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Moderate-protein diet may beat high-carb diet March 18, 2009

Filed under: nutrition — Chris Biles @ 11:59 am
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By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People lose weight when they cut calories, but a diet with some extra protein may be especially effective at trimming body fat and improving blood fats, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that over one year, a moderate-protein diet was better than a standard high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet at helping overweight adults shed body fat. What’s more, it had greater benefits when it came to boosting “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering triglycerides, a type of blood fat that contributes to clogged arteries.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Nutrition, suggest that trading in some carbs for protein may do dieters good.

For the study, 130 overweight adults were randomly assigned to one of two calorie-restricted diets: the commonly recommended higher-carb diet, with about 15 percent of calories coming from protein, 55 percent from carbohydrates and 30 percent from fats; or a moderate-protein diet where 30 percent of calories came from protein — including lean meat, low-fat dairy and nuts — while 40 percent came from carbs, and 30 percent from fats.

All participants were given menu plans and attended weekly meetings with a dietitian to help them stick with their new lifestyle.

After one year, the average weight losswas similar in the two groups — 23 pounds with the moderate-protein diet, versus roughly 19 pounds with the high-carb diet.

However, the moderate-protein former group lost more fat mass, and had greater improvements in both HDL and triglyceride levels.

The extra protein at each meal helps dieters preserve “metabolically active” muscle mass, explained lead researcher Dr. Donald K. Layman, of the University of Illinois in Urbana. At the same time, he told Reuters Health, the diet’s lower carbohydrate content means lower levels of the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

So the diet encourages the body to shed more stored fat, according to Layman.

The greater improvement in triglycerides, he said, is largely the result of cutting carbs, which can raise triglyceride levels.

A problem with any diet is that people have to do it right to be successful. In this study, dieters in both groups got a lot of help, with planned menus and weekly educational sessions. Whether people would fare as well on their own is unclear.

“One of the problems with moderate protein diets is that people bring old diet concepts to their approach,” Layman said.

For example, he said, the concept of eating “lots of small meals” throughout the day works when the diet is high-carb, low-fat because people are hungry more often — but it’s a bad idea with a moderate-protein diet.

“The important change is three consistent meals with balance of protein and carbohydrates at each meal,” Layman advised.

“A higher protein diet is not more protein at dinner, but balanced protein at breakfast and lunch.”

SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition, March 2009.

Did you catch that? The difference in the two groups (moderate protein vs. high carb) as far as weight loss was only 4 pounds in the one year study. BUT the moderate protein group lost more more fat mass AND had improved good cholesterol as well as triglycerides. The researchers are attributing most of the benefit to decreasing overall levels of insulin. It’s a good start. Now go eat some beef!


Nutrition Class January 31, 2009

Filed under: nutrition — Chris Biles @ 8:58 pm
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I’d like to thank everyone who has been attending our current four-week nutrition class at BFC. We’ve covered a lotof stuff so far in the first 3 weeks. I thought it would be a good idea to recap some of the main points for you guys and anyone else checking this blog out. Here we go:

The “battle of the bulge” AKA the obesity epidemic in the US is a battle that we’re handily losing. The number of adults considered obese has more than doubled in the last 30 years. The problem with this is that we’re seeing diseases like diabetes and heart problems that typically have shown up later in life are affecting younger and younger generations. Definitely not a good trend.

So if we’re all trying to eat less fat and less calories overall, then why are we still gaining weight?

Maybe some of our formed beliefs and opinions about food and weight loss are incorrect. What? Nooo! We know what’s best to lose weight, right?
Fat makes you fat.
Soy is a health food.
Cholesterol cause heart problems.
Low calorie/ no calorie foods blast fat right off.
The experts are telling us this and we can believe what they say, right? Umm, they haven’t been wrong before, have they?

Maybe the so-called experts have missed the boat on this one. Maybe we need to radically change our eating habits in order to radically change our waistlines and our health. Here’s the first step:


Carbs range from simple to complex but ultimately your body breaks all carbohydrates down to glucose. It uses glucose as a cheap and easy energy source. The cells (mainly muscle and liver cells) transform glucose into a bigger molecule called glycogen that serves as an energy reserve when the body needs more glucose. Muscle glycogen is used by the muscle cells but liver glycogen can be used by other organs. So far so good.

The problem comes in when we have chronically elevated insulin levels due to excess carbohydrate intake. Insulin is a storage hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to allow cells of the body to take in glucose from the blood. Insulin is also a storage hormone for fat and inhibits fat mobilization (use) from fat cells.

Bottom line: Carbohydrate drives insulin drives fat. (Good Calories, Bad Calories-Gary Taubes 2007)


So how many calories from carbs do we need in our diet? Would you believe zero? That’s right! Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient for the body. Now don’t get me wrong, fruits and vegetables provide wonderful vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body, but carbs themselves are not necessary. Here’s the rub- the same guy or gal who would tell you they can’t live without carbs are the same ones eating bread and sweets instead of fruits and veggies. Making better carb choices will have a huge impact on your waist and ultimately your health.

Here’s the plan:

Mark Sisson who posts Mark’s Daily Apple has a lot to say about nutrition. His Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan outlines carbohydrate intake for individuals who want to- maintain body composition, lose weight, or are highly active. Here it is in a nutshell:

  • If you are at ideal body composition now, 100-150 grams of carbohydrate per day is enough to keep you out of ketosis (and ketosis is NOT a bad thing) but away from storing excess as fat if you are the least bit active.
  • If you are looking to lose body fat, keeping carbs under 80 grams per day will help immensely in lowering insulin and taking fat out of storage.
  • If you are training hard for long periods of time, you should add more carbs (about 100 grams extra per day for every hour of training).