- Protein Is Primary. It is the foundation to your diet success. The key is to eat the correct type and amount of protein at the right time intervals. The providers at Dr. Simonds Weight Loss will make a specific recommendation to you about your total daily protein needs. Most patients will need between 90 and 150 grams of protein daily while dieting. Getting this correct amount of protein will spare your lean muscle mass while losing weight, and force your body to burn its own fat for energy. More importantly, consuming 30-40 grams of protein in one meal raises your metabolic rate by almost 40% for 3-4 hours after you do this. This is the same as running 30 minutes on a treadmill. Less than 30 grams will not evoke this response. The best protein source to produce this change is protein from a milk source like whey or calcium caseinate. Protein from eggs, meats (poultry, red meat, and pork) and fish are acceptable also. Vegetable protein lacks the amino acid composition to produce this effect. If you don’t eat a large portion of carbohydrates (carbs) with it, your body will get the extra 40% of energy it requires by burning abdominal fat stores – in other words, it slims your waistline and who doesn’t want that?
- Fat is Filling and It Doesn’t Make You Fat. The fullness, or satiety, that fat produces helps you feel satisfied with much smaller amounts of food. In addition, in the absence of carbs, fat serves as a great energy source, raises good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers your triglycerides (free floating fat in your blood). In the absence of high insulin levels (which come from eating carbs), your body’s physiologic response to fat is to burn it – not store it.
- Carbs Make You Crave, and They Make You Fat. Flour, sugar, rice, and potatoes, in most of their forms, are absorbed quickly by your GI tract. This causes a surge in insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels promote fat storage – particularly in your abdomen. Elevated insulin levels will produce other evils: increased hunger, increased cravings, lower metabolic rate, high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities, and blood sugar abnormalities.
- Portions Are Powerful. A good goal is to get the content of the food you are eating correct, so that you can eat smaller portions and be satisfied with that. If prescription medications are needed to reduce appetite and help with this, we can provide them. Many people do well keeping track of their food intake using an app such as My Fitness Pal, which can help ensure you are consuming the proper amount of protein each day and can also keep you accountable on your calorie and carbohydrate intake.
- Timing Is Tantamount. One of the common problems I see is patients skipping meals, eating one meal per day, etc. This creates a host of problems. My recommendation is to get at least 3 “servings of protein” (30 – 40 grams each) spaced out about 4-5 hours apart. By doing this, and limiting carb intake, you will find that your weight loss will be greater, your satiety (feeling of fullness) will be improved, your metabolism will work better, you will lose more body fat, and you will be happier with the entire “diet experience.”
So, in sum: protein is primary, fat is filling and it doesn’t make you fat, carbs make you crave and they make you fat, smaller portions are powerful, and timing your food intake to spread it evenly throughout the day is ideal.
Wickham B. Simonds, M.D.
Diplomate ABEM, ABOM