Monday, November 15, 2010
PROTEIN POWER AND THE 6-WEEK CURE FOR THE MIDDLE-AGED MIDDLE
The Drs. Eades were featured in the movie Fat Head, and I really liked everything they were saying, and disagreed with nothing. So when I saw that they had this new (2009) book out, and I have stubborn belly fat, I got the book from the library.
The main point of the book is that, for some people, eating low carb is not enough, and some extra measures need to be taken to detox "fatty liver", also known as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). The book goes into great detail explaining the difference between Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SAT) and Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT), with VAT being the more dangerous to health of the two. SAT is the fat the lives just under your skin, and VAT is the fat that lives in your abdomen and invades your vital organs.
According to the Eades, a fatty liver will not be able to deal with VAT because it is being overtaxed dealing with toxins and fat within itself. Detoxing the liver, and getting the fat out of the liver, will very quickly return it to health and give it a chance to do its job, and VAT will be decreased.
So far, it's sounding pretty good, right?
Next up in the book was the method used to heal NAFLD: The first two weeks of the plan involve drinking a special protein shake three times each day plus one very low carb meal once per day. The calories for the day are around 1400, with 86g fat (55% of total calories), 127g protein (36% of calories) and 30g carbohydrate (9% of calories). This information is not given in the book - I input what was suggested for a woman my size into www.fitday.com to get the values. So this is definitely a lower calorie diet than what I am used to. According to the book, the caloric restriction in combination with the Leucine is supposed to burn fat while preserving muscle. During this two weeks, no caffeine, alcohol and certain drugs are permitted.
I googled Leucine, and found that it is a supplement taken by body builders to burn fat and increase muscle. One of the effects of Leucine is to supress the appetite so that you are not starving while your calories are being reduced.
The shake is any low carb protein shake you like, plus heavy cream, a little sweetener (optional) and a nice big dose (2500mg) of the amino acid l-Leucine. Leucine is supposed to preserve muscle while the body is burning fat. As an alternative to Leucine, you can use Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), which contain l-Leucine, l-Isoleucine and l-Valine. Either the Leucine or the BCAA can be taken in powder that you mix into a shake or water, or in capsule form.
The next two weeks of the plan involve eating a very low carb, low calorie diet consisting of three meals (and snacks, if you like) that exclude all dairy. Caffeine and alcohol are permitted back in moderation. I have not figured out the breakdown of macronutrients for this period, but looking at the suggested meal plans, it looks like what I am already eating. One difference in the "meat weeks", as they are unofficially referred to, is that carbs are restricted to less than 20 or so net carbs, and that would consist of vegetables.
The final stage of the plan is very similar to Atkins Lifetime Maintenance, with dairy being allowed.
The book says that you can find information and a special 6WC forum at the Protein Power (PP) website, but when I went there, I found that, although the Eades had intended to create this forum, they had not actually done it. I went to the regular PP forum, and found it very inactive, and all the discussion about 6WC had died down almost a year ago.
I tried asking a few questions about it and why it works, and was told that the Drs. Eades are the only ones who know the answers, and that I can try contacting them directly to see if they will answer. I did ask one question on Dr. Michael Eades' blog and got an answer, but my followup questions to him have not been answered. Maybe he will answer in time.
My own personal opinion is that the presence of VAT in my own body may be the reason I have not been able to lose a big portion of my body fat, and why I have a large belly that just won't go down. So I am very interested in trying this, but my main question, which no one on the PP forum could answer, and which Dr. Mike has not answered (yet), is this: Why do I have to drink protein shakes? If the reason behind the success of the plan is the increase of protein and the decrease of fat and carbs along with the supplementation with Leucine, then why can't I just eat whole foods that give me the same breakdown of macronutrients?
The best answer - actually, the only answer - I got on the PP forum was a variation of "Don't worry your pretty little head about why you can't just eat food in the right breakdown of fat, protein and carbs. Just do it and don't ask questions!"
Hmmm... That's not good enough for me, and I am not willing to hand over the responsibility for my health to someone who wrote a book and will not tell me why it works.
But, in the interest of possibly getting rid of my belly, once and for all, and decreasing my VAT, which is really dangerous to my health, I have decided to try my own adaptation of the 6-week cure. Here is what I plan to do, and as a matter of fact, I started yesterday:
I am going to eat a combination of real food and only one daily shake and take BCAA. I will eat bacon and eggs with butter for breakfast, along with BCAA, a shake and some fiber for lunch, along with BCAA, and some sort of fresh protein and veggies for dinner, along with BCAA.
The way I was eating:
137g fat (69%)
107g protein (23.5%)
34g total carbs (7.5%)
18g net carbs
The way I will eat for the next two weeks:
86g fat (55%)
127g protein (36%)
30g total carbs (9%)
10g net carbs
Basically, I will be cutting fat by 51 grams, increasing protein by 20 grams and my carbs will be staying pretty much the same. It's actually not that different than what I was advised by Colette Heimowitz, the Atkins nutritionist, to do this past summer. Atkins Induction fat intake is supposed to be 60-70%, and mine will be 55% - very slightly lower, and still a far cry from low fat or even moderate fat. And the protein recommended in the new Atkins book for a woman my height is 71-149 grams per day, so at 127, I am within that range.
Using my new body fat calculator (in the right hand column on this blog), my starting point yesterday morning was this:
0.49 waist-to-height ratio
0.77 waist-to-hip ratio
33.7% body fat (47.7 pounds)
66.3% lean mass (93.9 pounds)
As time goes on, I will give an update on how it is going. So far, so good, in that I did this yesterday, and I was not hungry. However, I found the taste of the BCAA pretty disgusting - kind of like grinding up a nasty-tasting pill and putting it in your mouth. But not so gross as to not do it.
One thing did happen yesterday, and I don't know how much of it to ascribe to the BCAA - After my first dose with breakfast, I felt somewhat energized, which is what all the google information said would happen. But after working out and having lunch and more BCAA, I suddenly got tired. Maybe it was just the workout. But then, when I took the BCAA after dinner, I got sleepy. There was no doubt about it this time!
I'll let you know if I have the same experience today, on a non-workout day.