Posted by: jinx | 2004/02/06


Hi Doc,

I have started going to the gym (do have a personal trainer) 3 times a week and so far, I can feel the results, that I am getting firmer. However, I am a high protein diet and not faring very well, as I am not a huge meat eater. What is the best diet with exercise - currently I am doing a whole body make over. I am not too concerned about weight loss - my main concern is to loose cm's and firm up all the wobbly bits. Please help!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Jinx
The idea that you will build muscles by eating a very-high-protein diet is not based on scientific fact. People who do strenuous exercise and even body builders do not really need more than about 1-1,5g of protein per kg body weight. So if you weigh 50 kg, then you don't really need more than 75 g of protein a day - easily supplied by one 60g portion of meat or fish or an egg or cheese or milk and yoghurt or legumes (soya, beans, peas or lentils or vegetable protein). What you do need is plenty of carbs to provide you with the energy you need to sustain all that exercise. You can certainly increase your carbohydrate intake concentrating on carbs with a low Glycaemic Index (GI), because carbs are the best fuel for intensive exercise and they have a 'protein-sparing' effect. (Click on 'Diet' and 'Weight loss' and 'The right Approach' and read the articles on the GI).
Keep up the good work

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Our users say:
Posted by: NATSIE | 2004/02/25


Reply to NATSIE
Posted by: Nutrition Nut | 2004/02/09

By the way, 60 grams of chicken, fish or beef does NOT equal 60 grams of protein. That's why eating meat to get enough protein can be intimidating.

Fish is surprisingly low in protein, but it does have beneficial fatty acids.

Reply to Nutrition Nut
Posted by: Nutrition Nut | 2004/02/09

I agree. Eating a very high protein diet will not cause you to build muscles.

The protein sparing effect of carbs is fine if you are not trying to lose body fat. High carbs and losing body fat are mutully exclusive.

The reason for getting a higher than usual amount of protein when you're training is that exercising your muscles to exhaustion causes micro-tears in the muscle fibre. In order to repair the muscle tissue, and in the process, to grow more muscle mass, you need to have sufficient amino acids in your body.

If you don't up your protein intake, it takes longer to recover from a weight training session. Competitive body builders will take a high protein, moderate carb supplement when in training because that's the quickest way to build muscle. But they drop the carbs when they want to lose body fat. Somewhere along the way, competitive bodybuilders have figured out that Glucosis and Lipolysis are opposites.

Notice that the amount that DietDoc recommended for a person in training is a LOT higher than the figure recommended in the Food Pyramid (feedlot pyramid is more accurate).

If you are exercising vigorously on a low-kilojoule diet, you will actually LOSE muscle mass, because your body will self-cannabalise your muscle mass to get enough energy to survive, unless you take more protein. To meet your energy needs in the short-term your body burns fuels in the order alcohol, glucose, glycogen, protein and fats.

To keep burning body fat, you have to kick your metabolism over to Lipolysis, and that means you have to lower your carb intake. It seems simple enough to me; I don't know why people have such difficulty understanding this concept.

If you are using a low-carb diet to balance your insulin levels and to lose fat, then taking carbs is counter-productive. If you body is in lypolysis/ketosis then you will be converting body fat to ketone bodies to use as fuel. That is how it works. You are either in Lypolysis (burning fat) OR in Glucosis (burning glucose). They are both perfectly natural states for your body to be in, and neither is harmful to you (unless you have a rare metabolic disorder). It's just silly to take more carbs than your personal critical maximum for sustaining weight loss and move out of Lypolysis when you want to lose body fat.

It's necessary to take a greater amount of protein when you're active than when you're sedentary just to MAINTAIN your muscle mass, never mind build more muscle, but you don't build muscle mass sitting at your computer. For that, you have to go to the gym! Likewise, when you're burning body fat by being in Lipolysis (or if you're on a kilojoule restricted diet), you must get enough protein to at least maintain your muscle mass. All the low-carb diets that I've seen recommend that you also start exercising so that you can build muscle mass, and hence increase your base metabolic rate.

It has been pointed out that carbs, fats and proteins are ALL sources of energy for the human body. It's also widely claimed that a kilojoule is a kilojoule no matter where it comes from. Theoretically that sounds ok, but in practice, your body doesn't think so.

There have been studies to determine whether a diet consisting of 90% carbs, or 90% protein, or 90% fats is most effective for weight loss. Interestingly, protein is, in that case, better than carbs, and fats turned out to be the best fuel of all for weight loss. That should freak out the low fat brigade!

And, by the way, an excess of protein in your diet will not harm you, because you simply metabolise it, but a lack of protein will definitely harm you. Nor will a high amount of saturated fat in your diet harm you, but you should eat quality fats (saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats), not trans fats (hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated) like margarine.

Coronary artery disease has been determined to be caused by a lack of Vitamin C, L-lysine, and L-proline (amino acids). It's an early form of scurvy, which is a disease caused by a breakdown of the connective tissue in the blood vessels.

Taking more of the essential nutrients (those that your body is unable to produce) than you need will not harm you at all, but taking too little is definitely harmful.

High serum cholesterol has been determined to be only a SECONDARY factor in atherosclerosis. If you up your intake of ascorbate (Vit C), lysine and proline, then your blood lipid profile will improve. The other antioxidative vitamins also help. Your body only deposits LDL gunk in your arteries because it's trying to plug the weak spots in your arteries. And, guess what? Of the 100 000 km of blood vessels in your body, it's mainly only about 20 CENTIMETERS that have the problem. Your coronary arteries. That's because the pumping action of the heart puts a lot of physical stress on the arteries that are on its surface.

Your LDL cholesterol level goes up when you have weak coronary arteries. Fix the nutritional deficiency that causes the weak arteries, and your blood lipid profile improves. There's a ton of research in the last decade that proves the connection.

Anyhow, in closing, not all carbs are bad. Just the junk (high density) carbs like sugar, flour, bread, pasta, potatoes etc. Low G.I. fruit and veg are GOOD carbs. Low-carb does NOT mean NO carb.

Reply to Nutrition Nut
Posted by: Atkins nut | 2004/02/08

A high protein diet does not mean you need to eat enormous amounts of protein. In fact you should be eating animal protein the size of your hand at every meal.

You can eat alot of veggies to fill up. I use virgin olive oil on my veggies which fills me up quite nicely.

You can also have nuts like pecan, macadamia, brazil etc..

Reply to Atkins nut
Posted by: Nutrition Nut | 2004/02/06

Dear jinx

Since you're not too keen on meat, why not substitute with a protein supplement.

It's quite difficult to get enough protein with just eating meat, fish and chicken because the quantities are quite intimidating.

I suggest that you use a high quality whey powder protein. Find one that does not contain Aspartame. I use the USN Whey protein and I find it a lot easier than some other products because it dissolves easily in water. Microfiltered and/or ion-exchange filtered whey powder is about 98% protein. It's marvellous stuff.

You might prefer one of the muscle fuel formulas that have some carbs. It depends on your particular tolerance to carbs and whether you can still burn fat with increased carbs.

I stay away from products that contain soya for two reasons. Firstly, soya contains an enzyme that prevents you from absorbing the protein, and secondly, it contains estrogen imitators. For building muscle, you don't want that. Anything that reduces your natural testosterone is counterproductive.

Low fat diets generally do not work. They feel like torture because you are always on semi-starvation rations.

Stick to your low-carb routine, and you'll have more energy, feel better, and you will lose fat and keep it off too.

Metabolic syndrome will kill you, so a diet that overcomes the insulin resistance has to be a good thing. I encourage you to do some research into this, and don't just follow the majority opinion. Remember, "Smoke Lexington. 100 000 migrant mineworkers (this is the PC version) can't be wrong..."

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