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In 1996, Protein Power: The High-PRotein/Low-Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Fell Fit, and Boost Your Health -- In Just Weeks! zoomed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for more than a year. Written by two physicians who advocated a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates, the book sparked a heated debate that has waged ever since. Yet during that time, countless people have followed the plan in Protein Power and discovered that it not only improved their health and made them feel better but also helped many of them to lose weight. Now this sequel, The Protein Power LifePlan, addresses some of the criticisms directed at the diet and presents a plan for incorporating the diet into a lifestyle for healthier living.
Once again the authors, both of whom are physicians, present their diet plan, systematically explaining why it works and defending each principle with scientific evidence. They tackle the many criticisms that have been raised by the low-fat, high-carbo advocates, documenting through the use of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies why each one lacks merit. The authors present their arguments and their information clearly and concisely, in easy-to-understand language that includes lay explanations when necessary.
The basic principle underlying the diet is a relatively simple one. The authors believe our modern-day physiology is not that different from that of our ancient predecessors, hunting cavemen whose diets consisted of a high percentage of meat. Our metabolism is geared to handle high levels of protein, and the current American passion for low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets has led to a problem with the overproduction of insulin, a hormone that regulates the storage of fat. They point out that despite the modern-day trend toward "healthy" eating, which advocates the consumption of low-fat foods, the incidence of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer continues to rise. The reason, according to the authors, is the high level of carbohydrate consumption -- particularly refined and processed carbohydrates -- which has led to the overproduction of insulin for many.
This time out, the authors have modified their basic diet slightly from when they first presented it in Protein Power. There are warnings provided for the use of some sugar substitutes, particularly aspartame, and discussion of the new artificial sweetener recently approved in the U.S. after a decade of use in Canada, sucralose. And the diet itself has been modified and broken down into three categories so as to better meet the dietary goals and level of commitment of individual readers. There is the Hedonist plan, which offers the least amount of restriction within the authors' prescribed limits, the Dilettante approach, which is a bit more stringent but still middle-of-the-road, and the Purist plan, which involves the most stringent restrictions but promises to provide the most benefits.
The authors walk readers through the transition process, beginning with an "intervention" phase and working up to a maintenance level on the diet. This time out, certain aspects of the diet have been simplified, such as the calculation of individual minimum protein requirements, which is now presented in an easy-to-use table. Listings and tables for the protein portions and carbohydrate content of foods are also included.
As the title implies, The Protein Power LifePlan is more than just a diet. The book covers several other aspects of daily living designed to provide an overall blueprint for healthier living. This includes an in-depth discussion of the benefits of sunbathing, a bound-to-be-controversial defense of sun exposure, and an eye-opening look at how sun blockers may actually be harmful. The authors thoroughly explore various vitamins and minerals, discussing the benefits and hazards of supplementation and overdosing and offering a surprising look at the problems inherent in excess iron storage. There is also an intriguing look at free radicals: their effects on the body, how they are created, and how certain substances act as oxidants or antioxidants to either combat these free radicals or create them. Of course, there is the requisite discussion of fats -- good fats versus bad fats -- but other than agreeing that trans fatty acids are bad, the authors' take on fat consumption is notably different from that of most other diet gurus. The authors' discussion of the various types of fat, and how cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipids work in the body, is one of the most comprehensive primers on fat to be found in any diet book.
A plan of exercise is included as well, but even here the authors depart from the advice of many of their peers by proposing that less frequent, highly intensive exercise sessions are more beneficial than the more commonly advocated sessions of aerobic exercise. The actual fitness program the authors describe incorporates this focus on intensity, utilizing sudden bursts of activity alternating with periods of rest (with appropriate modifications included for the less fit or cardiac challenged person). The exercises themselves are more entertaining than some as the authors have tapped into the caveman theme that permeates their book by modeling the exercises after the types of life experiences our predecessors may have had. The book finishes off with a collection of meal plans, recipes, and advice for stocking the kitchen.
There is an abundance of information stuffed into The Protein Power LifePlan. Even those who choose not to adopt the diet advocated by the authors will come away from the book with a much greater knowledge and understanding of nutrition, health, metabolism, and their own bodies. The information on fat, minerals, and vitamins alone is worth the price of the book. For those who find improved health and weight loss by following the authors' advice, The Protein Power LifePlan will no doubt be priceless.