HIGH vs. LOW PROTEIN DIETS
by Dr. John McDougall
People all across
this country are asking, "Should I be on a high-protein or a low-protein
diet to lose weight?" Experts, many of them with credentials, will
encourage you in both directions. Right now the high-protein message
appears to be winning out among the masses. The best selling diet
books on the market--Enter the Zone by Barry Sears, Protein Power
by Michael and Mary Eades, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution by Robert
Atkins, and Healthy for Life by Richard and Rachael Heller--are
all high-protein, low-carbohydrate. At health shows I find these
authors swarmed by followers; even in the face of all the well-publicized
scientific evidence that says these diets provide only short-term
weight loss, and they are made up of foods known to cause serious
Why the Popularity?
are desperate to lose weight (and some to become healthier). Their
pleas for help have gone unanswered for one reason or another. Therefore,
any new chance for help is welcome, especially if it requires little
effort. The foods recommended in high-protein diets are the very
same rich foods we were all raised with and learned to love in America.
They are the juicy roasts, salty hams, braised lamb chops, lobsters
drawn in butter, pungent cheeses, salty fried eggs, and crispy bacon.
Foods most people still considered their birthright to enjoy--being
born into the wealthiest nation on earth. Tastes are hard to change.
Preach what people want to hear and you have an immediate following,
because naturally we all like to hear good news about our bad habits.
diets are often sold to the public with the claim that there is
something unique, even mystical, about the effects of protein on
the body that makes all well established dietary advise obsolete.
For example, the author of the Enter the Zone claims the problem
with our weight and health, specifically heart disease, is that
high carbohydrate diets promote excessive production of specific
hormones--insulin and "bad" eicosanoids. The secret to weight loss
and preventing heart disease is controlling hormones into a narrow
range referred to as "the Zone," by adding more protein to the diet
than is commonly consumed or recommended (30% vs 12%). People love
to hear there is a gimmick, like "entering the Zone," that will
somehow trick their body into losing extra fat without having to
give up the foods they love, or even worse, exercise. They're also
happy to hear it's not their fault they're fat, "It's my hormones
that are the real culprit, I don't have to feel guilty about being
a glutton and not exercising."
diet gurus are usually establishment bashers, they claim they have
the truth and all the other doctors, dietitians, and scientists
are wrong. People love to hear the experts are wrong again. Even
better, they like to believe there's a conspiracy by all these establishment
professionals to keep them fat and sick.
One of the most
important reasons for the popularity of high protein diets is they
work--people lose lots of weight fast--but it's mostly water. Stored
carbohydrate contains large amounts of water. Switching to a low-carbohydrate
diet results in the loss of these stores and the associated water,
with an impressive initial weight loss. In addition, if the diet
is low enough in carbohydrate, like the Atkins diet, then the body
goes into ketosis, causing suppression of the appetite, thereby
you eat and suffer less. I call these "the make yourself sick diets,"
because they simulate metabolic changes that take place during illness--ketosis
is a natural state that occurs when people are sick--a time when
they shouldn't be gathering and preparing food, but rather recuperating.
The foods recommended
for a high protein diet are mainly meat, egg, and dairy products,
which are high in cholesterol, fat, and animal protein; and deficient
in dietary fiber, carbohydrate; and are often highly contaminated
with chemicals and microbes; and have serious vitamin and mineral
Health in the United States," published under the direction of Surgeon
General C. Everett Koop MD in 1988 put to rest all controversy concerning
whether or not diet is fundamental in the cause, prevention, and
treatment of common diseases. "The Report's main conclusion is that
over consumption of certain dietary components is now a major concern
for Americans. While many foods are involved, chief among them is
the disproportionate consumption of foods high in fats, often at
the expense of foods high in complex carbohydrates and fiber that
may be more conducive to health." Similar recommendations to eat
fewer animal products and more plants foods have been made by every
other health organization, including the Senate Select Committee
on Nutrition, American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society,
The Diabetic Association, and the American Dietetic Association.
They all believe, to one degree or another, that the chronic illnesses
plaguing modern Western society are caused by an unhealthy diet
and lifestyle, and that improved health comes from eating fewer
animal products and a more plant food-based diet.
believed to be caused by meats, egg, and dairy products include
most cases of: obesity, heart diseases, adult diabetes, breast,
colon, and prostate cancer, gallbladder disease, osteoporosis, kidney
failure, kidney stones, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis,
constipation, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and hiatal hernia to
name a few well studied diseases. You don't have to be a trained
nutritionist to see the risk of becoming sick increases the more
of these unhealthy foods that are eaten--like with high-protein
Protein is metabolized
by the liver and excreted by the kidneys into the urine. A high
protein load causes damage to these organs. By the eighth decade
of life people in affluent societies commonly lose about 30 percent
of their kidney function (J Gerentol 31:155, 1976). This loss is
believed to be secondary to overwork of the kidneys caused by the
amount of protein typically consumed on the American diet, 12% to
15% protein (N Engl J Med 307:652, 1982). The Zone diet recommends
30% protein, and even more protein is found in other high-protein
diets. Low protein diets (4% to 8%) are used routinely to treat
patients with liver and kidney failure.
diets cause serious metabolic changes that lead to bone loss and
kidney stones. Red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, and eggs are
acidic in make up. Vegetable foods are alkaline by nature. The body
guards its acid-base balance (pH) carefully so that all of the pH-dependent
biochemical reactions take place normally. The dietary-derived acid
load from high-protein animal foods must be buffered. The primary
buffering system of the body is the bones which dissolve for that
purpose into phosphates and calcium. The alkaline phosphate then
buffers the animal-food derived acid. This is the first step in
bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. The second step leading to
osteoporosis consists of changes in kidney physiology caused by
the acid, the sulfa containing amino acids (plentiful in meat),
and the increased solute load, all resulting in a loss of large
amounts of bone material, including calcium, into the urine. The
presence of this bone material in the kidney system also lays the
foundation for calcium-based kidney stones.
Health Study recently found women who consumed 95 grams of protein
a day compared with those who consumed less than 68 grams a day
had a 22% greater risk of forearm fractures (Am J Epidemiol 143:472,
1996). Metabolic ward studies done on people have found a negative
calcium balance is created when 95 grams of protein are consumed
with 500 mg of calcium. The calcium intake must be raised up to
800 mg before calcium balance is achieved (the calcium entering
the body is the same as the amount leaving). People following the
Zone diet commonly consume 100 grams of protein and less than 800
mg of calcium. Athletes attempting to follow the Zone diet will
consume 140 grams or more of protein a day. Even with a very high
calcium intake of 1400 mg daily these people are still in negative
Nutr 111:553, 1981; J Nutr 104:695, 1974; J Nutr 102:1297, 1972;
J Nutr 100:1425, 1970; Trans NY Acad Sci 36:333, 1974)
On June 9, 1997,
I met Barry Sears, the author of the number one national best seller,
Entering the Zone, at Bally's in Las Vegas for the first of our
3 debates (see page 7 for more information). After telling a crowd
of nearly 4000 people the virtues of his diet for controlling insulin
and eicosanoid levels with resulting weight loss and improved health,
I proceeded to explain why his diet is merely a semi-starvation
diet and like all such diets it is impossible to follow for any
length of time. I used Barry Sears as an example:
weighs 210 pounds and is 6'5" according to information from his
book. His diet is based on 30% of the calories from protein, 30%
fat, and 40% carbohydrate. He says he eats 100 grams of protein
a day. He has been following his diet for 4-5 years. He says he
is still on his diet because he still needs to lose more weight.
If Barry Sears
eats 100 grams of protein that translates into 400 calories of protein
(1 gram of protein = 4 calories). Since the proportions of the diet
are 30/30/40, this means he also consumes 400 calories of fat, and
about 500 calories of carbohydrate. His total calorie intake is
therefore 1300 calories per day. A conservative estimate of his
actual needs would be over 2300 calories a day, with only sedentary
activity. This means every day he is 1000 calories short of his
needs. Every week he comes up 7000 calories short, which must be
made up from his fat stores. One pound of fat amounts to 3500 calories.
Therefore, Barry Sears must lose 2 pounds of fat a week on his diet.
Every year by calculation he loses 104 pounds. Since he says he
has been on his diet for 4 to 5 years this means he has lost over
At this point
in the debate I asked him, "Barry Sears: A) Did you start your diet
at over 600 pounds? B) Do you defy the laws of nature? or C) Is
it that you cannot and do not follow your own diet?"
Like all calorie
restricted diets, the Zone diet is next to impossible to follow
for very long because it hurts to be hungry. His program is also
impossible because the dietary rules are complicated and foods recommended
are unhealthy and unappealing. Coincidentally the June issue of
Prevention Magazine came to the same conclusions. They made up a
day in the Zone for their article. The meals consisted of 6 egg
whites, ½ cantaloupe, 1 kiwifruit, and 3 macadamia nuts for breakfast,
Lunch served 3 oz. of skinless white chicken, 1 cup each of steamed
asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and 1 tsp of olive oil. Dinner
was 3 oz. of turkey breast salad, 4 cups of spinach, 3 cups of cucumber
slices, 2 tomatoes, and 1 tsp. of olive oil. Afternoon snack was
¼ cup of low-fat cottage cheese, ½ medium pear, and 3 olives. Evening
snack was ¼ cup egg substitute (scrambled), 1 medium plum, ½ tsp.
natural peanut butter. This provided 1,209 calories, 110 grams of
protein (37%), and 646 mg of calcium. The authors of this article
asked "How long could you eat this way?"
During the next
round of the debate I pointed out that Barry Sears had not answered
my question. Therefore, I must assume he cannot and does not follow
his own diet. He admits to only 35 pounds of weight loss over the
past 4 years (less than 9 pounds a year), therefore he must be consuming
at least 2300 calories a day. This leaves two possibilities:
If he is following
his rule that to be in "the zone" you must adhere to proportions
of 30/30/40; then based on a 2300 calorie intake he must be eating
173 grams of protein and 77 grams of fat daily (1 gram of protein
= 4 calories and 1 gram of fat = 9 calories). Therefore he must
be in a high-protein, high-fat zone. However, he admits to eating
only 44 grams of fat a day, so the next possibility is more likely.
If he follows
his rule that he eats a specific amount of protein daily to be in
"the zone" and for him that's 100 grams of protein a day; then based
on 2300 calories of a day his diet would be 17% protein, 17% fat
and 66% carbohydrate, which would place him in a high-carbohydrate
My next question
to him was, "Barry...please tell us--are you on a high-protein (Atkins-Type)
diet or are you on a high-carbohydrate (McDougall-Type) diet?" He
still wouldn't answer. He finally said something about not being
interested in weight loss, but was really trying to protect himself
from heart disease, since he has a strong family history.
Seems kind of
strange to think of a diet centered around beef, pork, lamb, chicken,
eggs, bacon shrimp, lobster, and cheese preventing heart disease.
But, Sears reasons that too much insulin production by the body
is the primary culprit for causing heart disease, and the Zone diet
will control insulin and prevent heart disease. He feels so strongly
about this that he claims in his book that a very low-cholesterol,
low-fat diet will actually cause heart disease. After looking over
Dr. Dean Ornish's research he concludes, "My guess is that the people
who stay on his (Ornish's) program will ultimately have more heart
attacks, more strokes, and a higher cardiovascular death rate than
the dropouts." He bases this on the fact that "good" HDL-cholesterol
went down in Ornish's patients and triglycerides went up.
During the debate
I pointed out to him that Ornish had corrected him over a year ago,
by providing him the data showing his patients on a high-carbohydrate
diet had a 50% decrease in risk of cardiovascular deaths. Sears
admitted his error to Dr. Ornish and promised to make corrections
in his book, but has not.
On a healthy
low-fat, low-cholesterol diet "good" HDL-cholesterol goes down because
all fractions of cholesterol go down. Worldwide the lowest incidence
of heart disease is found where people eat the lowest cholesterol
diets and also have the lowest HDL-cholesterol levels (2:367, 1981).
Feeding cholesterol raises HDL-cholesterol (N Engl J med 325:1704,
1991). A long-term study of patients on a high-carbohydrate diet
showed less risk of death from heart disease compared to those on
the American diet (JAMA 173:884, 1960).
makes numerous statements in his books and at public appearances
that are incorrect, and I believe he is well aware of the inaccuracies,
but refuses to correct them. Much of this same misinformation is
used by promoters of other high-protein diets. Examples include:
fat doesn't make you fat. We are consuming less fat than 10 years
ago and getting fatter, therefore dietary fat cannot be the culprit.
Truth: We are
consuming the same amount (actually a little more) of fat now than
before. But, in addition, we are consuming over 250 more calories
of refined flours and sugars over the past 15 years. Because of
the added refined carbohydrates, the percent of fat in the diet
has gone down between 1980 and 1990 (men 38% to 34%, women 37% to
34%), but the actual amount (grams) of fat consumed has remained
the same (men 99.8 to 98.8, women 62.6 to 67.8), and the diet American
diet now has more calories (men 2,457 to 2,684, women 1,531 to 1,805).
The reason for the rise in obesity is no mystery--Americans eat
a high-calorie, high-fat diet.
Increase Heart Disease
Sears: A high-carbohydrate
diet for cardiovascular patients may be dangerous to their health.
Experiments show high carbohydrate diets increase the risk factors
for heart disease, by raising cholesterol and triglycerides, and
Truth: You can
design such experiments to show triglycerides go up by feeding refined
carbohydrates to subjects, and by overfeeding subjects (cholesterol
still goes down and I explained the effect on HDL-cholesterol above).
When subjects are allowed to eat only until they are full (not force-fed)
their cholesterol level falls, their triglyceride levels don't go
up significantly, and they lose weight (JAMA 274:1450, 1995). A
study of 1250 of my patients shows triglyceride levels decrease
an average of 10 mg/dl, and people who start with levels over 600
mg/dl have a 311 mg/dl reduction in 11 days. Therefore, eating as
much as you want (but not more than you want) of a healthy low-fat,
no-cholesterol diet lowers three important risk factors for heart
disease--cholesterol, triglycerides and body weight.
More Heart Disease
Sears: The Chinese
are an example of how people on a high carbohydrate diet (rice)
are as likely to have heart disease as Americans. Using the American
Heart Association data, he points out, Urban Chinese have almost
as much cardiovascular disease as in the US.
disease is not the same as heart disease. In China, half of this
cardiovascular disease is represented by strokes (from old age and
high-salt diets), less than one-third is due to heart attacks (ischemic
heart disease). In the US nearly two-thirds of the cardiovascular
disease is due to heart attacks (and one-sixth is due to strokes).
Besides, the 1993 figures he uses reflects the modern Chinese diet,
which is much higher in fat and cholesterol than a few years back,
especially for those people in the cities (urban)
perform better on a high-fat diet. A high carbohydrate diet is overrated
for elite athletes. A high-carbohydrate diet actually limits the
performance of highly trained endurance athletes.
not fat, is the primary fuel for exercise at or above 70% of aerobic
capacity, the intensity at which most people train and compete.
Fat only becomes available for fuel after 20 minutes of exercise;
therefore most people never exercise enough to lose body fat. Almost
every study of trained athletes shows carbohydrate fed before and
during the event improves an athlete's performance. Carbohydrate
fed after the event replenishes the athlete's glycogen stores for
the next race.
"the Zone" requires precise control of the protein-to-carbohydrate
ratio. Protein counteracts the carbohydrates you eat to keep insulin
levels in balance. High levels of insulin generated by too much
carbohydrate drive you out of "the Zone."
is no evidence that eating equal amounts of protein and carbohydrate
at every meal, as Sears suggests, lowers insulin. According to Dr.
Gerald Raven from Stanford University. "Protein--when eaten alone--increases
insulin secretion. I see no reason in the world why it would be
any different if protein were eaten with carbohydrate" (Nutrition
Action Newsletter Jul/Aug 1996). A study from the Lancet found beef
fed with glucose raised insulin levels twice as high as glucose
alone and four-times as high as beef alone. The authors concluded,
"Ingestion of glucose plus protein is followed by a very large increment
in plasma-insulin, of such a magnitude as to suggest synergism between
glucose with aminoacid (protein) with respect to insulin release."
(Lancet 2:454, 1966). The diet fed these subjects met the zone specifications
of 30/30/40 for ideal an protein-to-carbohydrate ratio: 27% protein
/ 30% fat / 43% carbohydrate. A study of adult-type diabetics, people
with insulin resistance, and normal people found 3-weeks of a high-carbohydrate,
low-fat diet and exercise lowered insulin levels significantly (Am
J Cardiol 69:440, 1992).
are the Key
are the body's super-hormones. Virtually every disease state--whether
it be heart disease, cancer, obesity or autoimmune diseases, like
arthritis and multiple sclerosis--can be viewed as an imbalance
of eicosanoids. To keep the eicosanoids in a healthy balance you
need to eat three grams of protein for every four grams of carbohydrate.
bases his whole diet theory on these hormones, yet he has never
measured the eicosanoid levels in people--so he really doesn't know
the response to his diet. Gerald Raven of Stanford says, "I find
it hard to swallow that anyone could really believe eicosanoids
are the key to all health and disease" (Tufts U Diet & Nutrition
Newsletter, May 1996). William Evans, PhD, director of the Noll
Physiological Research Center at Penn State University says, "There
aren't any studies that I'm familiar with that suggest they're dangerous
in any way. Anyone who tries to sell diet as the key to stemming
'bad' eicosanoids is capitalizing on an unfounded idea" (same Tufts
What to Tell
"You can burn
more fat watching TV than by exercising" and "...many people following
high-carbohydrate diets might just as well be eating candy bars"
are some of the ridiculous statements found in Sears' book and people
still want to believe him; therefore, it seems like an impossible
task to try to help those friends and family members who are attracted
by "high-protein diet preachers."
Try to get them
see the big picture. If carbohydrates were bad for people then the
Japanese living in Japan on a rice-based diet would be fat and sickly.
When they moved to the US and switched to a lower-carbohydrate,
higher-fat and -protein diet they would become thinner and healthier.
The truth is the Japanese are among the slimmest, most energetic,
longest lived, healthiest people on earth. Furthermore, they take
on common American diseases when they change to the American diet.
If high-protein diets, which means meat, egg, and dairy products,
were so good for us then people who subsist on these foods (most
Americans) would be the thin and healthy, and vegetarians would
be fat and sick. In general, the opposite is the case.
Along this same
line of thinking, ask your friends to closely observe the personal
appearance of these experts making all these dietary recommendations.
You will be struck by how fat and sickly most of them look. From
where I stand, I must conclude that they do eat high-protein foods
and lots of them.
In the long
run these controversial diets are extremely important (even though
some people get hurt along the way). The worst thing that can happen
to the truth is for people to show no interest. This high-protein
craze has made the country's top doctors, dietitians, nutritionists,
sports experts, and other scientists closely examine the scientific
research on nutrition and health. Almost every article on the subject
these days brings up the damaging effects of protein on bone health
leading to osteoporosis. Before this controversy all they would
talk about is the need for calcium. The harm from eating refined
foods, and sugars in all forms of the very popular nonfat cookies
and cakes is now being emphasized. Soon the pendulum will swing
back to a high carbohydrate, vegetarian diet and hopefully more
people will make this their lifestyle as the truth becomes more
widespread. (Read the preface of the McDougall Plan to see the historical
scope of this debate)
You can obtain
a 1-hour audio tape copy of this debate by sending $10 to McDougall/Sears
Debate, PO Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. (P & H included in cost).
HAVE WE TURNED
you have felt and looked better than all those "doubting Thomas's"
surrounding you, your faith may have been shaken lately by the popularity
of high protein diets, like the Zone, Protein Power, and the Atkins'
diet. This may have caused some of you or your friends and family
to have had doubts about the high-carbohydrate, plant-based diet
that I have encouraged you to follow over the past 22 years. Don't
lose faith yet. Respected health organizations are now coming out
of the closet and telling us the truth about the right diet, and
are taking a solid stand against the dangerous low-carbohydrate,
high-protein plans. Allow me to share with you two very important
the Good Guys
23, 1999 a coalition of more than 20 groups, including the American
Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, The Produce for
Better Health Foundation (PBH), the American Institute for Cancer
Research, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the American Diabetes
Association and the American Association of Retired Persons urged
the government to make fruits and vegetables the center of the American
diet. This message was primarily directed to the members of the
Dietary Guidelines Committee, who are making up the nutritional
guidelines to be revised for the year 2000.
Guidelines Committee includes officials from the US Department of
Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and top
nutritionists from various universities. The Dietary Guidelines
for Americans establishes the science-based guidance on what Americans
should eat to stay healthy. They also provide the framework for
all federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the National
School Lunch Program, and nutrition education programs, including
the Food Guide Pyramid.
The groups say
there is strong evidence that if people eat more fruits and vegetables,
lives and a considerable amount of health care dollars will be saved.
According to this group, five of the top ten causes of death in
the United States are diet related -- heart disease, cancer, strokes,
diabetes, and other forms of atherosclerosis, and diet plays a preventive
role in birth defects, cataract formation, hypertension, asthma,
diverticulosis, obesity, and diabetes.
food guidelines are represented by the "Food Pyramid," which makes
fruits and vegetables the base of the diet, followed by meats and
dairy products and toped with concentrated fats and sweets. Federal
nutrition policy recommends five to nine servings of fruits and
vegetables daily. "But simply including them is not good enough,"
said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president of the Produce for
Better Health Foundation (An organization that represents the interests
of the fruit and vegetable industries). "We are all urging the federal
government to emphasize fruits and vegetables, in addition to other
plant-based foods, not as just a part of a balanced American diet,
but as the core of it."
Americans, she says, "Dinnertime is vegetable time; over 75% of
all vegetables they eat are consumed at this time. But, even though
dinner time is the most popular time for eating fruits and vegetables,
only 28% of the foods they eat at dinner are fruits, vegetable or
100% juices. The average American's annual fruit and vegetable deficit
is serious," Pivonka said. "Most of us have an annual fruit and
vegetable deficit ranging from 219 to 1,629 servings - that's per
person. It really adds up."
T. Colin Campbell,
Ph.D., of Cornell University speaking for the American Institute
for Cancer Research cautioned against substituting supplements for
fruits and vegetables. "The whole is greater than the sum of its
parts," Campbell explained about fruits and vegetables. "Unlike
supplements, fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients
which cannot be extracted."
in receiving a complimentary copy of the Produce for Better Health
Foundation's publication can contact Rita McIntosh, manager of communications,
at the Foundation at 302-235-ADAY (2329); ext. 29, fax to 302-235-5555,
or e-mail to email@example.com or visit their website at http://www.5aday.com
the Bad Guys
The most popular
diet plans today are high in protein and low in carbohydrate. High
protein diets are not new. One of the most popular over the past
3 decades has been the Atkins' diet plan, which focuses on meat,
poultry, fish, and cheese, and severely restricts carbohydrates.
Such restriction results in ketosis and as a result these diets
are referred to as "ketogenic diets." The weight loss is immediate,
but not long term, and they produce unhealthy, and ultimately dangerous
side effects (increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney
stones, and cancer).
The 1990s version
of the high protein diet is carbohydrate-reduced, resulting in a
calorie distribution of 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, and 30% protein.
This kind of program was pioneered by Barry Sears PhD author of
"Enter the Zone." By limiting the amount of protein a person eats,
and sticking to the 40/30/30 ratio, food intake is restricted to
1200 to 1700 calories per day. Weight loss is accomplished by semistarvation.
Again, there are shot term (constipation and the pain of hunger)
and long term unhealthy side effects. Other best-selling books like
"Protein Power" by Michael Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD, and
"Heathy for Life" by Richard Heller PhD and and Rachael Heller PhD
have capitalized on restricting carbohydrates in order to sell to
the desperate, always-dieting, public.
has finally caused a long over due backlash from the scientific
community. The American College of Sports Medicine, The American
Dietetic Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and the Cooper
Institute for Aerobic Research have made their concerns known in
a recently published brochure titled "Questioning 40/30/30."
recommending more protein claim a diet based on the 40/30/30 ratio
burns calories more efficiently, resulting in achieving and maintaining
a healthy weight. However, according to the experts, "Following
the plans recommended in the popular high-protein diet books will
result in weight loss only because they provide so few calories.
Experts stress that the plans are too low in calories to provide
the energy needed by most athletes or active people... An educated
examination shows the premises of this diet to be misguided and
the diet plan inadequate in some major nutrients, particularly carbohydrates."
There is an
awful lot of nonsense and incorrect information given by the authors
of 40/30/30 diet books. "For example, Sears claims that the 40/30/30
regimen is responsible for turning around the performance of the
Stanford University women's swim team following years of losses
to the University of Texas. But he fails to note that before Stanford's
winning streak, the Texas coach and several athletes of national
caliber transferred to Stanford. According to the team's physician,
a former All-American swimmer at Stanford, 'I am unaware of any
evidence to support a correlation between those who follow the 40/30/30
diet and the athletes' performance.' While he feels that no one
at Stanford has been harmed by the diet, the physician emphasized
that 'since athletic success is multifactorial, any attempt to give
credit for Stanford's athletic success to a diet is insulting to
the coaches and athletes whose talent, incredible dedication and
hard work are the primary factors for their success.' Furthermore,
he says 'the Stanford athletes have now educated themselves about
the value of a well-balanced diet.'" Other claims are so ridiculous,
such as "you can burn more fat watching TV than by exercising,"
or "eating carbohydrates could be dangerous to your health" that
even the casual observer should not be fooled.
recommending more protein claim fat is the primary source of energy
for muscles. However, the experts say, "Fat can be a source of energy,
particularly at rest or low levels of activity. During intense physical
activity, carbohydrates stored as glycogen in muscles are the primary
sources of energy. More important, carbohydrates are essential for
glycogen recovery following activity to ensure continued optimal
performance. The 40/30/30 ratio does not provide enough carbohydrates
in the long term to enable competitive athletes to reach peak performance.
Eating more fat does not help you burn fat better. But excess calories
from fat can easily make you fatter."
their claims, these diets are high in protein which causes excessive
work on the kidney and liver, and leads to osteoporosis and kidney
stones. The experts say, "The amount of protein recommended by 40/30/30
diets is high compared with scientifically based research on protein
needs. For example, a 150-pound athlete who eats 3000 calories per
day would get about 3 grams of protein per kilogram body weight,
based on a 30% protein diet -- double the recommended intake for
active people. A higher-protein diet could be harmful for people
with renal disease or other conditions requiring a special diet."
For a copy of
the brochure you can write The American Society of Sports Medicine
at P.O. Box 1440, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1440 Street Address: 401
W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202-3233 or call Phone: (317)
637-9200, Fax: (317) 634-7817. Their web site is http://www.acsm.org
So Why Buy
You don't have
to be a nutritionist or doctor to figure out the truth. Look around
the world. If carbohydrates were bad for people, then the Japanese
living in Japan on a rice-based diet would be fat and sickly. When
they move to the US and switch to a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat
and -protein diet they would become thinner and healthier. Is that
what you see? To design a diet that will keep you healthy, young-looking,
and trim all you have to do is look around the world and observe
what thin, healthy people eat. Keep this example in mind and you'll
never be fooled. So why are so many people fooled that these books
are national best-sellers?
people are desperate to lose weight (and some to become healthier).
One of the most important reasons for the popularity of high protein
diets is they work, temporarily -- people lose lots of weight fast
-- but it's mostly water. Stored carbohydrate contains large amounts
of water. Switching to a low-carbohydrate diet results in the loss
of these stores and the associated water, with an impressive initial
weight loss. In addition, if the diet is low enough in carbohydrate,
like the Atkins diet, then the body goes into ketosis, causing suppression
of the appetite, thereby you eat and suffer less -- and lose weight.
But there is a limited time you can stay in ketosis because of its
unpleasant side effects. The foods recommended-- steaks, lobsters,
fishes, pheasants, eggs, and cheeses -- are the ones most of us
were raised to enjoy. Preach what people want to hear and you have
an immediate following, because naturally we all like to hear good
news about our bad habits.
is only one way to fully satisfy your appetite with delicious foods,
and stay trim and healthy for a life time -- that's a starch based
diet with fruits and vegetables and a bit of exercise. You may have
to learn to like both, but once you do you will wonder why you waited
so long to take better care of yourself.
or Fiction: "High protein diets are great for losing weight"
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