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THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT FAT
New Nutrition Plan Has Huge Implications for Every Athlete and every Coach at Every Level
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1997
I had a physical last August. The doctor wanted to put me on drugs to lower my 245 cholesterol count. My HDL cholesterol was too low and the LDL count was too high. To make matters worse, my triglyceride count of 205 was quite high. A relatively new way to measure heart risk is to divide the triglycerides by the HDL count. Mine put me at a risk with a 5.9 ratio. It should be under 5.0 but under 3.0 is preferable.
I wanted to try to improve by diet rather than to take the doctor’s drugs. He handed me a diet to follow. I studied it carefully and here is what it recommended: Avoid animal fats, meat and sweets. Control the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Hmm . . . let’s see now, meat means protein, eat low fat and control my carbohydrates. What’s left? Water.
After I discarded that diet, I read Dr. Dean Ornish’s book called “Reversing Heart Disease.” He states, “Only a diet almost entirely free of animal fat, oil and cholesterol will significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.” However, he admits that a vegetarian diet would lower my HDL, thus adversely effecting my triglyceride ratio. Ornish’s diet consists primarily of complex carbohydrates, also known as starches. (75% carbohydrates, 10% fat, 15% protein). Was I to be relegated to a life of celery and broccoli? I broke out into a cold sweat just thinking about it.
While worrying about my situation, I was channel surfing and came across the “Protein Power” infomercial by Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades. Normally, infomercials make me gag but I began to watch carefully. Then, something clicked. It wasn’t any thing they said but I just realized an important correlation.
Which of these three food groups: Proteins, Carbohydrates and fats does a 25-year old bodybuilder concentrate on eating? Protein! He eats protein to increase lean muscle mass and decrease his body fat percentage. Now, just because you get older, why should this change so dramatically? I’d like to lose some body fat and increase lean muscle mass. So why should I now concentrate on carbohydrates? It was like a light being turned on. I ordered the “Protein Power Plan.” Maybe I could learn something to help myself and to help the ever increasing number of over-fat athletes.
University of Florida strength coach, Jerry Schmidt says, “Nutrition is the final piece of the puzzle.” I listened to the protein power audio tapes over and over. Their message finally began to sink in. The Phase One part of the diet said to restrict my carbohydrates to 40 grams per day, eat fat in moderation and get adequate protein, which for me, meant about 100 grams per day.
The tapes with Eades doctors promised emphatically that my cholesterol and triglycerides would drop dramatically. They further promised that I would lose fat and have a reduction of my blood pressure. The whole process of this improvement would only take a month.
I became a great label reader. To keep your carbohydrates to only 40 grams per day is a challenge. You can’t really eat corn or potatoes. Drinks like Slim-fast are loaded with carbs. My breakfasts consisted of eggs, ham, low fat cottage cheese and water. I concentrated on eating meat, fish, chicken, cheese and cottage cheese for protein. I didn’t pay much attention to fat and had to continually avoid foods higher in carbohydrates. I drank water for every meal.
Eating out was fun and challenging. In the airport, I had turkey deli sandwiches and threw away the bread. For snacks, I ate beef jerky which has 14 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of carbohydrates per ounce. Compare that to an ounce of potato chips: 2 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and a whopping 14 grams of carbohydrates. I also found that low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat meat has more protein and less carbohydrates than no-fat products.
As I ended my 28-days on the “Protein Power Plan,” I was amazed. I had no desire for chocolate which had previously been a big problem. I had no desire for sweets or cookies. Something had definitely changed. I entered the medical center with confidence. I had already lost 15 pounds of fat and improved my two-mile jog time along with significant improvement in muscular endurance.
The doctor first took my blood pressure which was a nice low 100/58 score. He talked to me again about the need to be on drugs. I felt we should wait for the blood test results. Two days later my doctor gave me the astonishing news which was a new record for the most dramatic turn-around in the history of the clinic. The doctor had never seen anything like it.
My cholesterol dropped from 245 to 177 with an HDL reading of 38 up from 35 which is good. My bad cholesterol or LDL lowered from 169 to 125. My triglycerides (the fat molecules in the blood) had sunk to an amazing 71 down from a 205 reading. This meant my triglyceride - HDL ration was now at a very safe 1.9 ratio. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
My doctor, strangely, still wanted to put me on drugs because he believed I couldn’t stay on my diet. He apparently thought I was on his low fat-low carbohydrate-no protein diet. I said, “Doc, you know what I had for breakfast? Three eggs, sausage and bacon. I think I can stay with that.” His only reply was that he sensed some resistance to my going on drugs. He never asked how I set this dramatic record at his clinic.
The rest of this article contains many of the things I learned from the Eades doctors: We are eating much less fat than 20 years ago but obesity has jumped 30% in the last decade. Type II diabetes has tripled in this same time period. Strokes and coronary heart disease are also rising. Fat is not the problem but most people think it is. We have replaced fat with carbohydrates which is really starch and sugar. We as a nation, have adopted the USDA food pyramid which means a high carbohydrate-low fat diet. However, it should seem obvious, this high complex carbohydrate-low fat diet plan has failed.
Food is composed of three macro nutrients which we have discussed: Carbohydrates, protein and fat. Meats are mostly protein and fat while plants are mostly carbohydrates. It is very difficult to cut out one macro nutrient. The reasonable position in the past has been to eat less meat, eggs and dairy products and replace those with grains, fruits, vegetables and fat-free snacks. Americans have cut back on protein in order to eliminate fats.
The bad news is that eating more carbohydrates stimulates your body to store more fat, so many people get more fat. Carbohydrates can stimulate profound metabolic hormonal changes. Surprisingly, dietary fat doesn’t do much to make you fat.
Eating carbohydrates, even those non-fat foods with carbohydrates, causes a rapid increase in the hormone called insulin and decrease in its opposing hormone called glucagon. Even complex carbohydrates stimulate this same kind of a response.
All carbohydrates are basically sugar. Starches are made up of sugar molecules. All carbohydrates are converted sugar. If you were on a 2,200 calorie per day diet and followed the USDA food pyramid of 60% carbohydrates, your body would have to contend metabolically with two cups of sugar per day. Low fat/high carbohydrate people who do lose weight will also lose muscle. The high protein/lower carbohydrate people will lose weight more easily and quickly usually with no or little loss of muscle.
Insulin is released by your pancreas. Elevated insulin levels can cause monster health problems. Insulin’s main job is to regulate blood sugar levels and it should be considered as the master hormone for all metabolism and it influences every cell in the body. When there is excess insulin produced, it creates havoc on the body which can cause all kinds of medical disorders.
People think that cholesterol is all bad but if we don’t get enough cholesterol, our body will make it because its critically important to human health. Normally, 20% of your body’s cholesterol comes from diet while the other 80% is produced by your own body, mostly by your liver. Insulin disrupts production of healthy cholesterol.
Therefore, diet can only control 20% of your cholesterol but if you regulate your insulin, you can control the 80% produced by your body.
People respond to elevated insulin levels differently. Some people deal with it effectively and experience no adverse effects. However, 75% of our nation’s adult population cannot deal effectively with elevated insulin levels. More teenagers than ever before are also having difficulties. This state or condition is known as Hyperinsulinemia which can be described as an excessive level of insulin in the blood.
To deal with the effects of Hyperinsulinemia which could be high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or high triglycerides, many doctors prescribe drugs which affect the ability of the liver to produce cholesterol. However, many times this creates other health problems. The good news is that the “Protein Power” nutrition plan can control the body’s insulin production without the use of drugs.
Genetics play a big factor in the way insulin can adversely affect your system. One individual could have diabetes, another heart problems, sleep apnea or even gout. About 74% of Americans are over-fat so it looks like there is a connection with the 75% of adults who have Hyperinsulinemia to one degree or another.
When we eat, too much carbohydrates our insulin level goes up and it drives sugar and fat into the fat cells to be stored. Insulin’s job is to also prevent the stored fat from leaving the fat cell.
are little balloon-like cell structures whose job is to store calories in the form of fat. These little cells can get smaller or bigger but if more goes in than comes out, you will have fat problems. Obesity is simply the accumulation of too much excess body fat. Obesity causes the fat cells to store more fat.
Glucagon is also made in the pancreas. It is the counter-regulatory hormone. Glucagon works the opposite of insulin in virtually every way.
Glucagon retrieves fat out of the fat cells for energy and at the same time it blocks entry of fat into the fat cells. Normally there is a balance between the rising and falling of insulin and glucagon. However, if you have elevated insulin levels you will be continually storing fat because glucagon cannot do its job. Therefore, people with Hyperinsulinemia continually store and accumulate fat. The right food can keep insulin from rising and thus allow glucagon to do its job.
FOR THE COACH
The implications of the “Protein Power” plan are enormous for any coach at any level. You, in a very real sense, can now become a nutritional guru of sorts. You can wisely counsel your athletes, students and community. You can help yourself if your are one of the 75% who have Hyperinsulinemia. You can have safe levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. You can lose fat and inches while maintaining or increasing your lean muscle tissue. And, you can now do this on a diet you can not only live with but enjoy.
You will have to do a paradigm shift in thinking. For example, you may have said things, like I have, “It’s not the potato, it is all the butter and sour cream.” That statement is incorrect. Actually it is the potato that is bad not the butter.
Early in my “Power Protein” nutrition plan my wife and mother-in-law thought I had lost my mind. They knew I had high cholesterol and here I was fixing ham and three eggs.
I am now on the Phase II program which allows for 60 grams of carbohydrate rather than the Phase I level of 40 grams per day. I can’t go have a double cheeseburger with fries and a coke but I can have the meat, and cheese with possibly half the bun along with water, colorful vegetables, greens and certain fruits for the beneficial vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals they contain. You can also be a vegetarian and still do this program. Although, you’d have to eat a lot of Tofu.
People ask me if this nutrition plan is like “The Zone.” Barry Sears is the creator of “The Zone” and he has worked with elite athletes who used a higher carbohydrate intake. However, if you have any problems associated with Hyperinsulinemia, the “Protein Power” nutritional plan would be significantly better in reversing these problems.
Also, the Eades doctors say that athletes who carbo-load for endurance will actually do better after a week or two on their “Protein Power Plan.”
In addition, the Eades’ maintain that their high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet will not adversely affect your kidneys as long as you start out with normal kidney function.
I would recommend you write for information on how you can get the “Protein Power” tapes and program. The address: Drs. Eades, Colorado Center for Metabolic Medicine, 7490 Clubhouse Rd. Suite 103, Boulder, CO 80301.
THE NITTY GRITTY
You will have to be very smart and on guard all the time to be successful on this nutrition plan. Think of proteins and fats as time bombs that can blast away fat, triglycerides and cholesterol problems. But, supreme caution, red-alert! Carbohydrates can trigger these same time bombs to make you fat and create some serious health problems.
Here is what I mean; lets say you eat three eggs and some ham for breakfast, the protein-fat time bombs will work for you. However, if you add orange juice and toast (carbohydrates), these same time bombs will blow up in your face. Listen carefully, if you add carbohydrates to some fat intake, insulin will take that fat right to the fat cells and keep it there. If you don’t add the carbohydrates, glucagon will ignore the fat you’ve just eaten and go get your stored fat.
The Fat You Eat Will Only Turn Lethal If You Add Carbohydrates
Lets examine a typical dinner; a meat of some kind, and a tossed green salad. No problem, but, if you add a potato or fries, you are in trouble. The high carbohydrate content of the potato creates a release of insulin which sets off the fat time bomb which was in the meat. Leave the potato alone! If you say, “well, I used only low-fat margarine on my potato,” you just flunked. Begin reading this article again from the beginning. Instead of the potato, I like to have low-fat cottage cheese, olives and even some hard cheese.
Let us now take a fast food favorite; double cheeseburger, fries and a coke and super size it. The fries, coke and bun make the fat in the meat and cheese race to your fat cells. Drink water not coke. Have another double cheeseburger instead of the fries. Finally, throw away at least half the buns. Eat. Enjoy. Let glucagon go suck out the fat in your fat cells.
Finally, last month I went to a steak fry party. I had a steak and some halibut with my tossed salad. Everyone else had, in addition, a huge baked potato, potato salad, cookies and a dessert. Their insulin levels rose like a rocket. Mine did not. I looked around with nothing to do while people were finishing their potatoes and eating the desserts so I went over and got another steak.
You are probably laughing. Obviously, most would think that I was crazy but now you know that I’m crazy like a fox.
Good luck! Write and let me know about your success on the “Protein Power Plan.”
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE ATHLETE
Let’s face it. If you have a tendency to be over-fat as a teenager, it won’t get any easier as you get older. Believe me, it gets tougher. Now is the time to change your habits. Now is the time to eat correctly. You, not your parents, will be mostly responsible for the success of this change.
A lean, muscular athlete will perform better than an over-fat athlete if all other conditions are equal. You will run faster, jump higher and have more agility if you are not over-fat. The beauty of this nutrition plan (never call it a diet) is that you can gain significant strength while you are losing fat. Diets where you count calories and are eating mostly carbohydrates will usually make you weaker as you lose weight. This happens because you will also lose lean muscle tissue which is bad for an athlete.
Wrestlers should benefit enormously from the “Protein Power Plan.” Too many wrestlers starve themselves on a low calorie/high carbohydrate diet. This is incredibly bad. The “Protein Power Plan” should keep you healthy and strong throughout the season while losing unwanted fat. Just think about it. Your competition probably will continue to do stupid dietary things. This will give you a chance to beat an older, more talented and/or more experienced opponent.
A STEP-BY-STEP PLAN
I thought it might be helpful to give a step-by-step graduated plan. Some of you may wish to jump right in like I did and do everything. Others may wish to try Step One and see how that goes and then move to Step Two, etc.
STEP ONE: Drink water for every meal and during the day. You should drink 64 ounces. You may wish to drink something else but it should have no carbohydrates. Soda Pop should be completely out, although a limited number of diet sodas are permissible.
Rick Huegli, the University of Washington Strength Coach, says, ‘We could and should do more about nutrition but one thing I have done is to require every football player to bring a bottle of water with them to workout. Water is the best and easiest change an athlete can make in his nutrition.”
STEP TWO: If you eat anything after 7:00 p.m., eat low-carbohydrate food. You might try beef jerky. It is important to let glucagon do its thing for as long as possible.
STEP THREE: Replace potatoes and corn with cottage cheese, cheese and/or an extra salad. One potato has 33 grams of carbohydrates and only 4 grams of protein while one serving of low fat-cottage cheese has 13 grams of protein and only 6 grams of carbohydrates. This difference is significant in lowering insulin and raising your glucagon level.
STEP FOUR: Eat breakfasts with a minimum of 40 grams of protein and a maximum of 10 grams of carbohydrates with water to drink. For example, you might eat three eggs (carbs 3, fats 15, proteins 21) two slices of ham (carbs 0, fats 4, protein 18) and one serving of cottage cheese (carbs 6, fats 2, protein 13) This would give you a total of 9 grams of carbs, 21 grams of fat and 52 grams of protein.
Contrast this with one bowl of shredded wheat, one cup of non-fat milk and one glass of orange juice. This breakfast has a total of 82 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fat and 15 grams of protein.
Ninety-nine point nine percent of the population would think the shredded wheat breakfast would be vastly superior in losing fat and lowering cholesterol. However, because the insulin level is raised, that 1 gram of fat in the shredded wheat breakfast will be taken to the fat cells and kept there. Then, during lunch, you’ll add some more.
Even though there is 21 grams of fat in the ham and eggs breakfast, the glucagon will keep this fat from entering the fat cells and even take fat out while you are waiting for lunch.
STEP FIVE: Start the Phase One Power Protein Nutrition Program. Have a minimum of 100 grams of protein per day (A little less if you weigh less than 150 pounds or if you are a woman.) Eat a maximum of 40 grams of carbohydrates.
The Eades doctors
recommend you also take a good daily vitamin supplement and (4) 99 mg tablets of potassium each day to help deal with any fluid loss. It is recommended that if you are taking any prescription medications (especially for high blood pressure) you must consult your physician or pharmacist before you begin taking potassium supplements.
STEP SIX: Start the Phase Two program after about one month. At this point, you can increase your carbohydrates to 60 grams per day.
REMEMBER: You never count calories! Only grams of carbohydrates and protein.
WHAT ABOUT EXERCISE? Athletes and coaches should do as much of the Total BFS Program as possible.
It is now mid-October 1997 and I’ve now been on this nutrition plan for seven weeks. I’ve lost 25 pounds of fat. I say fat because my strength and muscular endurance have increased. Because of time constraints, I limited my strength workouts to 15-minutes, two to three times per week. I challenged myself to do as many pushups and situps as possible in exactly 15 minutes. I do a set of pushups then some situps and alternate them as my stamina permits. I was already in decent strength shape for 55 years of age. Seven weeks ago I could do 165 pushups and 100 situps. I was sweating like a pig and aching after this 15-minute period. Now I can do 275 pushups and 225 situps with very little perspiration in the same 15-minutes. I probably am using the energy from my fat cells.
I have also taken 3-inches off my waist and I had another blood test done by a separate agency 15 days after I set the record at the medical clinic. My triglycerides went down another four points and my cholesterol also dropped.
I did a clinic last September in Ticonderoga, New York and Coach Paul Joubert started this nutrition plan. Paul lost 15 pounds of fat in five weeks and lost substantially around his waist. The kids asked, “Coach, have you been working out?” This is interesting. Paul was coaching football and could not train but because he was feeding his muscles protein, he looked strong. This generally does not happen on people who lose weight on low fat-high carbohydrate diets.
J.L. Coon who manages our Upper Limit stores decided to try it. He lost 10 pounds of fat in two weeks, two inches off his waist and one-inch off his neck.
The few people I’ve had try this have all been successful at this point. They all say the plan is easy to follow. If you decide to try this nutritional plan, please let me know how you and/or your athletes did. Thanks!
A bunch of fries and a 32-oz cola can add over 200 grams of carbohydrates just to one meal. Insulin levels will sky-rocket making the fat in the meat and cheese lethal
Protiens & Fats
Water is the best and easiest change an athlete can make in his nutrition