Monday, January 30, 2006

Protein Power LifePlan

Several people have asked me to give an explanation of what Protein Power (PP) is and how it's different from other low carb plans. While I've read a lot of research about low carb and its effect on health, I've only read Dr Atkin's New Diet Revolution (DANDR) and The Protein Power Lifeplan (PPLP) from cover to cover, so I can only really comment on these two.

Dr Atkin's plan basically calls for high fat intake, including saturated fat, moderate protein intake, and low carb intake. Protein Power calls for "adequate" protein (based on current weight), low carbs and as many fats as needed to maintain the diet and calories you need.
Both plans emphasize natural foods with minimal use of artificial sweeteners and packaged/processed foods. Both plans have you increase your carbohydrate intake as you progress. And both plans emphasize exercise and getting most of your carbohydrates from a variety of fruits and vegetables.

I started following Dr Atkin's plan, but since I'm not much of a fat lover, but I am a lover of meats, I found myself leaning more towards the Protein Power plan.

Please note that the purpose of this is not to give all the information about the PPLP, but simply a brief overview of the dietary portion of the plan. The book is an easy and very interesting read. There are detailed explanations on how we metabolize the different macronutrients in our food, why we need each, how insulin works and more. There is a fairly extensive explanation about fats and cholesterol, the benefits of sunshine (and the dangers of sunscreen), the use and abuse of supplements and antioxidants, and the importance of exercising our bodies
and our minds!

The main basis, but not the entirety, of PP is the diet. There are several aspects of the plan, and loosing weight is not the main goal. The main goal of PP is to
"rehabilitate and preserve you health or to wring all the potential from and already healthy body....PPLP offers a plan that will help you: lower your cholesterol, triglycerides; lower your blood sugar and blood insulin levels; loose weight and feel fit again". (pg 306, PPLP*)

There are several aspects of the plan, with the nutrition part as the center. Stretching, rest, mediation and relaxation, sunlight, new learning, and exercise are all very important parts of the plan and all are interactive with the other parts.

Nutrition. The cornerstone of the plan. In the beginning, you start off with the "Intervention" level, which is usually a major change in your diet and lifestyle. Once you regain your health and/or loose most of your weight you progress to the "Transition" level where you gradually increase your carb intake, then onto the "Maintenance" level where you should remain for life.

PPLP recognizes that there are different people willing to commit differently to the plan, so they have further broken it down into 3 levels of commitment. "The Hedonist" is the person that wants the biggest bang with the least amount of change. "The Dilettante" is the middle of the road person who is willing to make more changes, and therefore gets more benefit. And "The Purist", are those willing to follow the plan in its strictest sense, eats as close as possible to what our ancestors ate. PPLP also recognizes that most of us will be bouncing between the different levels of commitment, as our life and needs dictate. For each level of commitment the protein/fat/carb levels in each of the nutrition levels remains the same, but where you get them differs. The Purist doesn’t eat dairy or grains, and eats only free-range and organic foods. The Hedonist is the least restrictive and can even eat "white" foods like bread, potatoes, rice, etc as long as they keep to the carb limits per meal.

Protein: The cornerstone of the cornerstone. We all need protein, and for PPLP to work, we must ensure proper intake of good quality, complete proteins. In Protein Power (their first book) the Eades provided a formula to calculate your minimum protein needs. The calculation used your lean body mass and used your level of activity in the calculation. In PPLP they have a chart. As your weight goes down so does your level of protein. For a woman 5'1" and 100-110 pounds, the protein requirement per meal is as low as 20 gms, but another woman that is 5'6" and 300 pounds would need as much as 46gms per meal! My personal level is currently 34gms/meal (5'8"/205#) I don't always get that much in each meal, so I use snacks to make up the difference, shooting for a total of at least 102gm/day. (I would have to weigh 145 or less to lower my protein requirement, which would then be 27gm/meal)
Fat: PPLP doesn't say how much fat you should eat, as much as what kinds you should eat. Trans-fats should be avoided. They emphasize that you should eat: Omega-3 fats, found in coldwater fish, flax and wild game; Monosaturated fats like those found in nuts, seeds, olives and avocados (and their naturally pressed oils); and Saturated fats found in meat, eggs, poultry and dairy. (Naturally saturated only, artificially saturated are not good!) They also emphasize keeping your intake of Omega-6 fats low, such as those found in corn and other vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats should be limited due to their instability and their high Omega-6 content. How much fat you eat is dependent on your weight and activity level. If you are active and maintaining you can eat as much as needed to satisfy your appetite and keep your calories up. If you are trying to loose, you want to watch the amounts so you create a calorie deficit.
Carbohydrates: Again, your intake depends on many things. At the Intervention level you should keep your Effective Carbohydrate Content (ECC) at 7-10gms per meal. (Total carb - dietary fiber = ECC) As you more to Transition and then Maintenance your ECC will increase. Since each of us is different, you'll have to slowly increase your carb intake in Transition to see what you can take in and still maintain your weight. (Some people I know can only eat 40-50gms/day, while others can take in 120-130gms/day and still maintain.) You can get your carbohydrates from wherever you want. For example a "hedonist" may have less than 1/4 cup of rice, while the "purist" would get them mainly from veggies. The important thing is to keep within your ECC at what ever level you're at.
Vitamins and Minerals: PPLP emphasizes a variety of foods, and you should be able to get your minimum requirements per day, but they also feel that the limits are often too low. They also recognize that no matter how "good" for you a food is, we all have our likes and dislikes and know we won't eat something we dislike, simply because it's "good" for us! Their recommendations are: MVI (without added iron) daily, Magnesium 400-600mg/day, and Vitamin E 400IU mixed tocopherals and tocotrienols/day, Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) 100mg or more/day, Vitamin C about 200mg/dayand Coenzyme Q10 about 100mg/day. And, most important, Potassium about 4 99mg tabs/day. (Always check any medications you take with your pharmacist to make sure none cause Potassium retention!)

Remember, this is just a brief outline, so you can see if this is a plan you might be interested in and be able to follow for life. I purposely kept things brief as the book gives so much more information that will help you understand and stick with the plan. If you decide this is a good plan for you and one that you can follow for life, get a copy of the book and read it cover to cover! I recommend purchasing the book, so you'll have it handy when you need to check something, but you certainly can check it out of your local library!

There are many other books written by Michael R Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD. While I've not yet read any of them, except the original Protein Power, they are on my wish-list and I encourage you to read as many of them as possible.

I also encourage you to search the internet and find other books, papers, and research about the benefits of low carb as a lifestyle. I also strongly recomend readind some of the blogs written by "Dr Mike" and "Mary Dan", as well as Anthony Colpo, Dr Mercola and Dr Graveline's websites. If you're looking for support, I strongly recomend The Low Carb Forum, where you'll find many supportive, friendly people following various low carb plans. There's also an excellent recipe section. (see links at right)

I pretty much follow the Hedonist/Dilettante way of eating. I avoid most processed foods, and most artificial sweeteners. I eat organics when I can afford them, but mostly fresh from my local supermarket. I do eat dairy, but limit it in amounts and stick with whole-fat varieties. I also do drink coffee and tea, and even an occasional alcoholic drink. With the exception of dairy, I get almost all my carbs from vegetables and a few fruits, mainly berries.

*Any information and quotes attributed to PPLP come from The Protein Power Lifeplan by Michael R Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD. The version I have is copyrighted 2000.

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