The Protein Power Diet
What You Can Eat on the Protein Power Diet continued...
The book's sample menus don't sound too temperate: Breakfast might be smoked salmon and a cream cheese omelet, one-half cup of fresh strawberries, a slice of light toast with butter, and coffee; for lunch, one-half avocado stuffed with chicken salad made with mayonnaise, served on a bed of fresh greens. Dinner might be a lean cut of meat, ten steamed asparagus spears, salad, one-half tomato, and a small glass of red wine if desired. Diet sodas and artificial sweeteners are permitted in moderation.
To round out nutritional needs, the authors recommend taking a high-quality vitamin-and-mineral supplement, along with at least 90 milligrams of potassium.
The book contains sample menus, more than 100 recipes, and suggestions on how to order in every kind of restaurant.
How Protein Power Works
Like the other low-carbohydrate diets, the Protein Power regimen is based on the idea that controlling the level of insulin, "the master hormone of human metabolism," helps regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fat storage. Researchers have long known that carbohydrates cause the body to produce insulin and that high levels of insulin inhibit the breakdown of fatty deposits in the body. In contrast, low intake of carbohydrates keeps insulin levels low, forcing the production of a counterbalancing hormone, glucagon, which seeks energy from the body's supply of stored fat. Therefore, one loses weight. Do this long enough and the fat seems to melt away, the authors claim, and they add that the usual "low-fat, high-carbohydrate approach won't do it; it has just the opposite effect."
If you are very overweight, the initial phase of the diet (when carbohydrates are severely restricted) will almost certainly put you in a state of ketosis, which happens when fat breaks down to the point where ketone bodies are produced and excreted in the urine. Ketones are incompletely burned fat, say the Eades, so that any ketones "you get rid of without actually using them for energy means you are ditching unwanted fat without having to actually burn it off."
Is ketosis dangerous, as some nutritional authorities would have you believe? Not at all, attest the authors. Ketones are the natural by-product of fat breakdown, normal and important sources of energy. To facilitate getting rid of these ketones, they urge you to increase your fluid intake by as much as 50%, to at least two quarts of water-based fluids a day.
As for exercise, the authors favor resistance-training, such as weight-lifting, because it stimulates the release of growth hormone more quickly than aerobic exercise. Why is this important? Because growth hormone shifts the metabolism to the preferential use of stored fat for energy.
What the Experts Say About the Protein Power Diet
Low-carbohydrate diets, which always mean high protein, usually draw a red flag from conventional nutritionists and medical experts. But since they do jump-start weight loss that you can see quickly, some say they have their place. "Fad diets are OK for a quick start," notes Bonnie Brehm, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Cincinnati's College of Allied Health Sciences in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Some people need to see that five-pound weight loss rather than just a single pound after a week of dieting." Brehm is conducting a study comparing a high protein diet with the low-fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association.