diet for you would mean ingesting 20 or fewer grams of fat daily.

Using the words as defined, we recommend against a high protein low fat diet.

We are, however, VERY MUCH IN FAVOR of a diet moderately high in proteins, high in fats, and low in carbohydrates, which is a very different diet. We say more about this diet further down the page.

It’s important to understand first, however, why we are against a high protein low fat diet.

The diet of your ancestors

The primary reason is that it is an unnatural way to eat. It can lead to health problems because it is not the diet for which Mother Nature designed our bodies. It is not the type of diet on which our ancestors thrived for hundreds of thousands of years.

If you were to try a high protein low fat diet while eating only complete, natural foods, it would be either extremely difficult or impossible.

That is a red flag that a high protein low fat diet should be avoided.

Except for about the last ten thousand years (which is not very long in terms of evolution), humans evolved as hunter-gatherers. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors of 20,000 or 50,000 years ago were healthier than we are! This was because they ate complete, natural foods and because they were more physically active than we are.

Evolution designed us to flourish eating complete, natural foods. Except for in season wild fruits and vegetables, the foods of our ancestors were primarily flesh foods that were high in natural fats and proteins.

When they weren’t, human health suffered.

For example, a diet consisting mostly of wild rabbit muscle meat is high in protein and low in fat, but it would make you ill (this sickness is called “rabbit fever”).

A healthy diet is one that has about one-third of its calories from natural sources of proteins. That percentage can go higher—above 40% or up to 50%. However, a high protein low fat diet involves a percentage higher than 50%, which is not healthy.

If you doubt that, try it for a while! Your body will tell you the same thing.

Game was the staple food of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They ate more of a carcass than just its muscles. In fact, the most prized portion of a carcass was often bone marrow, which is very high in fat. They also ate many of the internal organs, which are also high in fat.

So, their diet was, in general, plentiful in terms of natural sources of fats and proteins.

Though it’s possible for us to eat a high protein low fat diet, it is not a natural diet.

Remember that fats have about twice as many calories per gram as proteins.

So, especially in cold climates, the natural diet of our ancestors was:

  • moderately high in proteins, high in fats, but low in carbohydrates.

In general, that is the still the healthiest type of diet. It also happens to be best diet for fat loss.

In other words, for health or weight loss we should be eating a diet moderately high in proteins, high in good fats, but low in carbohydrates.

Get ready to be shocked

You may find this shocking, especially if you are fat phobic!

The truth is that eating fats won’t make you fat unless you also consume a lot of carbohydrates.

What we civilized humans have done to ourselves physically since the Agricultural Revolution of about ten thousand years ago is to switch our bodies from burning fats as the primary source of fuel to burning sugar.

When digested, all carbohydrates become sugar. So, think of eating carbohydrates as eating sugar and think of eating refined processed carbohydrates as eating concentrated sugar.

Grains and potatoes are high in carbohydrates, and the biggest sources of calories for humans today are, unfortunately, three grains (rice, corn, and wheat) and potatoes.

Since our ancestors almost never ate any of them, we are doing the nutritional opposite of what we should be doing if we want to be as healthy and trim as our hunter-gatherer ancestors!

Since it’s easier for the body to process sugar than fat, it prefers burning sugar to burning fat for fuel. (Similarly, it prefers burning fat than protein for fuel.) So, if you eat both fat and sugar, your body will burn the sugar and store the fat.

In our age of rampant refined/processed carbohydrate consumption, this is a large part of the explanation of why obesity is an epidemic.

When you start eliminating refined processed carbohydrates from your diet, you realize how ever-present they are.

Nonetheless, for health or weight loss you need to eliminate refined processed carbohydrates (apart from a weekly cheat day or meal). Get your carbohydrates most days from natural sources such as vegetables and fruits. For weight loss, make those low carbohydrate vegetables and fruits.

Refined processed carbohydrates are not natural foods. Moreover, they are a major cause of many diet related diseases. They can cause unwanted weight gain, insulin resistance, belly fat or fat accumulating around the abdomen, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, fluid retention, and type 2 diabetes.

If you are unsure what refined processed carbohydrates are, you can view a list on the following page of our website:

To the Refined Processed Carbohydrates list

(Then please return here to continue reading this page.)

We recommend against a high protein low fat diet

So, a high protein low fat diet is too high in protein and too low in fat.

Therefore, we recommend against a high protein low fat diet.

However, there are at least two occasions when you might want to ignore this recommendation.

First, if your physician puts you on a high protein low fat diet to ameliorate some physical anomaly, follow your physician’s advice.

Second, if you want a temporary boost for a few days to break a weight loss plateau, you are not going to undermine your health if you use a high protein low fat diet for a brief period of time.

Our bodies have bodyweight set points, and sometimes it can be useful to shock them briefly into breaking past such a set point.

(Even this second caveat, though, does not really go against our general recommendation against a high protein low fat diet. Remember that we do not use ‘diet’ to mean ‘temporary diet.’)

In general, we recommend sticking to natural foods. If you do that, you’ll be getting plenty of good fats and proteins, which is exactly where most of your calories should come from if you are serious about being as healthy as possible.

If you are burning fats rather than sugars, you are naturally going to become less fat. Our ancestors weren’t fat, and there’s no reason for us to be fat, either

If you eat much more like they did, you will not be using a high protein low fat diet. You’ll lose body fat naturally – and that’s the way to lasting weight loss.

Web pages related to what diets do work

Now that you understand why the combination of high protein and low fat is not a good idea, see the following pages of our website to learn about the dietary approaches that do work well for weight loss:

1. Low Carb Foods,

2. Fat Burning Foods,

3. The Paleo Diet,

4. List of Refined Processed Cabohydrates to avoid.

You will find the direct links to those pages on our site map/index. Meanwhile, directly below is the first of those links.

Low Carb Foods

Alternatively, use the link below to return to Low Carb Diet, which is the first page in the low carbohydrate section of our website.

Return from High Protein Low Fat Diet to Low Carb Diet

Power of protein, recommended books

If you'd like to learn more, here's some initial reading suggestion:

  • Eades & Eades The Protein Power Lifeplan
  • Cordain, The Paleo Diet
  • Eades & Eades, Protein Power
  • Kenton, The X Factor Diet

If you are looking for something more, you can search our website or the World Wide Web.


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