A little detour into the Protein Power book by Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades, 1996. Was looking at a few things sparked by the thermodynamics posts he's made, and was surprised by a few things in the PP book that I had never even skimmed until now. This post didn't fit the thermo topic, so I thought I'd mention this separately (and there may be another post or two coming as time permits).
I had never heard of the Eades or their books until I found the low carb community in 2009. While Atkins remains the primary low carb diet, the PP book/plan is high up on the list for second place, and Eades' blog was still uber popular at that time.
Circa 2009 the low carb mantras of the day were largely focused on:
- Up the fat intake
- Fat can't make you fat
- You can't get fat or gain fat weight without eating carbs, so even if you don't lose more weight, at least you won't gain.
Along Came Paleo ...
Paleo was gaining more widespread popularity with Sisson's Primal Blueprint to be followed shortly by Robb Wolf's 2010 The Paleo Solution. In the early days of my blogging I looked into this notion that the paleo diet was a low carb diet, or even an ultra low carb diet. It would be a few years before I became acquainted with Robb and his "work" in the community, but as it turns out, after Art DeVany and Loren Cordain, Robb credits the Eades in his book:
Other key resources in my early learning included the books Protein Power and Protein Power: LifePlan by Michael and Mary Eades. The Eades had worked as bariatric physicians for over twenty years. Their amazing success with overweight patients was the result of understanding our ancestral diet. They reversed diabetes, depression, GI problems, and autoimmunity while helping clients lose enormous amounts of weight. (p. 20)
Never one to overstate exaggerations or anything is he? Eades used to mention evolution and such in his blog posts but it was coming across this paper (I don't recall, perhaps in 2010, 2011) that I learned about that connection: Hyperinsulinemic diseases of civilization: more than just Syndrome X. One might say that Eades is one of the mother ships who puts the "I" in Incestral Health Community!
I've blogged quite a bit about the paleo diets, it's a topic that had been on my mind since the beginnings of this blog: Was our ancestral diet REALLY VLC and high fat? That post discussed the first of the Eaton and various et.al. analyses of paleo diet composition. I've collected most of the relevant articles with links to full texts (or you can request access) on my Paleo Papers post.
This is from the 12 year update to the original paper. As is easily seen, although the species of plants and animals changed, protein (power!) was high throughout, never below 30% which is roughly double what is recommended for most "standard" Western diets. Carbohydrate ranging from 41% to 46% is barely low carb by any standard (41%) to downright real SAD level intake (46% -- more on that in a bit). But whoa ... look at that fat content which tops off at 25%! This borderlines on "true" low fat by Western standards, and is well below the barely 30% achieved in low fat interventions. Also of note, P:S refers to polyunsaturate to saturate fatty acid ratio, so high PUFA, low sat fat. All of the clinical paleo trials have been low sat fat by absolute intake, and would all pretty much meet the modest 10% intake recommended by the evil USDA. Some percentages have been as low as 5%! See this post.
So I'm not going to rehash the whole "how did paleo become high sat fat" story here, rather that Eades mentions such matters in PP. First, below is a screenshot of a section in the Epilogue:
While percentages of calories from the three macros are not addressed, Eades is a flag bearer of the human as carnivore (or at least carnivorous leaning omnivore) idea. He also refers to the agricultural diet as "high carbohydrate". In the case of the early neolithic, and traditional agricultural populations, this may well be the case ... but the inference that modern "agricultural" diets are somehow similarly high carb or even comparable is absurd. I think the wild rice yields I highlighted in a recent post can help put to rest that agriculture is even necessary for high carbohydrate availability!
What is the Protein Power Diet?
The diet put forth by the Eades is pretty limited. You figure out your protein needs based on lean body mass and activity level: Grams = [LBM in pounds] x [0.5 sedentary --- 0.9 athlete].
The process is simple: each meal should contain a serving of lean protein adequate for you [... see charts ...] along with no more than the maximum amount of carbohydrate per meal recommended for that intervention level.
You get protein mostly from meat, fish and eggs and ... get this ... low fat dairy, tofu and tempeh are acceptable. Divide protein between three meals, and the importance of eating at least 3 meals a day is stressed. This protein is complemented with veggies and/or low sugar fruit to the tune of 30 g/day for the severely obese and/or metabolically imbalanced (based on labs) or 55 g/day for the only modestly overweight or metabolically normal. The Eades state that their diet will put most people
"... on the cusp of ketosis, which is where you want to be."
Their maintenance plan -- increasing carbs gradually to roughly equal protein intake -- would likely still pass for low carb in some circles (and certainly for smaller individuals) -- but is most definitely NOT the very low carb, very high fat to chronic keto plans currently being promoted. On the other hand, this plan is hardly that high in protein. While they don't appear to limit protein, when I work out the numbers, protein isn't all that high after all:
- Low end case: short sedentary woman
- Before: 200 lb, 40% BF, bump activity factor to 0.6 = 72g protein
- + 30g carb in Phase I = about 400 calories pro+carb
- After: 120 lb, 30% BF, 0.5 activity factor = 42g protein
- + 55g carb Phase II/maintenance = about 400 calories pro+carb
- High end case: tall athletic man
- Before: 300 lb, 35% BF, bump activity off chart to 1.0 = 195g protein
- + 55g carb in Phase II = about 1000 calories pro+carb
- After: 200 lb, 15% BF, 0.9 activity factor = 153g protein
- + 150g carb match in maintenance = about 1200 calories pro+carb
If our short woman is consuming only 1200 cal/day in any stage here, she's at about 25%P-10%C-65%F before → 12%P-13%C-75%F after. If the tall athletic man consumes 2400 cal/day in any stage here, he's at 33%P-10%C-57%F before → 25%P-25%C-50%F after. Does this sound right? It only gets more out of whack if more reasonable caloric levels are considered!
Protein Power then, really is a pretty low calorie program in disguise, with protein recommendations that end up being not all that powerful after all. Also
"We’ve made this plan even easier to follow; we’ve done the calculations for you by breaking down the protein intake per meal into four general categories with serving sizes for the main food sources of lean protein in various combinations."
And referring to protein equivalency charts provided in the book:
Use these portion sizes as your guide for the number of eggs or the amount of grilled chicken, lean beef, tuna salad, or other protein source you need.
While there's quite a bit about fat in Chapter 12, there really are no hard and fast rules on fat intake. Let this screenshot soak in for all of the irony it contains!
The Australian Ancestral Diet Study ...
Although the Docs Eades are by all indications born and bred US of Americans, for some reason the took a diagonal journey half way around the globe to find a representative diet to highlight in their book. This was to contrast that diet with the diet that was making us "low fat, high carb" Americans fat and sick. There's an odd citation, preceding this by a few pages:
According to the National Research Council’s Committee on Diet and Health in 1985, 46 percent of calories in the average American’s diet came from carbohydrate, 43 percent from fat, and a paltry 11 percent from protein: 89 percent of the American diet is fat and carbohydrate.
I've never seen such a stat. On page 260 of a 1989 book put out by the NRCC, in 1985 protein made up roughly 16% of the diet as it has throughout the NHANES reports spanning our obesity epidemic. I would also note that 43% is not low fat, though perhaps we see where the 43% nonsense in Teicholz's book comes from (Eades in on that manuscript review).
But wherever this stat comes from, it matched up nicely with the "urbanized aboriginal" diet in a diet trial headed by Kerin O'Dea. I had previously blogged on this study here: Ancestral Rabbit Starvation Medical Vacations! I'll get to the study in a minute, but first, the Eades' description in a section entitled Better in the Bush: Aborigines and Insulin Resistance:
Dr. O’Dea began her studies by looking at the baseline insulin and glucose levels of urbanized aborigine subjects who were consuming a Western diet. She found that both the insulin and the glucose levels Western diet. She found that both the insulin and the glucose levels were significantly elevated, which should come as no surprise when we consider the diet they were eating: “white flour, white sugar, white rice, carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages (beer, port), powdered milk and cheap fatty meat.” This sounds a lot like the diet of the majority of teenagers in America today. When we look at the composition of this diet in terms of the three nutrient types, we find that it is “high in refined carbohydrate (40-50%) and fat (40-50%) and relatively low in protein (< or = 10%)” or almost precisely the same composition as the typical American diet.
Eades first describes a two-week preliminary study where they were fed an ...
... experimental diet, which she designed to approximate the original native diet they would consume were they back in the bush: considerable protein, not a lot of fat, and very little carbohydrate. The nutrient composition was “protein 70-75%, fat 20-25%, [and] carbohydrate <5 blockquote="">5>From the abstract of that study:We have investigated plasma glucose and insulin responses to 75 g glucose in 12 young, full-blood Aborigines before and after 2 weeks on a diet derived almost exclusively from seafood. This diet was low in fat, extremely low in carbohydrate and high in protein and was representative of the diet consumed by these people in their traditional lifestyle during those times of the year when very little vegetable food was available.Eades touts the power of protein and restricting carbs:... subjects had developed “a small but significant improvement in glucose tolerance which was accompanied by a similar small reduction in insulin response.” She [O'Dea] concluded that “these findings suggest an improvement in glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity after the high protein-low carbohydrate diet.”This study, by the way, was in 20-something healthy subjects. I wonder why Eades didn't quote the following from the abstract:The insulin response to 50 g protein also fell significantly after the seafood diet. The results suggest that glucose tolerance is not determined solely by the carbohydrate content of the diet, but rather by the availability of carbohydrate either directly or indirectly in precursor form as dietary protein.OK so Eades goes on to say that this trial inspired O'Dea to do a longer intervention in unhealthy subjects. In this study (full text link), O'Dea recruited 10 full-blooded Aborigines who were diabetic and sent them to remote areas where they were cut-off from access to "urbanized" foods. Here's the table summarizing the diets and timeframes.Eades describes this as follows:During the seven weeks that the aborigines lived off the land in the bush Dr. O’Dea and her group kept careful records of the various foods the subjects ate as they wandered from area to area and tabulated them for later analysis. Depending on whether the group was on the coast or traveled inland, the diet varied, with protein ranging from 54 to 80 percent, fat from 13 to 40 percent, and carbohydrate from less than 5 percent to a high of 33 percent.Why am I not surprised that this is not an entirely accurate portrayal of the macronutrient ratios. For starters, as you can see from the table, only the inland diet was measured over two weeks. But in addition, the first 10 days were NOT the aboriginal diet:During the 10-day trip from Derby to the coastal location, the diet was mixed and included locally killed beef, since supplies of bush food were inadequate: meat (beef, kangaroo), fresh-water fish and turtle, vegetables, and honey. It was estimated that beef comprised 75% of the energy intake during this 10-day period and the overall dietary composition was estimated to be: protein 50%, fat 40%, and carbohydrate 10%. No further beef was consumed once the group arrived at the coastal location.So for 5.5 weeks, the subjects ate a low fat diet (even very low fat). Because ...When the Aborigines were eating wild animal foods exclusively (coast and inland, 5.5 wk) the diet was low in fat due to the low fat content of wild animals and fish. This would have been an important factor in their weight loss. During the one period when their energy intake was accurately measured (2 wk in the third phase of the study), it was found to average 1200 kcal/person/day. Since weight loss was constant over the 3 phases of the study (Figure 1), it was assumed that the energy intake was also fairly constant (1100-1300 kcal/person/day) over the 7-wk period.I'm going to revisit this study from another angle, but for now I want to point out a few things here, and limit to the 5.5 week "real aboriginal food" phases:
- 54-80% protein is extremely high for even "high protein" diets such as paleo gets panned for being (35% is general average cited by paleo detractors).
- Those percents calculated for the 1200 and1300 cal/day results in a range from 162 to 260 grams of protein per day. This is considerably higher (roughly) than a generous Protein Power formula calculation for the roughly 180 lb average subjects.
- You wanna talk low fat? I thought we were deficient, or this made us fat! What we know most accurately is 13% of 1200 cal = 17.3 grams ... a little more than a tablespoon. Meanwhile 20% of 1100-1300 cals maxes us out at a whopping 28.8 grams or about an ounce of fat!!Why didn't Eades address this or the calories? It doesn't fit the low carb schtick. That's why. Instead, Eades sums this up with:
Dr. O’Dea discovered by actual experimentation with a group of people afficted with one of the diseases of civilization the same thing that anthropologists learned by examining the mummy and skeletal data: the carbohydrate-restricted, high-protein diet confers optimal health on its followers.Alrighty! But here's the kicker -- because remember, they weren't eating steak and eggs here, and beef was only an interim travel measure.Where does this leave us? You are probably wondering if you need to start subsisting on snails, turtles, kangaroo, crocodiles, crickets, and other diverse beasts to get your cholesterol down. That would work, but you don’t have to go to those lengths. Our regimen provides all the benefits of the hunter-gatherer diet but uses foods that you capture at the grocery store and even in the wilds of the nearest fast-food outlet. All we need do to gain the benefits of the hunter-gatherer diet is to consume a diet that approximates it in nutritional composition, which we can do easily.In other words, all the benefits of a hunter-gatherer diet without all the hunting and/or gathering? But Protein Power is NOT a diet that approximates the nutritional composition of the diet Eades devoted a few pages to: both macronutrient composition and the types of each macro (e.g. saturated vs. PUFA) differ greatly on the Eades' menus.
That Was 1995 ... This is "Then":
In May 2011, long before the current keto craze, Dr. Mike Eades wrote one of the more creepy things I've read from a member of the IHC (and I've "seen" it all!)
The whole notion of listening to your body is one of my major pet peeves. In fact, just hearing those words makes me want to puke. In my experience, they are usually uttered by females with moist, dreamy looks in their eyes , but not always. I just read a ton of comments in a recent Paleo blog post in which vastly more males than females actually wrote this drivel. Listening to your body is giving the elephant free rein.
His responses in comments there demonstrated that he "just didn't get it" regarding this creeptastic drivel! I had read several articles by Eades that I'd been linked to during my days on Jimmy Moore's discussion board. He had seemed, circa 2008, to remain quite reasonable on the subjects of calories, although his rhetoric about the turns-out-to-be-non-existent metabolic advantage was building steam. Still, those who were PP veterans touted it as more moderate than Atkins at least in the hype-in-the-book department. But if there were any questions as to the zealotry of this man, they were laid to rest when he wrote his Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb .
Once you get past the creepy part, Eades tells the tale of Lt. Frederick Schwatka, whose diary of his unsuccessful journey to locate the Franklin party in the Arctic in the late 1800s was found and published in the 1960's. Eades quotes this passage from the diary:
When first thrown wholly upon a diet of reindeer meat, it seems inadequate to properly nourish the system and there is an apparent weakness and inability to perform severe exertive, fatiguing journeys. But this soon passes away in the course of two or three weeks.
Which after some commentary is continued ...
At first the white man takes to the new diet in too homeopathic a manner, especially if it be raw. However, seal meat which is far more disagreeable with its fishy odor, and bear meat with its strong flavor, seems to have no such temporary debilitating effect upon the economy.
Eades thus surmises that the 2-3 week period is the keto-adaptation period, and that seal and bear were more fatty so that increased fat content ameliorated or eliminated the adaptation period. So here's Eades' advice:
If you want to reduce the time you spend in low-carb adaptation, crank up the fat. If you go on a high-protein, moderate-fat diet (Schwatka’s reindeer diet), your body will convert the protein to glucose via gluconeogenesis, so you’ll still have glucose to keep the glucose worker enzymes busy and will prolong the conversion to fat and ketones as your primary energy source. So Rule Number One to reduce the time spent in low-carb adaptation purgatory is: Don’t be a wuss when you start your low-carb way of eating. Keep the carbs cut to the minimum and load up on the fat. Eat fatty cuts of meat, cooked in butter or lard if you want, and force your body over to using the fats and ketones for energy as nature intended.
So this load of hooey has been around for a while now. Won't those glucose worker enzymes still be busy after 2-3 weeks of reindeer starvation? Yet Schwatka reported things subsided. This ever changing narrative would be amusing were it not used in such utterly dishonest fashion to promote every which gimmick these low carb hacks are pandering at the moment. Just to be certain, I looked up reindeer meat and found this (there was more detailed analysis reported here):
Although oily fish is an important source of essential fatty acids in the Norwegian diet, the levels of some of these substances in reindeer meat is comparable to those found in seafood such as cod, crab, mussels, oysters and scampi. Additionally, 100 grams of reindeer meat contains the daily recommended dose of omega-3 and 6 ...
... With a fat content of only two per cent, reindeer meat is very lean. Beef typically has a fat content of nine percent, with lamb as high as 17 percent.
Oh OK. But seal! Seal meat (rotted at that) was the primary food reported to be consumed by Heinbecker. That study reports that Krogh and Krogh analyzed seal meat and found it to be 6 to 10% fat (comparable at the high end to beef) and places the overall intake at ~280 grams protein a day comprising 45% of total energy. And yet ... wait for it ... no or very mild ketosis was observed.
But most importantly, since in 1995 Eades claimed that the Protein Power mimicked the phenomenal O'Dea diet -- only without the bugs, turtles, kangaroo, and fish, fish and more fish. Apparently gluconeogenesis didn't run rampant in the Aborigines of Australia. None of this is anywhere to be found in the book that is supposedly based on all the experience of the Docs Eades. No ... in that book you are told that "the cusp of ketosis" is "where you want to be". There's NOTHING in there remotely resembling the following "sage" advice:
I mean, don’t try to be noble by eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts – instead insert some pats of butter under the skin of a chicken leg and thigh before cooking, and wolf them with your fingers while the fat drips down your arms. Do not trim the fat from your steaks – eat them from the fat side in. If you leave anything on your plate, make sure it’s the meat and not the fat. If you don’t already, learn to love bacon, and don’t cook it ‘til the fat is all gone: eat it wobbly. Wallow in Mangalitsa lardo.Seriously??
And whatever you do, for God’s sake, don’t listen to your body during this adaptation period or ...Yes God forbid!
... you’ll never cross the chasm between fat and miserable on your high-carb diet and slim, happy, energetic and low-carb adapted on the other side. In my next post, I’ll give you the rest of the tips and tricks to get through low-carb adaptation that MD and I have learned in our combined 50 plus years of taking care of patients on low-carb diet.Remind me again why this man needs a mirdle?