The Protein Boost Diet Excerpts
An important pillar of The Protein Boost Diet is eating specific combinations of protein-rich foods throughout the day to deliver a complete spectrum of the amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – that boost energy-burning in your cells. These foods also enhance the action of the weight-loss hormones leptin and thyroid hormone in your body. We now know from scientific research that certain amino acids have the ability to activate the fat-burning process. For this reason, I designed the Protein Boost Diet to include at least two different protein sources at each meal to provide you with the most complete and well-balanced amino acid profile. The selection of specific proteins at each meal also aims at providing you with the amino acids that improve hunger, cravings, anxiety, and mood. The Protein Boost Diet is more than just a high protein diet. I structured it so that it fulfills other important fundamentals such as eating an optimal amount of fiber and eating good fats rather than bad. Another pillar of my diet is reducing the sugar in your system, especially at certain times of the day, so you regain control over insulin, another hormone that affects weight. That’s part of why I ask you to synchronize mealtimes with certain times of the day. For your weight-related hormones to function effectively, you must eat when your internal clock can best regulate your hormone levels and how you metabolize nutrients. No other diet program that I know of takes this meal timing seriously or helps you understand how you can do this.
Leptin’s job is to make you limit food intake and speed up metabolism to burn extra fat. IT accomplishes this by telling your brain and body how much fat you’re carrying. This hormone, produced by fat tissue itself, is one of the primary players in maintaining a stable body-fat balance. Women have two to three times the leptin of men because women tend to have more body fat generally, especially under the skin, and this subcutaneous fat produces much more leptin than visceral abdominal fat.
Leptin’s paradox is plain to see. The more fat you have, the more leptin your body produces in an effort to reduce fat stores. This sounds like a good thing – more leptin to help burn fat – but there’s catch. Even though all that body fat is churning out leptin to make you get rid of fat, you don’t lose weight because the fat you already have causes leptin to work less efficiently. This is leptin resistance. Put simply, when you’re overweight or obese, leptin loses its ability to suppress your appetite and speed up metabolism. As you gain weight – or if you already have leptin resistance for other reasons such as thyroid imbalance or growth hormone deficiency – leptin levels become higher than normal, even though it’s not doing its job. Chronically high levels of leptin make the hormone even less efficient, perpetuating a cycle of weight gain and slow metabolism. This is why it’s so easy to start on a cycle of continuous weight gain once you start gaining weight. Leptin resistance leads to a higher level of leptin resistance, and the cycle continues.
Common habits have powerful effects on hormones and weight. Everything we do is connected to hormones that increase our appetite for fattening foods and encourage our body’s tendency to accumulate fat. Your uncontrollable eating behavior is likely to be the result of your sluggish metabolism. We who are trying to lose weight face an incredibly resilient metabolism.
Think about your life as you review the list below. The more of these factors you’ve been subjected to in the past, the more your metabolic machinery reacts by pushing you to select weight gain-promoting foods. Each and every one of these slows down your metabolism, causing it to burn fewer calories. And if you’re not burning them off,
you are gaining them as weight. Unless you address these issues, put a half to them on every level, and reset your metabolism, you’ll continue your weight gain and have a hard time reversing it. I discuss each of these in greater detail in the chapters indicated.
1. Eating meals rich in carbohydrates and animal fat and erratic times, nighttime eating, or skipping meals (Chapters 5 and 10)
2. Physical inactivity (Chapter 11)
3. Stress and anxiety (Chapter 4)
4. Depression (Chapter 4)
5. Insulin resistance (Chapter 1)
6. Sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, and poor-quality sleep (Chapter 5)
7. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS; in this chapter and Chapter 6)
8. Menopause (Chapter 6)
9. Low testosterone (Chapter 6)
10. Thyroid hormone imbalance (Chapters 1 and 3)
11. Growth hormone deficiency (Chapter 3)
12. Toxic buildup, including obesogens (in this chapter and Chapter 8)
13. Food sensitivities (Chapter 9)
14. Medications (in this chapter)
15. GI bacterial imbalance (Chapters 4 and 8)
16. Antioxidant deficiency (Chapter 8)
As you can see, people who gain a lot of weight over a period of years don’t necessarily gain it just because they started eating a crummy diet. It’s more typical for life events such as the ones listed above to add to the struggle. For most of my patients, a constellation of factors causes the metabolic machinery to trigger fat storage. No matter which of these events occurred in your past or present, you can be sure of one thing: the appetite and satiety (fullness) center in your hypothalamus are in charge of making you crave foods rich in sugar and fat.
Many doctors and other health professionals continue to view low-grade hypothyroidism with normal blood tests as no big deal. Worse, hypothyroidism, whether low-grade or not, is often not treated with the right amount or type of thyroid medication – this despite the fact that low thyroid leads to poor quality of life, depressive symptoms, fatigue, cardiovascular damage, and weight gain.
Too little thyroid hormone will perpetuate the slowdown of metabolism that I talked about earlier.
Too much hormone in your system will be perceived by your body as a threat to survival and ultimately trigger weight gain once the excess of thyroid hormone is corrected and your thyroid levels are normalized. While too much thyroid hormone can make you lose weight temporarily, it can also make you gain weight even when you still have too much thyroid hormone in y our system. Remember that too much thyroid hormone destroys protein, muscle, and bone – and reduced muscle mass, as you now know, slows metabolism. Once your metabolic machinery detects the presence of too much thyroid hormone, your appetite-reducing friend leptin becomes less efficient and you’ll be driven to eat more food. You also accumulate free radicals in your body and become resistant to insulin, and the weight-gain cycle worsens.
The way you respond to stress determines your body’s biological response to it. A certain boss might make your days miserable with stress, while an unaffected coworker shrugs it off with “C’est la via – I don’t let him get to me.” When you hear this boss coming, your stress response is triggered and your body goes into metabolic overdrive. How does it work? Your emotional brain uses the way you perceive stress rather than the stress itself to determine how much adrenaline, noradrenaline, and stress hormone cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands and whether your blood pressure rises or not. Also, the way you integrate stress and how you deal with it internally stressed like this regularly, you will overproduce the hormones that make you fat.
If your life is awash in chronic stress, you must address these emotional challenges or your body’s physiological response will both hurt your health and make you gain weight. Remember, physiological responses are triggered by hormones in cells that affect your organs and whole body. Stress can cause you to sleep and exercise less, smoke more, and lose control over how much alcohol and food you consume. Extensive research shows that stress is at the root of an extraordinary number of health conditions, including becoming overweight or diabetic. Stress not only can make you take in more calories, it affects your food choices and leads you to eat fattening goods instead of vegetables, meats, and fish. That’s because stress can loosen inhibitions and lead to loss of self-control over what you choose to eat and how much. You eat when you’re stressed in some way. Gorging on high-calorie snacks temporarily makes you feel better in threatening situations. Stress makes you crave comfort foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar. Over time, your behavioral response to stress becomes automatic, causing you to seek out the same comfort foods to generate those good feelings again.
For peak metabolism and biological function, your central circadian clock and hormone fluctuations need to work in concert with the metabolic activities of your organs. When it comes to metabolism, your body has its own rhythm… and its very own clock. Cells and organs are equipped with a cellular clock, which unlike your central circadian clock isn’t affected by light/dark signals. Rather, it runs on signals from body temperature, food consumption, the hormone cortisol, and the types of nutrients you deliver to your body (your cells have nutrient sensors that help your cellular clock function properly). Remarkably, because of this clock your cells and organs expect surges in specific nutrients at the times they’re accustomed to getting them. The timing and consistency of eating and the types of nutrients you consume help align your two clocks.
Your cellular clock, through “clock genes,” tells your cells when they need to undertake activities such as burning fat and how much needs to be burned. Even though your central circadian clock and cellular clocks are controlled separately, they work in harmony when you’re well and when you’re disciplined about the timing and consistency of your eating schedule. If your clocks are out of sync, you’ll begin to have shifts in metabolism and unbalanced hormone activity that doesn’t match optimal metabolic activity. This can lead to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Before menopause, estradiol causes women to lay down more fat under the skin rather than around the abdomen, while men tend to naturally accumulate more belly fat. Fat tissue under the skin contains more receptors for estradiol, while visceral fat (which collects around the abdomen and vital internal organs) contains more receptors for the male hormone testosterone. This explains why at menopause women tend to have a shift in body fat from the buttocks and thighs to the abdomen. Belly fat excess is a harbinger of insulin resistance and high cholesterol.
Now you understand why estradiol’s decline affects so many aspects of your metabolism and the way you look and feel. You might also wonder why your cholesterol, which has been in a normal range for years, is suddenly abnormally high. All these changes are consequences of low estradiol levels. The redistribution of fat to your waistline now makes your vulnerable to heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. Suddenly, after menopause, cardiovascular disease becomes a major cause of death.
The Protein Boost Diet is adapted from both the Mediterranean diet and the high-protein diet principles for weight loss and optimal health, and it is based on the latest hormone discoveries. The Mediterranean diet is far closed to the way our ancestors ate than the refined, processed, high-sugar, and high-saturated-fat foods most people eat today. Its menu includes fresh and locally grown whole, unrefined plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds; fewer than four eggs a week; very small amounts of red meat; and virtually no processed foods. Sweets in the Mediterranean diet are made from nuts, modest amounts of concentrated sugars (such as honey), dairy products (cheese and yogurt), and olive oil. A moderate amount of wine is enjoyed with meals.
The Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits. Adopting its general principles can make you lose weight, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, reduce your cardiovascular risk, and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The Mediterranean diet is not a low-fat plan, but it helps reverse metabolic syndrome and glucose intolerance by incorporating good fats from nuts and olive oils. It includes high amounts of good monounsaturated fatty acids and low amounts of unhealthful saturated and trans fats. If you have diabetes, the Mediterranean diet will give you the best control of your blood sugar.
Besides incorporating any aspects of the Mediterranean diet into the Protein Boost Diet, I also used the principles of a high-protein diet similar to the principles embraced by the Protein-Rich Oriental Diet (the PRO diet), developed by Korean researchers, with well-documented, lasting effectiveness. On the PRO, you eat low-glycemic, low-saturated-fat, high protein foods made up of legumes, soybean curd (tofu), soy milk, mushrooms, nuts, seafood, fish, chicken breast, other lean meats, and vegetables. You do not eat any foods that are high in simple sugars, refined grains, or saturated fats. The PRO diet results in twice the weight loss of, and a greater reduction in wait circumference than, calorie-restrictive diets.
If you’re overweight or obese it’s a virtual certainty you have high levels of oxidative stress in your body and a great deal of inflammation in your fat tissue. Oxidative stress can cause the weight-controlling hormones leptin and insulin to work inefficiently. Taking antioxidants helps clear a path toward successful weight loss by improving
metabolic efficiency. Antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamins C and E, and coenzyme Q-10 relieve and prevent high levels of oxidative stress in mitochondria. Keeping your mitochondrial oxidative stress/antioxidant system shipshape with a complete antioxidant regimen allows mitochondria to continuously burn energy and boost metabolism.
Some antioxidants are vitamins, but not all. Trace minerals like vanadium, copper, manganese, and molybdenum work like antioxidants to protect your from free radicals. Polyphenols and flavonoids are other types of antioxidants you get from tea and coffee and from eating the fruit and vegetable selections in my diet. These effects of polyphenols and flavonoids are similar to those of vitamins in that they transport free radicals out of your body.
My favorite foods list has many items in each category, and on the Meal Plans you’ll quickly see that some foods are eaten more often than others – protein being an obvious example. You want to be well-stocked with meats, fish, and seafood, legumes, veggies, whole grains, fruits, and nuts. Meats can easily be frozen in portion sizes, and water-packed canned tuna and salmon are excellent choices. Ideally, you’ll purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at least once a week. If you don’t have time or you prefer buying these foods in bulk (especially seasonal items), with a little prep you can easily freeze them for later. Freezing doesn’t interfere with nutritional content.
In this chapter, you’ll find detailed meal plans for Phases 1 and 2 as well as DIY suggestions for building your own meals that conform to the diet. My Favorite Foods lists are here, too. You’ll refer to them frequently as you get to know which food combinations create the well-balanced meals that constitute a perfect diet for our metabolism and your lean body to come. Did I mention the formula for making your own recipes? That’s here, too. This food is real and satisfying. You’ll never feel that you’re on a diet and in fact you might wonder how you’ll eat everything I suggest for breakfast. The breakfasts might seem large compared with grabbing a slice of toast and coffee… and therein lies the magic. Enjoy this healthy way of eating, be satisfied, and be trim.
The 20/10 workout is built on a formula that requires spending less time mindlessly exercising and spending more energy focusing on performance. This in turn accelerates your energy level because you’re pushing your mitochondria to work better even when you’re not exercising – the well-functioning metabolism we’ve been aiming for. I created the 20/10 program, and I designed it specifically to be easily folded into the busiest life. As you’ll see later in this chapter, it can even be adapted for travel.
Many people still erroneously think weight is simple matter of calories eaten and calories burned – that less food plus an increase in exercise equals weight loss. The reality is a bit more complex. Studies show that exercise alone results in minimal weight loss when compared with watching your food intake alone, the latter resulting in nearly twice as much weight loss. But here’s the kicker: combining the two increases initial weight loss by a massive 20 percent compared with diet alone. Follow my diet and other recommendations for hormone balancing and do about half an hour of exercise daily to give yourself the very best chance of getting control of your weight. Many studies show that exercise plays a significant role in weight maintenance, even more important once your start shedding pounds.