Volume 4, Issue 49
December 8, 2011

Two ways to avoid adding
pounds during the holidays

This is a great time of year. The holidays bring us close to family and friends. But there’s a down side. It’s almost impossible to avoid all the wonderful “treats” of the season. From cookies, cakes, and pies to breads and pastas, the temptations to overindulge in carbohydrates is ever-present. And overindulgence will almost always result in weight gain and, eventually, disease.

Next to eating processed food and sugar, the worst thing we can do to our diets is to eat too many carbohydrates. This is probably the most influential factor driving the disease rate these days. But when I tell a patient they have to lay off the carbs, I often hear, “You don’t understand, doctor, I’m addicted to them. I can’t seem to stop.” Since the obesity rate in the U.S. is around 40%, this is an extremely serious problem. This time of year, it may seem especially hard to say no to all those treats. But let me give you two ways to make it easier – and avoid that annual holiday weight gain.

The first comes from a recently released study that gives a simple solution to these cravings.

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In this study, the researchers looked at the effect of various levels of protein in the diet. They followed 22 lean patients over three four-day periods. The subjects did not know the protein, carbohydrate, or fat content of the foods they were eating. And they were allowed to freely choose how much food they ate, including snacks.

During the first study period, the participants ate a diet consisting of only 10% protein and 60% carbohydrate. In the second period, they ate 15% protein and 55% carbohydrate. And in the third period, they ate 25% protein and 45% carbohydrate. The researchers kept the amount of fat constant at 30% in all the diets. Here’s the interesting thing that happened.

When they were on the 10% protein diet, they not only ate much more, they also snacked much more. In short, they developed an increased craving for carbohydrates. But when they increased the protein composition of their diets to 15% and 25%, this didn’t happen. This study points sharply to the likelihood that many people who are overweight and crave carbohydrates are that way because they do not eat enough protein.

Alison Gosby, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia and lead author of the study, commented on the results. She said, “Our findings have considerable implications for body weight management.”

Dr. Gosby believes that a decline in the ratio of protein to fat and carbohydrates in the diet both increases the desire to eat more. It also increases a particular desire to eat more fat and carbohydrates. I believe she’s right. So how much protein should you eat to avoid the weight gain and other problems?

The data from this study showed that eating more protein than 15% did not confer any advantage in this regard. So for the so-called average 170 pound adult, this means you need to eat only about two to three ounces of protein per day. You can achieve this by eating around one pound of meat, 10 eggs (obviously, you don’t have to get all your protein from one source), or 7 ounces of chicken breast.

If you have especially strong cravings for carbs, supplements can help. Try taking Craving Quencher from Advanced Bionutritionals. It can help you overcome emotional eating, which is an especially big problem through the holidays.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

REF:
Gosby AK, et al "Testing protein leverage in lean humans: A randomized controlled experimental study" PLoS One 2011; DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0025929.

Low-Protein Diet May Lead to Overeating By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today October 13, 2011.


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