Lean and Mean: Cut the Carbs, Add the Fat to your Nutrition
Over the last decade, expert advice has directed us to boost our intake of carbohydrates and dramatically decrease our consumption of fats. During that time, the average weight of Americans has increased by ten pounds. Nonetheless, the “eat more/weigh less” mantra continues to echo through our homes, offices, and gyms. It has led to excessively high-carbohydrate diets, with sometimes as much as 70 percent of calories coming from carbohydrates. While this type of diet may work for some men, it will more than likely lead the majority not only into a condition of overweight, but also one of blood sugar instability that can sap vital energy and dull the mind. No one diet will work for all men all of the time simply because everyone is biochemically unique. That uniqueness is shaped by ancestry, genetic heritage, and metabolic rate, all of which must be taken into consideration in personalizing a diet plan.
Every man wants to be strong and solid, and most believe that the best way to achieve an ideal body is through exercise. Although exercise has numerous benefits and is indeed an essential tool in body shaping, you may be surprised to learn that diet is equally important for two reasons. First, food consumption triggers the release of hormones that determine whether we will store excess body fat or bum it. Second, due to their hormonal effect, food choices can reduce or enhance the benefits of exercise.
This post will introduce you to a diet plan that works for most men most of the time and can be modified to meet individual needs. The formula is a special balance of fats, carbohydrates, and protein designed to switch the body into a fat-burning mode. It calls for 40 percent of total calories to be derived from carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, and potatoes), 30 percent from natural and unprocessed fats (such as butter and olive oil), and 30 percent from protein (including low-fat cottage cheese, turkey, water-packed tuna, eggs, fish, chicken, and lean beef). Many men can expect to increase lean muscle mass on this program in as little as thirty days, while trimming body fat to the ideal range of 14 to 18 percent.
The 40/30/30 diet plan was pioneered by Barry Sears, Ph.D., formerly of the Boston School of Medicine and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Independent studies from Pepperdine University and Sansum Medical Research Foundation in Santa Barbara, California have demonstrated that the 40/30/30 formula not only improves athletic performance significantly, but raises the level of the “good” HDL cholesterol and aids in weight loss. This program is also safe and effective for people with diabetes.
Research conducted over the last thirty years has shown that the proportions of the basic nutrients —carbohydrate, fat, and protein—determines whether we store fat or bum it. With the right mix of these nutrients, your body can become a fat-burning machine.
THE ROLE OF CARBOHYDRATES
The primary role of carbohydrates is to supply the energy that your body needs to function each day. Carbohydrates are abundant in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, peas, and beans. In general, foods derived from animals are not known to be rich in carbohydrates, although milk and milk products do contain significant amounts.
Carbohydrates are divided into two groups—simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, including glucose and fructose, are found in sugar and fruits, and are readily digested. Complexcarbohydrates are found in vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, and legumes. These carbohydrates are called starches, and are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to make up long, complex chains. Therefore, starch provides the body with a slow, steady supply of glucose because it must first be broken down during digestion.
Through digestion and metabolism, carbohydrates are converted into glucose, or blood sugar, to be used for fuel. The glucose is either used directly to provide energy for the body, or stored in the liver for future use.
While carbohydrate consumption may have the immediateGf&ct of increasing energy by raising blood sugar, the long-term result of overconsumption will be the lowering of sugar levels. Carbohydrate overload most often takes the form of excessive consumption of grains, especially wheat. In the shortterm, overload results in fatigue that is characteristic of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. The ultimate consequence, however, may be the development of a more severe blood-sugar disorder such as diabetes. In fact, the incidence of type II adult onset diabetes has increased alarmingly in recent years, especially among black and Hispanic people. Over 6 million American men now suffer from diabetes, while an estimated 3 million have early signs of the disease. Clearly, America has been growing sick and tired—and fat—as a result of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate craze.
Evidence suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, some ten thousand years ago, our ancestors subsisted on a diet approximating the macronutrient ratio of the 40/30/30 plan. They did not eat grains or dairy products. But changes in our diet have outpaced genetic adaptations. Our digestive systems have not evolved sufficiently to accommodate the incorporation of large amounts of grain. Wheat represents over 80 percent of our total grain consumption. Gluten, a plant protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley is not handled well by an increasing number of individuals. Though heredity plays a role in “gluten intolerance” (also known as sprue or celiac disease), diet is the initiating factor.
In gluten-sensitive individuals, the plant protein damages the lining of the intestines, causing malabsorption. The body’s inability to fully utilize vitamins and minerals leads to the development of any of the following symptoms: anemia, bloating, bone or joint pain, diarrhea, headache, intestinal pain, and muscle spasms and cramps. Gluten-intolerant men can substitute grains such as rice, millet, and buckwheat.
Another problem with grains—especially wheat, rye, and oats—is their high phytic-acid content. Phytic acid, a phosphorus-like compound, interferes with calcium absorption and limits ab sorption of other essential minerals, including iron, magnesium, and zinc. It’s concentrated in grain husks, so even healthy whole grains can provide high levels of phytic acid due to their bran content. Commercial breads also contain this compound in their yeast.
Overconsumption of carbohydrates, paired with underconsumption of essential fats, contributes to
the proliferation of the yeast germ Candida albicans, and to the development of hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency. These are all common conditions today that can lead to food allergies and sugar cravings. These conditions, in turn, aggravate the problem by depressing the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates.
The Insulin Response
Hormonal balance is a key to health maintenance and/or restoration. Since food elicits hormonal responses that can be beneficial or detrimental, it’s a good idea to cultivate the habit of conscious eating. We need to be aware of the effect our food choices will have—not only on our health, but on our appearance and mental state as well.
Losing weight on the high-carbohydrate diet can be difficult for some men, and keeping it off may be even harder. The unsuspected key to successful fat-burning is the hormone insulin. And insulin levels are controlled by the amount of carbohydrate in the diet. When we consume carbohydrates, the pancreas secretes insulin, which makes it possible for glucose, or blood sugar, to enter the cells and be converted into energy. Insulin prevents blood sugar from rising too high after a meal. It is a storage hormone that’s responsible for storing excess blood sugar as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissues. Glycogen storage capacity is limited. Once it’s exhausted, the body will convert excess carbohydrate to fat and store it under the direction of insulin.
Insulin is one of two hormones that is critically important to blood sugar control. The other, called glucagon, is released in response to protein consumption. Glucagon’s action is the opposite to that of insulin. They are inversely paired hormones—when one is high, the other is low. Glucagon is a mobilization hormone. When blood-sugar level drops—and with it, energy level—glucagon is secreted by the pancreas, causing stored sugar (glycogen) to be released as glucose from the liver to replenish the sugar supply in the blood. Glucagon release also raises energy levels by increasing the release of fatty acids from fat cells. So, while insulin lowers blood sugar and stores fat, glucagon raises blood sugar and mobilizes fat from storage. Obviously, too much insulin will sap energy and increase body fat.
Carbohydrate overloading tends to displace proteins needed by the body for immunity, stable blood-sugar levels, hormones, and tissue repair. Additionally, carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and potatoes are deficient in essential fats needed for the production of fat-burning hormones known as eicosanoids. The overconsumption of carbohydrates, with its subsequent stimulation of the insulin response, can lead to such effects as bloating, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, food cravings, and weight gain.
Many people consume complex carbohydrates in hopes of stabilizing blood sugar. What they are not aware of, however, is that some complex carbohydrates have a very high glycemicindex, which means that they convert quickly to blood sugar and therefore raise insulin levels rapidly. The glycemic index is a measure of the effect of carbohydrate on blood glucose levels. It compares how rapidly carbohydrates are converted to blood sugar compared with glucose, which is given an index of 100.
Fat phobia gave birth to the carbohydrate craze that has by no means been limited to athletes. Fat- phobic individuals are everywhere. They’re often motivated by a desire to lose weight and decrease the risk of developing the number-one killer in this country, heart disease. Many of these individuals avoid such basic nutritional staples as meat, eggs, and butter due to erroneous information they’ve received about cholesterol and fat. Instead, they fill up on sugar, which, ironically, will cause them to gain added pounds and increase their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The truth is that some amount of dietary fat is essential for good health. Besides providing insulation, which helps to maintain body temperature, fat acts as protective padding for your bones and internal organs. Fats facilitate oxygen transport, and are required for hormone production. They also aid in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and nourish the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves. And fats known as phospholipids are components of all cell membranes and other cellular structures. Without fat in your body, your cell membranes and nervous system would collapse. You would not be able to survive.
Of course, it’s possible to overdo fat consumption, and many Americans do. As nutritionist Robert Crayhon, puts it: ‘“Too much fat is a problem, but so is too much brown rice, exercise, or water. Anything in excess is unhealthy.”- And regardless of the quantity of fat consumed, if the quality is poor, health problems will develop. Poor quality fat includes fats and oils that have had the “good” fat refined right out of them The typical American diet includes too much total fat, too much of the wrong kinds of fats, and too little of the right kinds. But the opposite extreme, a diet very low in fat, can cause problems, too. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of fats, and how they affect the body.
Classification of Fats
Fats are composed of building blocks called fatty acids. There are three major types of fatty acids found in the diet and in the body: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. These chemical terms relate to the type and number of hydrogen bonds in the chemical structure of the fatty acid. The three different types of fatty acids have distinct characteristics and are predominant in different foods.
Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) have straight molecules, and they tend to be solid at room temperature. SFAs are found mainly in animal products, including meat fats, dairy products, coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil, and palm-kernel oil. Saturated fats have gotten the reputation of being “bad” fats because of their connection with high cholesterol and hardening of the arteries, but they are not bad in and of themselves. Moderate amounts of saturated fats, when consumed in balance with the essential fatty acids and a full spectrum of other nutrients, are not problematic in a healthy body. Too much saturated fat in the bloodstream, however, can prevent the blood from supplying sufficient amounts of the healthy essential fatty acids to the organs that need them Monounsaturated fatty acids(kQmo[) have one kink or bend in their molecules. They are liquid at room temperature, but solid when refrigerated. Oils such as olive, almond, apricot, kernel, peanut, canola (rapeseed), high-oleic safflower, and high-oleic sunflower oils are all monounsaturated fatty acids.
Polyunsaturatedfatty acids (PUFAs) have two or more kinks in their molecules. These fats remain liquid even when refrigerated, and can be found in com, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils. The omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which we will discuss next, are polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary for life and health. These fatty acids cannot be made by the body, so they must be supplied by the diet. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are the two EFAs that we require for good health, and omitting them from the diet can result in serious health problems.
Your body uses essential fatty acids to rebuild and produce new cells, and to maintain proper brain and nervous-system function. EFAs also help transport “bad” fats out of the body by emulsifying and moving saturated fats and cholesterol through the bloodstream and out of artery and tissue deposits. In addition, these fats control the cardiovascular and reproductive systems, and are crucial to the functioning of the immune system. Without EFAs, cell membranes weaken, making the body vulnerable to infection. Finally, essential fatty acids are also believed to have enzymelike functions or to be cofactors in enzymes.
Animal studies have shown that deficiencies in essential fatty acids can result in eczema and sterility. A deficiency of these essential fats can also cause acne; arthritis; dry, flaky skin; and inflammation. Overweight is linked with EFA deficiency as well, since, in the absence of essential fatty acids, the body converts sugar to fat much more rapidly. This causes blood sugar to drop and appetite to increase, giving rise to overeating.
Recent research has found that over 20 percent of adults, as well as many children and infants, have abnormally low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that people on extreme fat- restricted diets can show very low levels of omega-3s—less than 5 percent of normal in some cases. Worse still, illness creates a dramatically increased need for these EFAs. The following is a list of conditions known to correlate with omega-3 deficiencies. It was compiled by Dr. Bruce West and appeared in the March 1995 edition of his HealthAlert newsletter:
- B-vitamin deficiencies
- Coronary artery disease
- Coronary occlusion
- Crohn’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Reye’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sepsis (infection)
- Sjogren-Larsen syndrome
- Skin disease
- Vitamin-E deficiency
- Wiscott-Aldrich syndrome
Flaxseed oil is the best vegetable source of the omega-3s. Its consumption helps to oxygenate the body. It can be used liberally in salad dressings and/or substituted for butter over vegetables and grains. However, it cannot be used for cooking, as it is very heat sensitive. Canola oil, a monounsaturated oil, is another good vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids. It was developed in Canada from the rapeseed plant. Canola oil has a mild taste and may be used on salads, for baking, and for low-heat recipes. Other sources of omega-3 linolenic acid include cold-water fish—salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, herring, and anchovies—wild game, flax oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, soybeans, wheat sprouts, fresh sea vegetables, and leafy greens. Omega-6 linoleic acid can be found in vegetable oils, legumes, all nuts and seeds, most grains, organ meats, lean meats, leafy greens, borage, evening primrose oil, and gooseberry and black currant oils.
While no one knows the exact amount of omega-3 and omega- 6 fats needed for optimal health, researchers are warning us to be careful to maintain a good balance of these EFAs. A healthy ratio is said to be no more than three times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids, out of balance with the omega-3s, can promote health problems. For example, consuming too many omega-6 fats in relationship to omega-3s over a period of time will increase the risk of developing inflammatory and degenerative disorders like arthritis, urinary tract disorders, coronary artery disease, lupus, or multiple sclerosis. We can correct this imbalance by adding more omega-3s from the food sources listed above. However, we must be careful not to overcorrect the initial problem, because an overabundance of omega-3s can cause excessive bleeding, whereas omega-3 deficiency can lead to excessive clotting and artery obstruction. The higher the ratio of omega- 3 to omega-6 fatty acids, the less likely that a clot will obstruct the artery.
Replacing saturated fat with essential fats will lead to a healthier, leaner body. EFAs are burned up in the body faster than other dietary fats and their presence is vital in the diet to achieve weight loss. One omega-6 EFA in particular, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), activates the fat-burning process.
Jeff, a forty-two-year-old overweight male who believed he was doing everything right could not lose a pound. He had read “Beyond Pritikin ” and called my office to inquire whether he, a male could go on the same program as his wife. She was following a lower carbohydrate diet and adding GLA in the form of evening primrose oil to her regimen. She not only lost her desired seven pounds, but also several inches around her waist. I encouraged Jeff to follow a similar program and get on the GLA pronto. Three weeks later Jeff wired a dozen roses to the office with a note: “Thanks—One rose for every pound lost. ”
Omega-3s actually lower triglycerides and the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body. Adults need a total intake of two to five tablespoons of EFA-rich oil daily. Most of this amount can be obtained from food—whole foods, not refined ones. Generally, I recommend supplemental amounts of EFAs—one tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day for the omega-3 it provides, and one tablespoon of unrefined safflower oil or four capsules of GLA from evening primrose oil as a source of omega-6 EFAs.
While carbohydrate consumption raises insulin levels and lowers glucagon, protein consumption does the opposite—it raises glucagon and lowers insulin. This is where the need for macronutrient balance comes into play. Fats enter the picture in that they affect the production of a little known group of hormones called eicosanoids.Though their importance has been recognized only recently, eicosanoids are the oldest known hormones and, like glucagon, they are fat-burning friends when the right kind are released. They are said to act only upon the cell that produces them or upon an adjacent cell and are known to exist for only a few seconds.
Therefore, unlike the many other hormones, eicosanoids cannot be measured. They are a part of natural body chemicals with such exotic names as leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and prostaglandins. These substances regulate every cell in the body and are essential to every life form on the planet. Eicosanoids are made from linoleic acid, one of the EFAs. It is not just EFA intake however, but everything else that is eaten as well, that will determine the amounts and ratios of the different kinds of eicosanoids generated from the linoleic acid. Simply stated, there are “good” series- 1 and “bad” series-2 eicosanoids.
Good eicosanoids regulate the cardiovascular system and control the mobilization of stored body fat. The balance of macronutrients in the diet will determine the ratio of good-to-bad eicosanoids. An excess of series-2 eicosanoids can lead to:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Connective tissue disease
- Fluid retention
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Pulmonary embolism
In fact, every known symptom and disease process requires an excess of series-2 eicosanoids.- The most important dietary factor in determining a favorable eicosanoid balance is protein-to- carbohydrate ratio. Overproduction of series-2 eicosanoids results from excessive carbohydrate intake and inadequate intake of dietary protein. According to research, the ideal ratios are reflected in the 40 / 30 / 30 formula. A significant alteration of these percentages at any meal can throw off hormonal balance. And, if carbohydrate levels are too high, body fat will be stored and blood sugar lowered.
Table 1. The Opposing Functions of Eicosanoids
Jay Robb, a California-based fitness consultant and author of The Fat Burning Diet (Loving Health Publications, 1994), knows first-hand about the problems associated with a low-fat, high- carbohydrate diet and the advantages gained from cutting carbohydrates and adding fat. Robb spent sixteen years searching for the perfect diet to control his hypoglycemia. Through trial and error, he hit upon a diet plan that not only controls blood sugar, but also assists in fat-burning. He now advocates a diet that is low in natural carbohydrates and contains adequate protein and healthy fat. According to Robb: “The body is designed to use carbohydrates as fuel only temporarily. When we return to natural fat burning—which is what you’re doing before you have that cereal and fruit for breakfast— all insulin is controlled.”-
Also in the eicosanoid category are hormones called prostaglandins. These are involved in such vital processes as blood clotting, hormone production, inflammation, pain perception, and smooth muscle contraction. As members of the eicosanoid family, there are “good” and “bad” prostaglandins. The balance of omega- 6 to omega-3 oils is critical to proper prostaglandin metabolism Unfortunately, this balance is upset in the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is composed largely of processed foods from which omega-3s have been removed to retard spoilage. Our diets also tend to be deficient in EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish, wild game, and flaxseed and canola oils. Deficiency of this fatty acid is also intensified by consumption of hydrogenated fats that produce the bad prostaglandins.
40/30/30 BALANCE FOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
With today’s emphasis on carbohydrate loading for athletes, a typical diet often consists of 70- percent carbohydrate, 15-percent protein, and 15-percent fat. This kind of fuel mix elevates insulin levels, encouraging hypoglycemia with an accompanying lack of concentration. Fat is stored and any of the health problems associated with unfavorable eicosanoid production can develop. Such effects obviously impair athletic performance and provide the biochemical scenario for the marathon runner who hits the wall or the tennis player who loses his focus after a few hours.
The more desirable 40 / 30 / 30 balance of macronutrients allows the body to access its primary source of muscle energy, fatty acids, which are stored in adipose tissue (body fat). On a highhigh carbohydrate diet, this stored fat is not easily accessed, and the muscles instead use carbohydrates, an inferior fuel, as a source of energy. According to Dr. Philip Maffetone, applied kinesiologist and trainer /coach for professional athletes, fat provides over twice the energy of carbohydrates—nine calories per gram, as opposed to four calories per gram in carbohydrates. Dr. Maffetone believes that athletes are missing the boat with their high-carbohydrate intake: “The average U.S. athlete has a career span of four and a half years. … This is what happens when you rely on your sugar reserves, not fat reserves.
When Maffetone first began working with Mark Allen, the Iron Man Champion was running a 7- minute mile. Eleven years later he was doing 5:10-minute miles and doing them at a lower heart rate. During this period of time, the athlete actually became physiologically “younger,” according to Maffetone. Allen credits these remarkable results to the way he trains and the 40/30/30 eating plan.
The higher proportion of energy obtained from fat with the 40/30/30 balance of macronutrients results in the conservation of muscle glycogen that keeps blood-sugar levels elevated, improving the athlete’s concentration, focus, and endurance. The 40/30/30 diet can also help to:
- Decrease hunger
- Enhance cardiovascular endurance
- Improve memory and mental alertness
- Increase fat burning
- Increase lean body mass
- Reduce fatigue
Many of the beneficial effects are attributed to the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland that is stimulated by good (series-1) eicosanoids. Growth hormone builds and repairs muscle tissue.
Since the benefits of the 40/30/30 approach to macronutrient balance were initially determined through studies with athletes, the area of sports nutrition has been the first to make practical application of the principles. The Balance Bar Company has sponsored studies showing the efficacy of this approach to eating and they have developed a tasty nutrition bar appropriately named Balanced Formulated according to the 40/30/30 ratio of macronutrients, it is a definite contrast to most sports and energy bars that usually contain 75- to 90-percent carbohydrates. Balance bars can be used as a meal replacement, though they should not substitute for more than one meal a day. They also provide good appetite control—three to five hours for most people—and only 180 calories.
By now it should be clear that conditions of imbalance on both the chemical and energetic levels create fatigue, weight problems, and disease. Achieving hormonal balance by eating properly allows us to regain health and achieve our genetic weight. The 40/30/30 eating plan is designed to reestablish this balance and it will no doubt work wonders for many people—perhaps even the majority of those who try the plan Let us bear in mind, however, that studies demonstrating its efficacy were primarily conducted with athletes, so we may not be able to generalize the results to the general public. In truth, I believe that there really is no one diet that is best for all people.
While I’ve been pretty hard on the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet as a panacea for every man, I must admit that it may be therapeutic for some, at least in the short run. Just as a diet too heavy on carbohydrates can be deleterious to the health, so can one too high in proteins or too high in fats. Balance is the key. However, what puts one man in balance might throw another off because of biochemical individuality.
The Pritikin diet, which is very high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat and protein, has had its success stories. So has the Atkins diet, which is very low in complex carbohydrates, but high in protein These radically different diets both have had beneficial results—but not with the same people. So what are the factors that determine the type of diet best suited to our highly individual nutritional needs?
Your metabolic type is based upon your oxidation rate—the rate at which you turn your body’s fuel, food, into energy. In the 1970s Dr. George Watson, a psychologist, identified two types of oxidizers: fast and slow. I refer to them as fast and slow burners. What these two categories of people have in common is that neither uses energy efficiently.
The slow burner doesn’t process food quickly enough (due to underactive adrenals and thyroid), whereas it is speedily converted to energy in the fast burner (who has overactive adrenal and thyroid glands). The slow burner gravitates toward simple carbohydrates, sodas, and sugary foods for energy and tends to binge on starches. Generally, the appetite is poor and there is a dislike for protein-rich foods and fats.
The fast burner, on the other hand, will feel hyper, anxious, and irritable without sufficient fat and protein in the diet. A fast burn er’s appetite is generally strong, with a preference for heavy meats, and his emotional state is often characterized by peaks and valleys as energy levels fluctuate. While the slow burner tends toward poor circulation, low blood pressure, and dry skin, the fast burner is usually warm, perspires easily, and has high-normal to high blood pressure.
The slow burner does best on a diet emphasizing protein and, to a lesser extent, carbohydrates— although carbohydrates should not be consumed in excess. Protein can increase metabolism by 30 percent, while a pure carbohydrate meal increases it only 10 percent. Animal proteins of the lean variety (cod, tuna, eggs, and poultry) should be consumed as part of two meals each day. Purine-rich proteins, such as organ meats, are to be avoided and fat intake should be modest, as it will slow the metabolism further.
The fast burner will find a diet emphasizing fat and protein to be optimal. The heavier meats should be favored, and beef, lamb, venison, or cold-water fish should be eaten with every meal. These foods add substance and help balance out the highs and lows of the fast burner. Fats help slow down the overactive metabolism. Purine foods can be eaten freely. Both fast and slow burners should avoid processed carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, and crackers.
Not all people fall into these two categories. Some are normal or mid-range burners. They are generally able to maintain a desirable weight, due to their metabolic efficiency, whereas weight gain can be a problem for both the fast and slow burner. Eating in such a way as to restore metabolic balance helps to normalize weight and eliminate disease conditions.
These days, metabolic type can be determined through hair analysis. Questionnaires can also help a person determine his oxidation rate, as can increased awareness of the body and its response to food. The questionnaires beginning earlier will assist you in establishing your metabolic type and help in formulating a more personalized dietary plan Answer “yes” or “no” to each of the following questions.
|1. Are you somewhat laid hack and even-tempered?||□||□|
2. Does rod meat feel heavy in your system?
3. Do you approach problems one step at a time, rather than juggling many things at once?
|4. Can you skip breakfast without losing energy or getting hungry’?||□||□|
|5. Do sweet things like candy or fruit give you a quick pick-up?||□||□|
|6. Do you prefer a “light” meal of salad and pasta rather than a “heavier” one (if steak and potatoes?||□||□|
|7. Do you get thirsty often?||□||□|
|8. Do foods like cheese, butter, and avocados seem to make you feel sluggish?||□||□|
9. Does coffee start your morning off just right
10. Do you feel you need a pick-up from spices?
Do you particularly enjoy tangy condiments like mustard, ketchup, and salsa with your food?
1. Do you consider yourseH high-strung? Do you feel hyperactive?
2. Do you actually feel better eating a plate of chops rather than leaner meats like chicken?
|3. Do you enjoy a hearty high-protein breakfast, such as eggs and bacon?||□||□|
|4r Do you reach for salty snacks like nuts or potato chips when you’re stressed out?||□||□|
|5: Are avocado cheesy sauces, and full-fat dairy products very satisfying to you?||□||□|
|6. Do you feel better eating full meals every two to three hours?||□||□|
|7. When you eat sweet foods like cakes and cookies,, do you burn out quickly after a short energy burst? Q||□|
|8. Do you have a hearty appetite?||□||□|
|9. Does drinking coffee make you nervous?||□||□|
|10. Does a pat of butter on toast satisfy you more than jam?||□||□|
If you answered “yes” to eight or more questions in the slow-burner questionnaire, you are a classic slow burner type. If you answered “yes” to eight or more questions in the fast-burner questionnaire, you are a classic fast burner type.
Fast burners will do best on the 40/30/30 eating plan, while slow burners may feel better if they increase carbohydrates just a bit and lower the fats. If you fall somewhere between these two types, your current diet is probably serving you well.
Though the diet of humankind has undergone radical changes over the last forty thousand years, genetically, we have changed very little in that time. The climate of the land has always been the prime determinant of the foods available in it, and, over time, our ancestors adapted to changes in their environment and the diet it dictated. Those adaptations were genetically encoded in our lineage and, therefore, ethnic and genetic conditions persist regardless of how much people move around. Studies have demonstrated that the best diet for an individual is that of his or her native culture. Someone of American Indian heritage does best on a Native American diet of beans, squash, cactus, or buffalo, even if he moves to Japan. Changing locations does not change our genetic /nutritional needs.
Basically, we can think of our ancestral heritage in very broad terms, as indigenous to either northern or southern climates. The northern regions encompass Scandinavia, Canada, and northern and eastern Europe. These cultures adapted to diets high in cold-water fish, red meat, and root vegetables. The diets of people living in the southern regions featured light meat, fish, tropical fruit, beans, legumes, and light, water-based vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
Because of the “melting pot” nature of our culture, most Americans have a mixed genetic heritage.
Therefore, the genetic blueprint of our nutritional needs may not be that easy to decipher.
Different blood types are related to the movement of generations of people over the continents, and they appeared at different times in our evolutionary cycle. Type O is the oldest type on the planet, followed by type A, then type B, and, finally type AB. The oldest types (O and A) are the most common in our culture today, with 85 percent of Americans falling into one or the other of these two categories. The rarest type of blood, type AB, was the last to evolve. People with this blood type make up only 4 percent of our culture.
As blood types evolved, nutritional needs evolved along with them. For example, people with type O blood are adapted to a diet heavy in animal meat and fish, and don’t do well with dairy products or excessive consumption of grains. People with this blood type tend to lead an active lifestyle. Those people with type A blood also don’t handle dairy well, and shouldn’t overdo grains. However, these people are best suited to a semi-vegetarian diet (lean meat, poultry several times a week), and should not subsist on a diet that includes too many heavy meats. People with the third blood type to evolve, type B, can handle a wide variety of foods, including those from both the type O and type A diets, and can include dairy in moderation. And, finally, people with type AB blood are the only people fully adapted to dairy products. These people may have some type A characteristics, in that they have less tolerance for meat and animal products.
From this information, we can see that certain blood types would have a difficult time on a diet low in animal protein, while others would do much better on that type of diet. While most people in our culture have adapted to eating meat to some degree, few are able to handle dairy, according to blood type. It should be added that there are two subtypes of A, one better adapted to eating meat than the other.
The information on blood type and diet is fascinating, and research is ongoing in this country, thanks to the work of Dr. Laura Powers of Bethesda, Maryland. Japan is the home of the world’s foremost authority on blood types and personality, Toshitaka Nomi.
Start with your metabolic type. Once you know whether you are a fast or slow burner, you can modify your diet based upon blood type and ancestral heritage. If you do not have all of the information, work with the information you have. Use the 40/30/30 eating plan as a point of departure, regardless of other factors, and modify your diet according to what you know about ancestry, metabolic type, and blood type.
To obtain the full benefits of the 40 / 30 / 30 formula, you will need to follow it at every meal and at snack time as well. This is not a difficult task once you grasp the “how to” of applying the concept. These guidelines give sample meals, as well as tips to help you make your own balanced food selections.
The appeal of the 40/30/30 plan is that it avoids extremes of too much or too little in terms of macronutrient percentages. Diets that are extreme are appropriate for some individuals, and for these people, high percentages of macronutrients may be the answer to their dietary needs. But extreme diets should only be temporary diets. In the long run, they may push the individual past the point of balance into imbalance. And for those who are already out of balance, an extreme diet will push them further out of balance. This can be very damaging.
The Standard American Diet is approximately a 51/37/12 formula—51 percent refined carbohydrates, 37 percent saturated and “bad” fats, and only 12 percent protein. The protein content is inadequate in relation to the overabundance of fat and carbohydrates. For good health, you need to bring this into balance and switch to quality foods.
The stabilization of blood sugar that results from proper macronutrient balance helps control hunger and allows you to function optimally on less food (and therefore fewer calories) than you would normally consume. The advantages for weight control are obvious. There is also the potential benefit of increased longevity; animal studies have repeatedly correlated reduced food intake with increased life span When macronutrient consumption is balanced, reduced food intake does not correlate with hunger: Satiety is more readily achieved naturally.
LOSING FAT WITHOUT LOSING MUSCLE MASS
Men seem better able to handle a larger carbohydrate load than women, most likely because of they have greater muscle mass and fewer fat cells. However, the basic hormonal response to food is not gender-specific. Men are no less vulnerable to the problems resulting from carbohydrate overload. Some men will lose weight on a grain- or pasta-based dietary regimen—lots of weight. They often lose more weight than they need to—and with it, muscle mass—and they’re constantly hungry because they don’t metabolize the grain protein well, and don’t absorb enough nutrients from the food they eat. These men often overeat, prompted by constant hunger. Yet, the more they eat grains, beans, and vegetables, the thinner they get.
A diet devoid of meat, eggs, and dairy will result in a serious shortage of protein and essential minerals. You will sense that you are missing something, and because you are in a state of diminished nutrition, you will crave sweets. Giving in to these cravings will cause you to put on fat. This same cycle can be caused by diets that include some meat but are deficient in good oils.
Over the years, nutrition authorities and writers like Robert Atkins, M.D., John Yudkin, M.D., William Dufty, and Cass Ingram, M.D., have warned that sugar and starches (carbohydrates) can sabotage weight loss and set the stage for the development of degenerative diseases. The high- carbohydrate craze has bom witness to the wisdom of their warnings.
Following a balanced eating plan—appropriate to your biochemical individuality—will assist you in ridding the body of unwanted fat. I use the word “fat” instead of “weight” because the two do not necessarily correlate. In fact, muscle weighs two and a half times what fat weighs. One can lose inches and look trimmer while maintaining the same weight or even putting on pounds.
I strongly urge you to have your body fat measured before beginning the balanced eating plan, and then again after thirty to sixty days. This can be done by measuring skin-fold thickness on various parts of the body with calipers; through hydrostatic, or underwater, weighing; or through bioelectrical impedance, which measures the body’s resistance to a low-frequency alternating current.
How much fat you lose depends upon four variables:
1. The amount and type of carbohydrates you consume.
- Your present level of fitness.
- The amount of calories you take in.
- The amount of calories you expend.
Remember also that total calorie intake should decrease with the 40 / 30 / 30 eating plan as appetite decreases.
On the low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet, very little of the weight lost is fat, for the insulin response bars access to the body’s fat depots. On the other hand, eating a diet of balanced nutrient composition, adequate in protein, spares glycogen stored in muscles and the liver, and enables the body to bum fat, rather than to store it. Protein triggers the release of glucagon and drives the metabolism. With inadequate amounts, the body is hampered in its fat-burning ability.
Arnold, a thirty-four-year-old fitness buff, came to see me complaining that he could not lose weight even though he was working out daily and following what he believed was a healthy diet. Arnold believed in carbohydrates. After doing an extensive dietary assessment it was obvious that he also believed in the “more is better ” theory. Arnold s diet consisted of enormous amounts of carbohydrates—like dry cereal, bagels, pasta, potatoes, fat-free muffins, and pita bread—eaten morning, noon, night, and in-between. After I explained to him the value of the 40/30/30 formula for weight loss and peak performance, Arnold agreed to include lean protein like eggs, white fish, and skinless turkey at every meal, and to add some butter to his bread and flax oil to his baked potatoes. He also agreed to reduce his gargantuan portions of carbohydrates, and learned to choose his carbs from the lower end of the glycemic index. Within three weeks, Arnold was burning fat and losing inches.
George, a forty-two-year-old office manager, was also having difficulty losing weight when he came to see me. He too had been following the high- carbohydrate/low-fat diet, but did not often exercise. After initially losing some weight on this diet, he had begun to gain it back. He told me he felt lethargic and craved sugar constantly. He felt totally out of control when it came to his eating. His dietary assessment revealed a shortage of good protein and a total lack of good fats. George thought he was doing the wise thing by cutting back on meat and eggs and consuming margarine and the “no cholesterol” vegetable oils from his local grocery store. But his body was starving for protein and healthy fats that level blood sugar and help control sugar cravings. Once we added butter and olive oil back into his diet, upped his protein intake, and cut back on the carbs, George began to lose weight again. And now that he has more energy, he has started working out in the gym.
Men need a higher ratio of protein than that contained in the Standard American Diet. This increased protein need is due to a catabolic metabolism that is tilted toward tissue breakdown. During sex, men discharge large amounts of stored protein, carbohydrates, and minerals. Men also tend to lose weight with greater ease, because they operate at a higher metabolic rate to maintain a higher percentage of muscle mass.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The challenge for today’s man is not one of losing weight through dieting, but is instead an effort to achieve good health with proper nutrition. As with any extreme diet, the high-carbohydrate craze that has taken over the United States does not provide optimal nutrition Instead, it appears that the heavy intake of carbohydrates in the Standard American Diet causes more health problems than it remedies, including blood-sugar disorders such as hypoglycemia and diabetes, food sensitivities, and obesity— to name only a few. The best thing that any man can do, then, is to cut back on his carbohydrate intake, and increase his consumption of the right kinds of fats.
Evidence now points to several fats, falling under the categories of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, that are essential in maintaining health and preventing degenerative diseases. In fact, it’s believed that a number of disorders correlate with EFA deficiencies, including alcoholism, coronary artery disease, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals on extremely low-fat diets are prone to deficiencies of essential fatty acids, and are therefore more likely to develop these and other conditions. However, paying close attention to EFA intake, and including good sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can prevent or alleviate these problems.
The real key to regaining health and maintaining ideal weight lies in hormonal balance, which can be achieved with the right dietary ratio of macronutrients—carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Recent evidence has shown that the 40 / 30 / 30 balance of macronutrients is ideal for losing weight without compromising muscle mass. And while it cannot be claimed that any one diet is right for everyone, the 40/30/30 plan, with individual modifications based on metabolic type, ancestry, and blood type, can help stabilize blood sugar, decrease appetite, and increase fat burning.