Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Hm. I seem to be seriously on a nutrition kick. Today, I'd like to talk about my protein "aha" moment.

Last week I was on the road for six days at two different conferences. I actually had a lot of free time on three of those days and ended up doing a lot of surfing in my hotel room (yes, I did my yoga and took one long walk too). Via Friend of the Bear, I ended up at a site called At Darwin's Table, a paleo-diet blogger. Although I don't feel the need to follow any particular diet, there is obviously much to learn from my fellow bloggers so I spent a fascinating hour or so watching a documentary on the Atkins diet that he had linked to.

Although overly dramatic for my taste, the documentary looks at why Atkins works despite the fact that you are allowed to eat as many calories as you want of certain foods (proteins, fats and a limited number of fruits and vegetables). I won't go through the whole documentary in detail and go straight what I found extremely interesting. It appears that eating protein leads to satiety a lot faster than eating carbohydrates. If you are not dealing with an eating disorder and are able to stop eating when you recognize that you are full, you will probably end up consuming fewer calories (the only way to lose weight) if you're eating protein rather than carbs.

My "aha" moment came from the fact that I always crave protein when I'm hungry: cheese, meat, peanut butter, whatever. Veggies and fruits alone just don't cut it and sweets don't interest me at all when my stomach's grumbling. I'm happy to eat veggies, but they've got to be accompanied by protein, otherwise I won't feel satisfied.

I have no intention of cutting carbs out of my diet (diet, as in "what I eat", not a "plan"). But I do find this new piece of knowledge useful. What about you?


  1. Hi

    I was intrigued by your latest post "protein" as I saw on Hanlie's blog and followed you over here.
    I have done a bit of research on protein in the past few years, both as a teacher and nutritionist and today I try to help people understand protein a little better - and more properly than most of the misleading facts that are given by the media.

    In terms of the Atkins diet or just plain and simple eating a lot of protein, this puts a huge strain on your liver and kidneys. In fact in our society, we eat too much protein and still have people always concerned if they are getting enough.

    When you say you are "craving" or "hungry" for stuff and usually get satisfied by things like cheese and meat. Believe it or not that has more to do with the fat content in them then the protein itself. Fat is actually the last thing to leave our stomachs during the digestion of food, is the richest source of energy and is very filling.

    The reason most people "crave" or have hunger bouts most typically has actually more to do with the body needing core nutrients and hoping it will get them, when it "eats".

    I can't write a whole book or article on this here (I don't want to take too much of your space) but I will just recommend that probably one of the best books to pick up if weight loss is a concern, and one wants to quickly get to know about protein, carbs, and fats and nutritionally dense eating is Dr. Fuhrman's "Eat to Live"

    As for Dr. Atkins, he dies of hear complications by following his own diet. Go figure. One just cannot put that much fat into their body and not have the cardiovascular system pay a price. Meat and dairy is more fat than protein, even the low fat ones can be quite decieving.

  2. Evita,

    As a new reader, you're probably not aware that I am NOT a low-carber. I am not a proponent of any type of diet or dieting in general. I try to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. I believe that nothing should be off limits, although I'm not a great consumer of highly refined or junk foods.

    As to a desire for protein actually being a desire for fat, how do you explain my total disinterest in carrot cake (a high-fat dessert if there ever was one) when I'm hungry? I have no desire for sweets, no matter how much fat they contain when I'm genuinely hungry.

    Perhaps I should avoid using the word "crave". It seems to have taken on a life of its own on the Internet. As someone who is practicing intuitive eating, but who also has a pretty good grounding in healthy eating, I should be saying "this is what I need to eat--rather than crave--when I'm hungry.

    My bottom line is a variety of healthy foods and a little bit of crap, when I want it and if I actually have room to eat it. When I've eaten enough, I make an intense effort to say no to more food, no matter how enticing!

  3. "My bottom line is a variety of healthy foods and a little bit of crap, when I want it and if I actually have room to eat it."


    That's my plan too and it works pretty darn well!

    I try to get at least a little protein at every meal but I think some of the high protein, high fat plans are silly. Moderation works much better for me.

  4. What I enjoy about Darwin's Table is that Dr Dan is a scientist and his posts reflect that, being objective and carefully considered and evaluated. It's good to have different points of view.

  5. Protein is really important, but I have to be honest and say I'm not a fan of the Adkins diet. I've seen so many people in my weight loss classes who dropped major weight on it (very quickly) and then gained the weight back plus extra pounds.

    Moderation is what I teach - very much like you seem to eat!

  6. I'm never sure if it's the protein or fat that helps me with satiety, though they seem to go together too much to tell the difference. No, sweets don't count, likely because of all the sugar. I find Atkins and other low carb followers to be evangelistic, I can't even read their blogs. They're just too over the top for me in their views of blood sugar, energy balance, etc. I don't think that either a heavy meat diet nor processed carbs are healthy, leaving moderating, once again.