What Is the Protein Power Diet?

Protein power diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Protein Power Diet?

As the name suggests, the Protein Power diet is a high-protein eating plan that is low-carb and includes healthy fats. It was developed by physicians Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades, who specialize in bariatric (weight-loss) medicine.

No foods are completely eliminated, with the exception of foods containing added sugar. But others, such as grains and legumes, are severely restricted. Followers of this diet will likely lose weight in the short term, but its restrictive nature could make it difficult to stick with.

What Experts Say

"The Protein Power diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate plan. While this diet may help you lose weight, experts warn that the carbohydrate limits can be quite restrictive to follow long-term."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

The 7-Day Diet Plan

The Eadeses have written several books that describe the diet and offer carb-counting resources, fitness recommendations, and compliant recipes. You'll find many ideas for meal plans in "The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook" and on the proteinpower.com blog.

The following 7-day meal plan offers additional suggestions for those following the diet. Note that this plan is not all-inclusive, and if you do choose to try this plan there may be other meals that are more suitable for your tastes, preferences, and budget.


What You Can Eat

The Protein Power diet emphasizes protein and low-glycemic fruits and vegetables and limits grains and legumes. The plan relies on knowing how many carbohydrates are in everything you eat.

Protein

Red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu, and low-fat cheeses are encouraged. Try to choose lean protein sources whenever possible.

Vegetables

Most vegetables are permitted on this plan. Note that some vegetables have more carbs than others and these count toward the daily allotment. For instance, spinach is unlimited, but green beans are limited to half a cup. Starchy vegetables like potatoes (a medium potato has about 37 grams of carbs) will exceed that carb count quickly. They are effectively off-limits, at least in the first phase of the diet.

Fruit

Fruit isn't completely banned on this diet, as it's a great source of fiber. But as with starchy vegetables, the carbs add up quickly with fruit, so you'll have to limit it. For instance, an apple has about 25 grams of carbs, and a banana has about the same. Melons and berries tend to be lower in carbs.

Grains and Legumes

You'll get more food on your plate with fewer carbs if you opt for whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. As with fruits, grains and legumes aren't entirely banned, but you'll need to sharply limit your intake or risk exceeding daily carb goals.

Artificial sweeteners, such as those in diet soda, are permitted, in moderation.

What You Cannot Eat

Most foods are allowed on the Protein Power diet, although many are restricted in quantity.

Added Sugar

You'll need to skip foods with added sugars.

  • Baked goods
  • Sauces
  • Ice cream

Unlike some other low-carb plans, the Protein Power diet doesn't restrict alcohol altogether. But if you drink it you'll still have to count the carbs, which means you'll have fewer available to eat.

How to Prepare the Protein Power Diet & Tips

The intervention phase, or the first phase of the diet, limits carbs to 20 to 40 grams per day, or 7 to 10 grams per meal. That's equivalent to two small servings per meal. Examples of a small serving include 2 cups raw broccoli, 1 cup cooked green beans, 1/2 cup raspberries, or 1 slice of low-carb bread.

In the transition phase (which doesn't happen until followers are close to their goal weight), up to 50 carbs, a day are allowed. The maintenance phase permits 70 to 130 carbs per day.

Because carb counting can be tedious, the Eadeses' 2010 book, "The 30 Day Low-Carb Diet Solution," relies on portion sizes instead of counting carbs. It categorizes servings of carb-containing food as "small," "medium," or "large" depending on the phase of the diet you are in.

Similarly, the book contains serving sizes for protein with pictures to illustrate the different amounts. While fats are not limited on this plan, the Eadeses warn that consuming a large number of calories (from any source) could make it difficult to lose weight.

Getting enough protein is fundamental to the diet's success. The Eadeses have come up with several ways to determine this. In "Protein Power," they use a formula based on lean body mass. Then they simplified the calculation by providing charts based on height and weight in a follow-up book, "Protein Power Lifeplan." These formulas provide about 100–120 grams of protein per day.

There is no specific eating schedule suggested on the plan, which means you can eat whatever meals and snacks you prefer as long as you stay within the allowed carb and protein serving sizes. The co-authors assert that consuming sufficient protein will help you feel full and avoid blood sugar crashes.

Since grains are limited, people who avoid gluten should be able to follow this diet. It can also be made vegetarian, although that would require eating a lot of tofu, eggs, and nuts for protein (since legumes are high in carbs). An important part of any low-carb diet is finding the right carb level for you. This is different for everyone, and too few carbs can negatively impact your health.

Sample Shopping List

The Protein Power diet emphasizes plenty of plant- and animal-based protein, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, and moderate fats. While carbohydrates are limited, you can still have the occasional serving of grains and legumes.

The following shopping list offers suggestions for getting started on the plan. Note that this is not a definitive shopping list and there may be other foods that you prefer.

  • Lean animal protein (chicken and turkey breast, sirloin steak, ground beef, pork tenderloin)
  • Fresh or frozen fish (halibut, cod, salmon, snapper, sea bass, shrimp)
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy)
  • Low-carb vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, beets, cucumbers)
  • Low-carb fruits (avocado, tomatoes, grapefruit, berries, apples, grapes)
  • Legumes (tofu, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa)
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • Oils (olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil)
  • Low-fat cheeses (cottage cheese, feta, Muenster)
  • Low-fat milk
  • Eggs

Pros of the Protein Power Diet

The high-protein approach found in the Protein Power Diet may be more appealing than some other weight loss programs.

  • Satisfies hunger: Protein, fat, and fiber are all filling. So eating a diet that emphasizes them should help followers feel full and satisfied (although carb cravings are still common).
  • Includes a maintenance phase: This is a three-phase plan with an intervention (active weight loss) phase, a transition phase, and a maintenance phase. The goal is for followers to learn how many carbs their body can tolerate without gaining weight, and then stick with that quota.
  • May be effective for weight loss: Because the eating plan monitors portion size and restricts carbohydrates, short-term weight loss is likely on the Protein Power diet. Though there is a maintenance phase, the diet may be difficult to adhere to for the long term, however.
  • High in fiber: Any diet that emphasizes nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables will naturally be high in fiber. The Protein Power diet advises getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day, which aligns with federal dietary recommendations. However, 25 grams is still considered the minimum. Adult women should try to get 25 to 28 grams of fiber per day and adult men should aim for 31 to 34 grams per day. Adults over 50 need slightly less.

Cons of the Protein Power Diet

As with all diets, this one also has its drawbacks.

  • Requires counting: To follow this diet properly, you'll need to know the carb and protein count of everything you're eating (or at least the serving size).
  • Too much protein for some: People with kidney disease should use extra caution because too much protein can place additional stress on the kidneys.
  • Not appropriate for some health conditions: If you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, it's very important to monitor your glucose carefully on any low-carb diet, including this one. Similarly, those with heart disease should be aware of their fat intake. People with these health conditions and others should always consult their physician before making any substantial changes to their diet.
  • May cause nutrient deficiencies: With fewer grains and fruits come fewer nutrients, like folate (especially important in pregnancy) and other vitamins and minerals. The Eadeses do suggest taking a multivitamin to fill in gaps. Studies have shown that low-carb diets, particularly those that restrict whole grains, are typically lacking in essential nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B7, chromium, and iodine. These deficiencies can increase a person's risk for developing certain chronic diseases.

Planning meals, cooking, and eating this way could take some getting used to. Some people might find it too difficult to eliminate or cut back on some of their favorite foods.

Is the Protein Power Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The Protein Power diet resembles other well-known low-carb eating plans, and like them, it deviates from federal recommendations for macronutrients. The USDA's MyPlate dietary guidelines suggest a balanced mix of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, with about five or six servings of grains a day. Protein Power's low-carb limit means consuming much fewer than that, about one serving a day depending on what it is and how many daily carbs are coming from fruits and vegetables.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 46 grams of protein per day for adult women and 56 for adult men, while the Protein Power diet suggests a range of 100 to 120 grams per day. The USDA also recommends that 45% to 65% of daily calories come from carbohydrates. You'll consume less than 20% of daily calories from carbs on the Protein Power diet.

While the Protein Power diet doesn't require counting calories, it does indicate that consuming too many calories will make the diet less effective. For a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss, nutrition experts recommend keeping track of your daily calorie intake.

The USDA suggests a reduction of 500 calories a day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. On a 2,000 calorie diet, that equates to roughly 1,500 calories a day—but this number can vary based on age, sex, weight, height, and level of physical activity. Use this calculator to determine your own personal daily calorie target for weight loss.

The Protein Power diet mostly aligns with USDA dietary guidelines in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption and healthy fats, but it drastically restricts carbohydrates.

A Word From Verywell

If you decide to try the Protein Power diet, it's likely going to be a big change from how you currently eat. But if followed correctly, the eating plan could promote weight loss, at least in the short term, especially when combined with regular exercise. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you might have and ask them whether this diet is safe and appropriate for you.

To help you stay motivated, you might ask a friend or family member to help hold you accountable. You might even talk to someone who wants to begin a weight loss journey of their own. It's helpful to develop a support network and connect with people who share similar goals.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Ninth Edition.

  2. Ko G-J, Rhee CM, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Joshi S. The effects of high-protein diets on kidney health and longevityJ Am Soc Nephrol. 2020;31(8):1667-1679. doi:10.1681/ASN.2020010028

  3. Bolla AM, Caretto A, Laurenzi A, Scavini M, Piemonti L. Low-carb and ketogenic diets in type 1 and type 2 diabetesNutrients. 2019;11(5). doi:10.3390/nu11050962

  4. Heileson JL. Dietary saturated fat and heart disease: a narrative reviewNutr Rev. 2020;78(6):474-485. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuz091

  5. Calton JB. Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plansJ Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010;7:24. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-24

Additional Reading
  • Eades MR, Eades MD. Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health–in Just Weeks!. Bantam Books.

  • Eades MR, Eades MD. The Low-Carb Diet Solution. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  • Eades MR, Eades MD. The Protein Power Lifeplan. Warner Books, Inc.