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By Alissa Carpio
EZ Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Cupcakes with Frosting (serves 12)
Cupcakes: • 3 scoops whey protein • 9 egg whites • ¾ cup Pumpkin • 6 tablespoons flaxseed • 8 packets Stevia • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together with an electric or hand mixer and then pour mix into lined muffin tins. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cooked fully through. They will start to rise and firm at the top of the cupcake as they get done.
LOW-CARB HIGHPROTEIN DIETS L
What does science and research have to say about reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your protein? Would this diet work for you?
Frosting: • ¼ scoop vanilla whey protein • Cinnamon to taste • Stevia to taste
Directions: To make frosting, mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Add water slowly and stir until smooth. Spread evenly on top of each cupcake. Serving size: 1 cupcake Calories: 66; Fats: 1.5g; Carbs: 1.1g; Protein: 9g
ow-carbohydrate diets have gotten such a bad rap over the past few decades that many health- and fitness-conscious individuals have blown off the possibility that eating this way could be beneficial. Blame that rap on misinformation and exaggerated opinions that the only way to go low-carb is to eat bacon, sausage, eggs and cheese – with butter, of course – for breakfast, and that this type of diet is a direct path to a heart attack. Instead of false perceptions, we’ll take a look at what research and science say about how carbohydrates are assimilated by your body and how altering this macronutrient could play a huge role in reaching your fitness goals and building a healthier body. When discussing a diet low in carbohydrates, inevitably the amounts of protein and fat need to be considered to determine
Recipe photos by Taylor Bartram, TaylorBartram.com
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percentage of total caloric intake. Since carbohydrates are lower than the recommended 50-60 percent, either protein, fat or both must be increased to still meet daily energy needs. This concept is where much of the controversy of low-carbohydrate diets comes in to play. The protein Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for the general public is 0.8g/kg bodyweight, while it’s recognized that athletes require as much as 2.0g/kg depending on the sport type, position and individual factors. Protein being set at this value was determined after fat and carbohydrate recommendations were established, with 10 percent of total caloric intake applying to the general population. A high-protein diet would be that in which 25-35 percent of calories come from protein. Unfortunately, not enough adequate studies have been conducted in order to determine optimal amounts of protein consumption in regards to muscle mass, metabolic processes and muscle function. THE ARGUMENTS There are three main arguments against high protein diets. First, critics argue that consuming large amounts of dietary protein can lead to impaired kidney function. Studies indicate, however, that this cannot be concluded. No obvious relation between high-protein diets and kidney function has been found; therefore no contraindications for individuals with healthy renal function have been made. Short-term studies of 6 months on type 2 diabetic individuals showed no harm to kidney function, and other studies have supported similar findings. Another argument against highprotein diets is that they may lead to excess calorie consumption due to higher amounts of fats found in meat and dairy products. Lean meats and low-fat dairy can be selected on a highprotein diet if one’s goal is to keep fat intake lower. However, more studies are finding no link between consumption of saturated fat and excess weight gain. That will be discussed in more detail later. What’s the final ding against highprotein diets? That simply not enough studies have been done to argue in favor of the benefits of a high-protein diet. The majority of studies have not focused on optimal protein intake for
maximum health. It is recommended, however, that protein should be limited to 30-35 percent of daily caloric intake to avoid the possibility of chronic diseases associated with excessively high protein intake. The concern here is that excess nitrogen, a by-product of protein, excreted in the urine indicates too high of a protein intake. However, methods of measuring nitrogen have been less than consistent. Authorities largely agree that the method is flawed and results in excessively high readings that would simply be physiologically impossible. So, it seems that there is not enough scientific evidence to conclude that a high-protein diet is not more beneficial
than a low-protein diet, and that active individuals and athletes may require much more protein in order to optimize their health and fitness benefits. BACK TO CARBS Let’s switch gears and go back to carbohydrates. For decades, the American Dietetic Association has recommended that the average American diet should consist mostly of carbohydrates. The Guidelines for Healthy Americans 2010 recommends a focus on whole grains, vegetables and fruits, while “excess” calories from sweets and sugars should be limited, and fat and protein intake should be low. However, despite these recommendations, overweight
ARE YOU TOO SENSITIVE?
When it comes to insulin, you should hope to be sensitive. Insulin resistance develops in response to consistent, long-term consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates. Insulin surges into the body to shuttle the glucose into storage and control blood sugar from getting too high. As this pattern repeats itself after years of poor eating habits, the body requires more insulin to get the job done. This leads to the body developing insulin resistance, meaning the body resists the affects of the insulin and glucose stays in the blood. Insulin resistance can lead to pre-diabetes and Diabetes Type 2. As WebMD puts it, “Over time people with insulin resistance can develop high sugars or diabetes as the high insulin levels can no longer compensate for elevated sugars.”
Insulin sensitivity, on the other hand, means your body is so responsive to even small amounts of insulin that blood sugar levels are stabilized in response to a meal with only a small release of the hormone. Insulin sensitivity is a result of food in the form of glucose being slowly released into the blood stream. This is why eating carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables - all lower-glycemic - along with a combination of protein, fiber and fat, is the best meal combination possible. These complementary macronutrients slow the release of glucose and slow the insulin response. This also helps you feel fuller and more satisfied after a meal.
EZ Sweet Potato Protein Pancake
• • • • 3-4 oz sweet potato ¼ cup pumpkin ¼ cup oats 1 scoop vanilla protein • • • • • 3 egg whites ½ tsp baking powder Stevia to taste Cinnamon to taste 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Microwave the sweet potato until it's soft. After the potato is cooked, blend all of the ingredients together and cook like a pancake. Top with sugar-free syrup or protein “frosting” if desired.
Calories: 280; Fat: 1g, Carbs: 34g; Protein: 32g
RICH IN OMEGA 3, 6 AND 9
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACID COMPLEX
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and obesity are on the rise more than ever. In 2009, only the District of Colombia and Colorado had obesity rates less than 20 percent. The rest were over. Additionally, studies have shown an increase in percentage of calories from carbohydrates among both men and women since 1971. This may be an indication that high-carbohydrate diets are not the best option for weight management and fat loss. Why might an increase in carbohydrates lead to an increase in overweight, obesity and their associated diseases? Two little but powerful hormones known as insulin and glucagon may be huge factors. Both hormones are the primary ones involved in the body’s energy storage and release. Insulin is released in response to eating. Insulin shuttles food (energy) into storage in our bodies. Food is broken down to glucose and transported to various muscle cells and organs to be stored in the form of glycogen. Excess gets stored as adipose tissue, or fat. When the body needs to call upon that energy, glucagon is released. Glucagon releases glycogen and stored fat for use as energy for every day activities and of course, exercise. But don’t you need lots of carbohydrates for energy? The actual amount of dietary carbohydrates required for daily energy is very controversial. This recommendation is based on the idea that the body’s primary and preferred energy source is glucose, and therefore carbohydrates must be consumed in order to break down into glucose. However, other processes in the body, such as gluconeogenesis, indicate that carbohydrates aren’t the only
BUT WHAT ABOUT SATURATED FATS?
For decades, we’ve been told that saturated fat is practically the worst type of food we can ingest. It’s been linked to obesity, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke and many other deadly diseases. However, studies over the past five decades have not yet been able to link saturated fat intake to any of these diseases. This premise that saturated fat causes disease is based on the diet-heart hypothesis of 1953. This original hypothesis has yet to be proven by scientific research and studies. A recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 analyzed more than 21 studies conducted in the past 10 years. The results found not one solid link that intake of saturated fat found in meat and dairy led to heart disease or stroke. What the study did find was that the top two possible links to such diseases were the Mediterranean diet and the consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates. Our bodies require saturated fat for many important functions. The brain, nervous system, endocrine system and adrenal glands have the highest saturated fat and cholesterol requirement in the body. Hormone and metabolic function can be negatively affected by too low consumption of saturated fats.
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source of glycogen. Glucagon, that little hormone mentioned earlier that shuttles stored energy into use, stimulates the process of gluconeogenesis, which actually converts amino acids into glucose. In the book, Protein Power, Dr. Eades also points out that glucagon converts dietary fat and stored fat into glucose as well. Therefore, it’s possible that the amount of carbohydrates we ingest exceeds our bodies’ energy requirements. Why else might a high-carbohydrate diet not be in our best interest? Aside from the AJCN study suggesting a high-glycemic carbohydrate intake can be linked to obesity, heart disease, stroke and several types of cancer, while other studies show interesting data in terms of weight management and fat loss. Greater satisfaction, increased weight loss and less hunger were identified in association with higher-protein diets. A 2009 study on obese participants found that those following a high-protein, low-fat diet prevented weight regain better than those following a highcarbohydrate, low-protein diet. A 2008 Nutrition Bulletin study showed that weight regain was 50 percent less in the group that increased dietary protein from 15 to 18 percent. DIET TIPS & SUGGESTIONS Amy Kubal is an athlete and registered dietitian who works with top athletes in developing customized sports nutrition plans. She weighed in on how shifting the macronutrient focus from the typical high-carbohydrate diet may help in health and fitness goals. “A reduced carbohydrate diet is
great for changing the focus of the diet to ‘real food’ and moving away from processed, packaged options. This type of eating also has the capability to enhance fat-burning potential and aid in the ‘leaning out’ process. The success and benefits of a low carbohydrate diet in training depend greatly on food choices, individual goals, workout strategies and health status.” There are some areas of concern for those considering this diet approach. Says Kubal, “Low-carb diets are not ideal for endurance athletes, very lean individuals or those with some health conditions. Also, it is important to choose nutrient-dense foods such as lean or grass-fed meats, plenty of non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats instead of special ‘low-carb’ processed foods.” (For more on Amy Kubal’s blog and diet tips, visit http://fuelasrx.blogspot.com/.) High-protein diets go hand in hand with low-carbohydrate diets. Nutrients must be displaced from carbohydrates in order to increase protein and not exceed daily calorie needs. Fat is a necessary component, and as we have seen, saturated fat is also extremely important. Amy also gives some pointers on shifting the focus away from carbs and towards protein: “The optimal diet need not be ‘high protein,’ but rather moderate protein. Reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing healthy fats and protein is very useful when getting lean is the goal.” Emily Zaler, fitness expert and author of the cookbook, The EZ Whey, is passionate about helping others incorporate protein into their diets in fun, easy and delicious ways. Zaler’s book helps readers make foods like protein-packed pancakes, cookies, cupcakes and ice cream – foods not typically considered rich in protein. (Three of her recipes are included throughout this article.) Zaler shares her thoughts on the importance of increasing this powerful macronutrient in our diets: “Protein is an essential macronutrient that our bodies need to help build muscle and burn fat. Many people are not aware of just how beneficial protein is, and how important it is to include in your diet!” (For more on Zaler’s blog and book, visit her website at EmilyZaler.com.) MS&F
EZ Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownies
• • • • • • • • • ½ cup oats ½ cup canned or fresh pumpkin 1 scoop chocolate peanut butter protein 2 tablesppon flaxseeds 5 egg whites 2 tbsp water Stevia to taste (about 3 packets) 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder* • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on high-protein diets found that participants generally have greater satisfaction, increased weight loss and less hunger while following a macronutrient ratio of 50 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fat and 30 percent protein. The Journal of Nutrition reported that following a highprotein diet and participating in exercise enhanced blood fat levels and increased fat loss.
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Directions: Mix oats, protein, baking powder, cocoa, flax, Stevia and peanut butter. Add in pumpkin, egg whites and water. Mix well and bake in a mini brownie pan at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. You can top with additional peanut or almond butter if desired. *Optional to add dark chocolate or cacao chips to the recipe (this information is not included in nutrient breakdown). Calories: 330; Fat: 7g; Carbs: 37.2g; Protein: 31.4g
In 2009, Claessens and colleagues conducted research on the effects of high-protein, low-fat diets and highcarbohydrate, low-fat diets on generally healthy obese adults. The findings concluded that a high-protein, lowfat diet prevented weight regain better than the highcarbohydrate, low-fat diet, and even allowed for continual modest weight loss and decrease in body fat post diet.
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