“The Protein Power Diet” is the first of several books written by a husband-wife team of doctors, Mary Dan and Michael R. Eades. Published in 1996, the book makes a lofty promise to its readers: “You will feel fit and boost your health in just weeks” by considerably restricting consumption of almost any carbohydrate, including certain fruits and vegetables.
The Premise: The Protein Power diet is similar to the Atkins diet in that it is based upon the fundamental belief that our bodies are incapable of handling the kinds of refined carbohydrates and sugars that have made their way into modern-day diets. The types of carbohydrates we eat (grains, starches, sugars) are quickly converted to glucose in our bloodstreams for fast energy when insulin is released. There is usually excess glucose, however, which causes the release of additional insulin in order to convert it to fat for storage.
Over time, this can cause health problems, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. “Protein Power” theorizes that if we adopt the diet of our early ancestors (who ate mostly animal proteins, nuts, and some wild fruits and vegetables), our health problems will go away. By radically reducing carbohydrates, we can regulate insulin and blood sugar. Our bodies will be forced to use fat for energy instead of storage, thereby causing drastic weight loss.
The Diet: There are three distinct phases in this diet.
Phase I, the “Intervention” phase, starts with reduction of carbohydrate intake down to about 30 grams per day, depending on your height, weight, body fat percentage, and activity level. Fat consumption is unlimited because, according to the authors, it is “metabolically neutral.” That said, steak and egg eaters will love this plan. They can eat any and all meats, poultry, and fish. Eggs, cheeses, and dairy such as milk and cream are also allowed, as long as they have no carbohydrates. All grains should be avoided, meaning legumes, starchy vegetables (i.e., squash and potatoes), and any and all starches, syrups and refined sugars. Most vegetables (except for starchy ones) are allowed, as they are high in fiber. Berries, melons, and peaches are recommended, as well as nuts and seeds. Grain alcohols, light beers, and some wines are allowed, but all must be monitored for carbs.
Phase II, the “Transition” phase, allows dieters to increase carbohydrate consumption to 50 grams per day. Upon reaching their weight loss goals, dieters enter into Phase III, the “Maintenance” phase, which allows for somewhere between 70-130 grams of carbs per day (the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for carbohydrates is closer to about 250-300 grams).
What to get excited over: As mentioned before, steak, egg, and cheese eaters will love this diet plan. For example, a typical breakfast would include 1/2 a grapefruit, 2 eggs, 3 sausages, and coffee with whipped cream. Also, hearty snacks are allowed, such as celery with 2 tbsp. peanut butter, 2 macadamia nuts, and 1 oz. hard cheese with pepperoni slices.
Things to Consider: This diet has few, if any, redeeming qualities. Many people do lose a lot of weight initially, but as with any drastic diet, most people who lose quickly also put weight back on quickly once they get down to their goal weights.
Verdict: Not recommended! This diet does not offer a reasonable long-term eating plan and is ridiculously high in saturated fats. Eating things such as a sirloin steak for dinner and hard cheese with pepperoni slices for a snack is not a realistic way to eat over an extended amount of time. Followers of this plan will eventually have to learn slow and steady weight loss techniques. The diet also fails to mention that the essential nutrient that sustains our brain (the control center of our bodies) is glucose. I don’t know about you, but I am of the opinion that one should not deprive her brain of essential nutrients. That’s something to mull over.