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 diseases.
Why the Popularity?
Many people 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.
These high-protein 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."
High-protein 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
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 imbalances.
"Nutrition and 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.
The diseases 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 diets.
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.
High protein 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.
The Nurse's 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 calcium balance.
(J Nutr 111:553, 1981; J Nutr 104:695, 1974; J Nutr
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:
Barry Sears 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 400 pounds.
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
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
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
The Heart Disease Zone
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).
More Zone Nonsense
Barry Sears 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
Fat Doesn't Cause Obesity:
Sears: Eating 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
Carbohydrates 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 lowering HDL-cholesterol.
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.
Rice Means 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.
Truth: Cardiovascular 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 much higher in fat and cholesterol than a few years back,
especially for those people in the cities (urban)
Fat Improves Athletic Performance
Sears: Athletes 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
Truth: Carbohydrate, 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.
Keeping Correct Insulin Levels
Sears: Reaching "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."
Truth: There 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).
Sears: Eicosanoids 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.
Truth: Sears 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 Newsletter).
What to Tell Your Friends
"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 THE CORNER?
Even though 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 examples.
Supporting the Good Guys
On February 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.
The Dietary 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
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.
Presently our 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."
Talking about 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."
(Anyone interested 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
or visit their website at
Going After 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.
Their popularity 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
These authors 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.
These authors 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."
Contrary to 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
So Why Buy Nonsense?
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?
Millions of 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.
However, there 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.
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