Happy New Year to you and your family.
As the New Year begins, you may be thinking of making the same resolution I make each year. I want to get a little leaner and stay that way.
I seem to be able to accomplish most of my financial goals every year. As far as my social goals go – reaching out to my family and getting back in touch with people from my younger days – I seldom seem to get around to those. But I’m still going to resolve to try.
It’s keeping those few extra pounds off after I lose them that seems to be a big challenge. At least, it is for me.
I stay pretty fit, and I can get lean playing tennis and doing P.A.C.E. But then between traveling, working, writing, seeing patients… a few pounds always seem to creep back on. If I don’t do anything about it, extra fat will settle in around my waist.
So this year, I’m going to stick to one simple principle: eat extra protein.
Protein helps you build muscle and lose fat. But it may surprise you that eating extra protein helps you keep the fat from coming back.
It’s all about satiety – that feeling of being full. Protein gives you the feeling that the meal is done and you’ve had enough. Much more so than carbs or fat.
A study from doctors in the Netherlands proves this point. After the test subjects lost fifteen pounds each, they were divided into two groups. One group ate a regular diet. The other ate the same, but added an extra thirty grams of protein.
The group that didn’t have the protein gained back 350% more weight than the group with the protein supplement.1 And the few pounds the protein group gained back was muscle – not fat.
To top it off, the protein group was thinner around the waist. That little fact reminded me of my PACE Study Group and got me motivated again. In the PACE Study Group, people who followed the high-protein eating plan I include in my PACE Express DVD program had an average:
- loss of 24.7 total inches
- 10% drop in body fat
- fat loss of 25.4 pounds
- overall loss of 23.8 pounds
These numbers started to go down right away as soon as they started PACE, and people kept losing the fat through the entire study.
Some of the people got a much more dramatic drop than the average. Randy R. lost 45 pounds and more than 41 total inches. Shawna B. lost 31 pounds and 41 total inches off her waist, thighs and arms. Karen W. lost 45 pounds… and there are dozens more like her.
Also, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that eating more protein helps keep off pounds you’ve shed and continue dropping extra. That study looked at the added effect of combining more protein with a low-glycemic eating plan, like the one I show you in PACE Express.
Of the 1200 people in the NEJM study, only those who ate more protein and low-glycemic foods didn’t put back on the pounds. Even better, those who ate high protein with a low glycemic index continued to lose weight after the initial weight loss.2
As clear as this proof seems, you’d expect mainstream medicine to catch on, right? Wrong. If you visit the website for the American Heart Association, you’ll notice they have a “warning” against high-protein diets.
They claim that most Americans already eat more protein than their bodies need. Don’t ask me where they get this information. I can only guess. Most Americans barely get enough protein to survive let alone enough to build strong, resilient bodies.
They also suggest that high-protein diets restrict people from eating things like fruits and vegetables. As if we ate nothing but slabs of meat and raw eggs.
What modern medicine seems to forget is that your body is intelligent. It has the ability to adapt to change. By eating more protein than you need on any given day, you’re reminding your body that times are good. Life is abundant.
Protein boosts your sensitivity to the hormone leptin, which tells your brain that you’re full. As a result, you begin to feel the satisfaction that comes from having a good meal and you eat less. Then your body responds further by burning off fat. If you don’t need it, there’s no reason to keep it around.
So you don’t have to live the life of a monk, or eat bird food and grass. If you really want to drop a few stubborn extra pounds this year, here’s what I’m doing, and I recommend you do too:
- At every meal, remember to have a pure source of protein. This means eating grass-fed beef and/or wild seafood whenever possible.
- To add extra protein, instead of sticking with the standard recommendation of 50-60 grams a day, try eating one gram of protein for every pound of lean muscle. If you weigh 180 and have 20 percent body fat, you have 144 pounds of lean muscle mass. So shoot for 144 grams of protein a day. If you don’t know your body fat percentage, the average man is between 15 and 18 percent, and the average woman is between 18 and 22 percent. To get that protein boost, you can use a scoop of protein powder mixed into your favorite beverage.
- Also, you want to eat sources of protein that are as complete as possible. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so you want foods with an amino acid score at or higher than 100. Some fruits and vegetables have this… like the avocado with a score of 129. Beans, soy, and flax are not good sources. They are lower than 100.
- Always balance your diet with a healthy portion of fruits and vegetables. These give you the antioxidants and many of the minerals you need to keep your metabolism going and burn off fat. Plus, they are much lower on the glycemic index than grains.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Kovacs, EM, et. al. “High protein intake sustains weight maintenance after body weight loss in humans.” International Journal of Obesity, 2003; 28, 57–64.
2. Larson, T, et. al. “Diets with High or Low Protein Content and Glycemic Index for Weight-Loss Maintenance.” N Engl J Med, 2010; 363:2102-2113.