Protein Power Lifeplan

I have just finished reading The Protein Power Lifeplan by Drs Michael & Mary Dan Eades. This book builds on the Paleolithic diet they recommended in the well-known book, Protein Power. This later book incorporates other lifestyle elements into the plan, updates the diet to include some new information, and explains a lot of the science behind their theories.

I was expecting the book to be pretty similar to a lot of other books promoting low carb diets, but I was pleasantly surprised. It also includes a lot of nutritional information which was new to me, all explained in an easy to understand way. Some of the topics covered are :

  • Why we are still like our Paleolithic ancestors, and why many aspects of their lifestyle are still most suitable for modern man.

  • Latest findings on the Paleolithic diet and lifestyle – it actually consisted of 65% animal protein and 35% plant life, not round the other way as previously thought.

  • A likely reason why our ancestors switched to farming and eating grains – grains contain a natural opiate, and are addictive. This made them seem a desirable food, even though health and life expectancy declined after they were farmed and eaten more regularly.

  • How a high carb diet is implicated in insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.

  • Why a low carb diet will stop weight gain, but may not result in much weight loss if total calorie intake is still too high (something not all high protein diet books tell you).

  • Why the glycemic index is better in theory than in practice.

  • Why we don’t need mega doses of Vit C if we get enough other nutrients; and which anti-oxidants we should take.

  • Why too much iron is even more dangerous than too little, and what to do about it.

  • The connections between Leaky Gut syndrome, autoimmune disease and eating grains.

  • Tips and pointers for incorporating the dietary changes.

  • While not supporting vegetarianism for health reasons, they list the necessary supplements for those choosing that lifestyle for ideological reasons.

There are three levels of the dietary part of the plan, depending on your level of commitment and the health changes you want to make :

  • Hedonist – “starter” level with the changes that will give the most benefit with the least effort. No trans fats, potentially rancid fats, soft drinks, diet soft drinks or aspartame.

  • Dilettante – a “middle of the road” approach for those who are prepared to make a few more changes without being quite as restrictive as the Purist. As above, plus no wheat, corn, millet, rye, soy oil, fructose, corn syrup, nitrites or MSG. Try to buy organic & free range as much as possible.

  • Purist – the optimum diet for health and wellbeing – the modern equivalent of a Paleolithic diet. This avoids all grains, legumes, dairy (except micro-filtered whey protein), processed foods, sugars (except honey) and artifical sweeteners, caffeine and alcohol. All food ahould be organic and free range.

Whichever level you choose, there are 3 stages of the plan. Your carbohydrate levels will be restricted, which will further limit your carb choices:

  • Intervention – 7-10 g per meal & optional snack = < 40g per day. Stay at this level till any insulin-resistance symptoms have settled (or 1-2 weeks, if you don’t have any blood pressure, blood sugar or blood lipid problems). When you’ve acheived your health objectives, or are close to your reduced weight objective, move on to :

  • Transition – 15g per meal & optional snack = < 60g per day. Stay here for a week or so, then move into:

  • Maintenance – each week, increase by 5g per meal (20g per day) till reach equilibrium. This MAY be approx equal to your mimimum protein requirement (but not your total protein intake, if that is higher). Stay at this level for life – or as long as you want to have good health!

Other lifestyle aspects covered include :

  • The right kind of exercise
  • Keeping your brain active
  • The importance of sunshine
  • Rest and relaxation

I highly recommend this book on Paleolithic style diet and lifestyle. I found this to be a fascinating book, crammed full of vital nutritional information. I particularly liked the 3 levels which allow you to pick your level of commitment and work your way up, or swap between them as it suits you.

Points to consider before starting the plan :

  • They suggest microwaving certain recipes for convenience. I’ve been down that road a lot myself in the past, but have now become aware of the many dangers of microwaving. I would not recommend microwaving food EVER now. With a little forward planning, you’ll find that you can still prepare foods quickly without it eg. by popping that leftover quiche in the warmer drawer of the oven before you get in the shower.
  • Soy is among the protein sources recommended. A small amount of fermented soy (eg. tempeh, miso) is probably fine, but not the amounts that some people recommend, specially for men and children.
  • Like most diet books, there is little discussion about differences in metabolic type. While this is an excellent plan for those people who need a low carb diet, there are people who need a higher level of carbohydrate and cannot tolerate as much protein and fat. As always, you must monitor your own response to any new diet. If you feel unwell after a settling in period, you may be one of the people who need to consider an Agriculturist type of diet.
  • There is little mention of allergies/addictions other than grain/legumes. While they are beyond the scope of a book of this time, you should remember that if you don’t get the results you want from this plan, you may have other food addictions and may want to run an Elimination diet.

All in all, one of my favourite low carb books.