Weight Loss Step 2: Education


Now that you are motivated to lose weight, education is the second step. The problem is that the internet and media are cluttered with nutritional advice from everyone and their mother. Diets claim that you need to eat certain foods in certain combinations at certain times for magical weight loss. Other diets tell you that these things don’t matter, but you need to cut out sugar or gluten or do a detox diet to fix your liver and your metabolism. I absolutely hate all of the terrible nutrition advice out there. Everyone that knows nothing about the science behind weight loss and nutrition seems to have an opinion because they lost weight once or watched a Youtube video. Or even worse, doctors teach nutrition in half-truths and partial understanding and their word is taken as fact. Weight loss has been commercialized to a ridiculous extent and ruined your ability to find good advice. Some lies about nutrition and weight loss have been repeated so many times that I’ve even met dietitians that believe them. It sucks. I’m sorry it has taken you this long to find scientifically based nutrition advice. The awesome part about the advice that I will provide is that it is flexible to you. If you want long-term results, then you need flexibility. Many people could write a weight loss diet, but I can teach you the principles of weight loss and healthy nutrition that will allow you to make the best and easiest changes for YOU.

Education about what matters.

If you haven’t read Weight Loss Step 1: Motivation, do that first.

It would be way too long to put all educational materials on one page (I might as well write a book!), so I’m going to post links to my suggested articles for people who want to lose weight.

Then, read these articles in this order:

1. The Truth about All Weight Loss Diets

2. The Energy Balance Equation and Using it to Your Advantage While Losing Weight

3. How Many Calories Do You Need?

4. How Much Protein Do You Need?

5. Does a High Protein Diet Really Ruin Your Kidneys?

6. Nutrient Density: A Huge Chunk of Healthy Weight Loss

7. Energy Density: Why Some Healthy Foods Aren’t Good Dieting Foods

Sorry if this article doesn’t really provide anything new for at this time and seems repetitive. This article is more for organization and ease of access in the futures. I also apologize that my list of articles is short and incomplete currently! I hope to begin to tie all of these points together within the next month so that you have a complete weight loss guide. Please be patient and keep checking back!

https://whatmattersnutrition.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/energy-density-why-some-healthy-foods-arent-good-dieting-foods/

Does a High Protein Diet Really Ruin Your Kidneys?


WARNING: Sciency Article.

Many popular diets are higher in protein and many people suggest eating more, but is it safe? You can read about the benefits of a high protein intake and my recommendations for protein intake here: How Much Protein Do You Need? But even with all these benefits, could there be some harm? Dietitians and doctors alike often claim that a high protein diet is bad for the kidneys and for a variety of other reasons. Some of these concerns are real and some have no real proof to support them. Below I will state some common health concerns with higher protein intake on health and comment on each:

Reason 1. Increased stress on kidneys because of increases in filtration rate.

This is probably the most common and significant concern that I hear about increasing protein intake. Higher protein diets in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease cause kidney function to decline at a faster rate than consuming less protein. Therefore, people think that high protein diets may cause healthy kidneys to decline in function. This belief comes from studies that prove that kidney filtration increases when you eat more protein. They think that the increased rate of filtration is bad for the kidney.

However, there is absolutely no evidence that higher protein intakes can cause people with healthy kidneys to develop Chronic Kidney Disease. None. Zero. High protein diet studies conducted for up to 6 months have not shown a decline in kidney function. The rate of kidney filtration increases during pregnancy and during removal of a kidney as an adaptation to compensate for the lost kidney just like it does when eating a higher protein diet. Pregnancy and kidney removal are not risk factors for developing Chronic Kidney Disease, so why should we just assume that high protein diets are a risk factor when there is no further evidence? Based on this evidence that increased kidney filtration rates do not necessarily cause a faster decline in kidney function and the lack of evidence behind high protein intake causing a decline in the function of healthy kidneys, the argument that high protein intakes are bad for healthy kidneys is unsubstantiated and purely speculative. More research is needed in this field (long-term studies comparing a high protein diet to a standard diet that observe kidney function).

See this study here.

Reason 2. Increased calcium excretion and negative effects on bone mineral density.

If you eat adequate calcium (RDA 1000-1200 mg), then protein actually has a positive effect on bone health and promotes higher bone mineral density. If eating too little calcium, high protein diets may have a negative effect on bone mineral density.

Reason 3. Decreased blood pH, leading to low grade metabolic acidosis.

Eating adequate fruits and vegetables neutralize the acid from the protein and negate this potential negative effect. Potassium to protein ratio is a better indicator for how diet alters acid-base balance in the body.

Reason 4. Increased risk for chronic disease like cancer and heart disease (mostly an accusation made towards increasing protein by eating more red and processed meats).

Epidemiological research (correlational rather than causational) shows that people that eat large amounts of red and processed meat get cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, more often even when variables like exercise, smoking, and other factors were controlled for. This increased rate of cancer is likely because of compounds that increase when red meat is cooked and nitrates that are added to processed meats. There are ways to decrease the harmful compounds in red meat that can be found here. Decreasing the harmful compounds in red meat can be summarized as marinade it, don’t burn it, be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables with it, and minimize the processed meats with added nitrates.

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting red meat to a total of 500 grams (1 lb 1 oz) of cooked red meat per week. Using the methods above to decrease the harmful compounds in these red meats likely gives you some wiggle room to eat a little more red meat than this recommendation without increasing your risk for cancer.

Summary

High protein diets are likely safe if eaten with plenty of fruits and vegetables to offset acidosis and adequate calcium (1000-1200 mg/day) to benefit bone health. Try to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables (1 servings = 1 cup raw vegetables or ½ cup cooked), 4 servings of fruit (1 serving=1/2 cup), and 3 servings of dairy (1 serving= 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1.5 oz hard cheese) when eating a high protein diet to negate potential negative effects on bone health and from metabolic acidosis.

What Matters in this Blog Post

1. High protein diets confer some benefits found here: How Much Protein Do You Need?

2. No proof exists that high protein diets are bad for healthy kidneys.

3. Protein improves bone health when enough calcium is consumed, but hurts bone health if not enough calcium is consumed.

4. Protein won’t cause acidosis if adequate fruits and vegetables are consumed.

5. Eat less than 500 g (1 lb 1 oz) of red meat per week. Avoid processed meats with added nitrates. Ways to decrease harmful compounds in red meat and possibly allow you to eat a little more red meat can be found here.

6. Eating more protein as a part of a balanced diet is very likely safe. There is no reason to assume otherwise.

How Much Protein Do You Need?


Ah, protein. You have probably heard that it’s important to health. However, some health enthusiasts suggest that you eat tons of protein (up to 2 g of protein per lb of body weight!) and some don’t emphasize protein at all, recommending a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. This gets confusing and you may not know what sources are reliable. So let’s get to the point – how much do I need.  The answer is: it depends. I will be writing out protein needs in grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example if you are 150 lbs and you need .54 g/lb of body weight per day, you can calculate that like this:

150 lb x .54 g/lb = 81 g of protein/day

Identify what category you fit in below and see your protein recommendation:

Healthy Weight Inactive Person: .36-45 g/lb

Healthy Weight Inactive Person with High Blood Pressure: .45- 54 g/lb (replace carbohydrates with protein)

Healthy Weight Athletes or Active People: .54-.82 g/lb

Health Weight Athletes or Active People Trying to Lose Weight: .68-1 g/lb

Inactive Obese People with BMI>30: .45-.68 g/lb of Ideal Body Weight – See bottom of the page to calculate Ideal Body Weight

Active Obese People with BMI>30: .54-.82 g/lb of Ideal Body Weight – See bottom of the page to calculate Ideal Body Weight

Elderly: .45-68 g/lb

Read the rest of this article to get the explanation for protein recommendations and benefits associated with eating more protein, and use this calculator to find out more precisely how much protein you should eat: Calories, Protein, and Fluid Needs Spreadsheet

The RDA

RDA stands for the Recommended Daily Allowance. The RDA for protein for adults is .8 g/kg (about .36 g/lb) of body weight. This is the minimum amount of protein that any healthy person should consume for an extended period of time. This isn’t very much and even vegetarians should not have trouble reaching this amount. The RDA is fine for normal weight, healthy adults that don’t exercise and these people can live healthy lives eating this much protein. However, this amount is not sufficient for many other populations. Many people can benefit from eating more than the RDA for protein in place of (saturated/trans) fats and carbohydrates.

Who Might Benefit from More Protein?

The short answer: most people.  I’m going to break them down into the following categories and explain the benefits that protein has for them: Healthy Weight People, Overweight People/Anyone Losing Weight, Highly Active Athletes/Weight Lifters, Elderly, People with Certain Chronic Diseases (I will not be getting in to this one)

Healthy Weight People that Aren’t Active (Including those with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol)

1. Helps with weight maintenance/body composition through improved satiety and higher thermogenic effect of food.

2. Improved bone mineral density if consumed with adequate calcium.

3. Improved blood pressure when substituted for carbohydrate in people that already have prehypertension or high blood pressure

4. Improved LDL Cholesterol and triglycerides when substituted for saturated fat (likely a greater effect in people that already have borderline-high or high Cholesterol)

How much: .36+ protein/lb of body weight, .45-.54 g/lb for the above benefits, max suggestion of .68 g/kg

Although the RDA may be all that they NEED, non-active healthy weight people not trying to change their weight may benefit in the ways above by eating more protein. People that want these benefits of more protein may want to eat closer to 1.0-1.2 g/kg (.45-54 g/lb of body weight). If one of your concerns is long term weight maintenance eating up to 1.5 g/kg (.68 g/lb) would not be ridiculous, but I wouldn’t recommend eating more than that for this population. I want to note protein isn’t the only thing that provides additional health benefits, so be sure to consider and balance this protein recommendation with healthy foods fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, healthy fats, ect. If a high protein intake interferes with getting other healthy foods, then scaling it down may be necessary.

Overweight People and ANYONE Losing Weight

1. Helps with weight loss through improved satiety and higher thermogenic effect of food.

2. Increases the retention of muscle/lean body mass while losing weight.

3. Metabolism will not decrease as much while losing weight.

4. Improved blood pressure while losing weight in obese patients and obese patients with diabetes.

5. Improved HDL:Total Cholesterol Ratio while losing weight in obese patients and obese patients with diabetes.

6. Improved bone mineral density if consumed with adequate calcium.

How much: .45-.68 protein/lb of body weight (if BMI>30 use ideal body weight in this calculation), more if you are an athelete/highly active.

Anyone trying to lose weight can benefit from a higher protein intake for all of these reasons. When we don’t eat all the energy that our body needs, it uses our fat and muscle as fuel (see The Truth about All Weight Loss Diets and The Energy Balance Equation and Using it to Your Advantage While Losing Weight). Eating more protein helps your body use less muscle and more fat as fuel. Protein intakes of 1.0-1.5 g/kg (.45-.68+ g/lb) have been shown to benefit this population. If your BMI>30, then you should calculate your protein needs based on ideal body weight rather than your actual body weight to get a more accurate amount. The higher end of this range would be better for anyone losing weight at a faster rate (arbitrarily >1.5lb per week) and/or leaner people trying to lose weight. If your BMI>30 and/or losing weight slowly, you might be ok with eating the lower end of that range (although the higher end of the range is still better). Very severe calorie deficits may require even more protein, but I would not recommend those types of diets in most cases (do a google search for protein sparing modified fast).

Highly Active Athletes and Weight Lifters

1. Helps with weight loss through improved satiety and higher thermogenic effect of food.

2. Increases the retention of muscle/lean body mass while losing weight.

3. Increases rate of muscle gain during weight maintenance/gain.

4. Improved bone mineral density if consumed with adequate calcium.

How much: .54-.82 protein/lb of body weight, .68-1 g/lb if losing weight

Athletes can benefit from a higher protein intake for all the above reasons. High physical activity levels are a stress on the body and the body needs more protein to repair itself. When losing weight, you will need even more protein. Athletes that want these benefits should eat .54-.82 g/lb. For athletes trying to lose weight, I recommend .68-1g/lb of body weight. Eat on the higher end of these ranges if you are really active and on the lower end if you are less active (think three 40 minute lifting sessions per week, no aerobics). When losing weight, the high end of this recommendation MAY benefit you if you are really lean (<12% bodyfat), very active, and/or losing weight at a fast rate (arbitrarily I will call this >1.5lbs/week).

This topic is debated because the majority of data seems to suggest that .82 g/lb of body weight may be the maximum amount for benefit. If you are gaining or maintaining weight, consuming more than .82 g/lb likely won’t give you any additional benefit. Eric Helms published this study suggesting that athletes losing weight may benefit from greater intakes and other studies have suggested that intakes up to 1.4 g/lb are likely safe and may provide additional benefits not detected in previous studies. However, increasing protein may require and athlete to eat fewer carbohydrates which may negatively affect resistance training/weight lifting performance. If an athlete doesn’t perform as well in the weight room, it may translate in to less muscle retention while losing weight. For this reason, I suggest 1 g/lb of body weight as the maximum for athletes losing weight.

Elderly

1. Higher protein intakes in the elderly can help to offset some of the muscle wasting associated with aging.

2. Improved bone health if consumed with adequate calcium.

3. Improved blood pressure when substituted for carbohydrate in people that already have prehypertension or high blood pressure.

4. Improved LDL Cholesterol and triglycerides when substituted for saturated fat (likely a greater effect in people that already have borderline-high or high Cholesterol).

How much: .45-.68 g protein/lb of body weight (use ideal body weight if BMI>30)

The elderly may benefit from higher protein intake for the above reasons. Bone and muscle health are especially important in the elderly. High blood pressure and cholesterol are also common problems in this population. Elderly people should try to eat .45-.68 g protein./lb

Equation for Ideal Body Weight

Men: 106 + (inches taller than 5′ x 6)= IBW

Women: 100 + (inches taller than 5′ x 5) = IBW

Is It Safe to Eat More Protein?

The short answer is that yes, it is very likely safe and healthy. If you have concerns with safety, please read Does a High Protein Diet Really Ruin Your Kidneys?

protein

Courtesy of TERBOIMAGING

What Matters in this Blog Post

1. RDA (.36 g/lb) is the minimum amount protein that people should eat. More is beneficial for many people.

2. Healthy Weight People: eat .45-.54 g protein/lb body weight  for benefits.

3. People Losing Weight: eat .45-.68g protein/lb body weight for benefits.  The higher end of this is amount is better for most. Use Ideal Body weight if BMI>30.

4. Athletes: eat .54-.82 g protein/lb body weight for benefits. Eat .68-1 g protein/lb if trying to lose weight.

5. Elderly: eat .45-.68 g protein/lb body weight for benefits.

6. Eating more protein as a part of a balanced diet very likely safe. There is no reason to assume otherwise.

7. Use my calculator: Calories, Protein, and Fluid Needs Spreadsheet