Protein power diet plan

What Brunilda Nazario, MD, Says:

Does It Work?

A high-protein diet will help you lose weight. A number of studies show that diets higher in protein keep you fuller better than other types of diets. Other studies show that restricting carbs, as a result of a high-protein diet, causes more weight loss. But calories still count!

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

The Protein Power diet would work for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol. The Power Protein diet is a low-carb diet with less than 20% of total calories from carbs or less than 100 grams of carbs per day. Limiting carbs helps lower blood sugar, insulin, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure. It also boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

But getting too much protein can raise your uric acid levels, which can cause gout. Too much protein load also could be a problem in anyone with kidney problems.

You also need to make sure that you’re not getting too much fat from your food if your doctor has given you guidelines on that to help lower your cholesterol, for instance.

Women of childbearing age need folate, which is added to flour, and if you cut out carbs, that will mean you get less folate. Prepregnancy weight loss is best done with a more balanced approach that cuts calories.

The Final Word

It’s a simple dieting approach that essentially eliminates one major food group, and, like any restrictive diet, it is difficult for most people to sustain for a long time, .

This diet will help you lose weight, but if you have a specific nutritional need this may not be the diet for you. You may need to take a daily supplement to cover any nutritional gaps in vitamins and minerals.

Protein Power Diet

Protein Power Diet was first published in 1996 by authors Michael and Mary Eades. The diet is a weight loss diet similar to the popular Atkins Diet – but with MANY differences.

This is essentially a diet that is low in carbohydrates, and high in proteins and fats. The book has been popular, and (like most other diet books) has been followed a line of products, kits, and books.

Update: In 2009 the authors published an updated version of Protein Power.

Buy this book from Amazon.

High Protein or Not?

The Protein Power plan has more protein than the average Western diet. It also has fairly restricted levels of carbohydrate. But it does not have the induction phase to bring about ketosis (such as Atkins). Like so many dietary regimens they work for some but not for others.

Like many low-er carb diets they always attract controversy – due to the fact that they go against the predominant high-carb food pyramid that has been taught by health authorities. This does not mean that they are bad – but it pays to know what you are doing when making significant changes to your diet.

Health Benefits

The authors of Protein Power claim the diet will reduce insulin levels, and general health will improve due to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. There is some wisdom in this – perhaps not so much from the quantity of carbs, but due to the quality (or lack of it) – that is present in so many modern processed foods.

Many people do find some benefit in reducing carbohydrate input. However the exact portions and percentages will vary from person to person – making it difficult to prescribe a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan.

The good thing about Protein Power is that it is not extreme. It does not prescribe very low calories (see Zone)- and neither does it totally knock out most carbs (see Atkins)

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

4 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed

  1. Unka Dave

    I’ve been doing Protein Power for 9 weeks today, and I’ve lost 30 pounds – 12-1/2% total weight loss. Some little bumps along the way… but generally I’m very happy with the progress. Gold Star Whey Powder (highly recommended) is a tasty way to start the morning and give the proteins a boost… and sensible eating the rest of the day isn’t too difficult. I don’t often miss the carbs that used to be such a ‘natural’ part of my diet! With the emphasis on no sugar and no refined carbohydrates at all, it’s certainly a large step in the right direction to re-training this old dog to eat better!

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  2. sanda w.

    I ate a protein ice cream called Arctic Zero that tastes really good. It’s 136 calories for the entire pint, and it’s got 20 grams of whey protein concentrate in it.

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  3. Bruce B.

    I followed this diet for about 8 months… I lost about 70 pounds, because I was very strict about quantity of food intake, but not about food type. Because of that, I took in too many meats that promote gout, and developed that condition along the way, including swollen knees, and a cyst on my hand. If you decide to follow this diet, do it by the book, and don’t ‘wing it’. Follow food recommendations, and especially supplement recommendations; that is critical, and not stressed enough in the book. It does what they claim; weight loss, lower blood pressure and triglycerides, etc. However, your life style must change forever. I rebounded, and put all my weight back on. I find I cannot go back onto the diet now; it seems too extreme. If you follow this diet, choose from a balanced protein/vegetable menu that takes into consideration all the recommended carbohydrate restrictions. I enjoyed it, and wish I could use it as my lifestyle…

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  4. Jerry Catania

    It works. The body is a protein producing machine. Hormones, new skin cells, etc. are made by the body from amino acids (proteins).

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Last Reviewed: April 2, 2017

What Is the Protein Power Diet?

Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets had their day in the sun, when the book Protein Power managed to stay at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List for 13 months. But there is still much to be said for a low-carb, high protein regimen. Followed carefully, it is still possible to lose weight using such a diet.

The book referred to above was written by a doctor couple, Michael R. and Mary Dan Eades, MD, after their frustrated search for an existing diet to help their patients lose weight. The Zone author, Barry Sears, labeled their diet plan as the epitome of 90’s research and optimism. The Drs. Eades promised on the cover of their book that readers who followed their diet would lose weight and feel fit in a matter of weeks.

Protein Power is one of the few historical diet books every published, exhibiting the fruits of the Eades’ persistent research into the past of diets and their fads. They even manage to drag in the antique “Letter on Corpulence” by William Banting, a naval attaché to the British Embassy in Mexico during the Civil War. As well as being scientific, bandying about explanations of insulin and glycogens, their book is quite practical, explaining what to order in a French restaurant, and what foods are almost acceptable in a fast food place.

What You Can Eat on the Protein Power Diet

The Protein Power diet revels in fish, eggs, beef, pork, poultry, and cheese. It remains the only diet in history to encourage gluttony. It has never been any great shakes for vegans, since tofu is the only protein they are allowed; and tofu three times a day is about a dreadful as . . . as . . . well, as tofu three times a day!

In order to figure out how big a steak you may sink your teeth into, the book explains the various steps to measure body fat and lean body mass and the distance from Jupiter to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It looks complicated, but it’s not. The Eades wrote the book, not exactly for dummies, but for those who feel challenged by a yard stick or protractor.

The list of ‘good’ protein foods reads like a menu from an Iowa chophouse. Any kind of red meat, organ meat, poultry, is allowed. Eggs are okay. Seafood is allowed. Going through the book, one notices eventually that the authors never say anyone will lose weight, only that they will lose fat. The problem comes when you crave a warm slice of Texas toast or a bowl of grits – 30 grams of carbohydrates is all that’s allowed per day – and that amounts to about sixteen oyster crackers. But the Eades cheerfully promise that you’ll feel better, perform better (at work and in the bedroom) and that your overall health will bloom like a hothouse hibiscus. Of course, there are plenty of low-carb veggies and fruits to fill out the menu – green leafy vegetables, rhubarb, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, oranges, pears, kumquats, and berries of any sort. Even avocado, which is verboten in most other diets, is here lauded as a low-carb wonder with high protein content.

Like the other low-carbohydrate diets, the Protein Power regimen is based on the claim that controlling the level of insulin, “the master hormone of human metabolism,” helps regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fat storage. Carbohydrates cause the body to produce insulin, and high levels of insulin inhibit the breakdown of fatty deposits in the body. In contrast, low intake of carbohydrates keeps insulin levels low, forcing the production of a counterbalancing hormone, glucagon, which seeks energy from the body’s supply of stored fat. Therefore, one loses weight. Do this long enough and the fat seems to melt away, the authors of 1999’s “Protein Power” claim, and they add that the usual “low-fat, high-carbohydrate approach won’t do it; it has just the opposite effect.”

If you are very overweight, the initial phase of the diet (when carbohydrates are severely restricted) will almost certainly put you in a state of ketosis, which happens when fat breaks down to the point where excessive amounts of ketone bodies are produced and excreted in the urine. Ketones are produced when fat is burned for energy, say authors Michael Eades, MD, and Mary Dan Eades, MD, so that any ketones “you get rid of without actually using them for energy means you are ditching unwanted fat without having to actually burn it off.”

Is ketosis dangerous, as many nutritional experts say? Not at all, say the authors. Ketones are the natural by-product of fat breakdown, normal and important sources of energy. To facilitate getting rid of these ketones, they urge you to increase your fluid intake by as much as 50%, to at least 2 quarts of water-based fluids a day. High-protein diets can be harmful, however, to those who have had previous kidney problems.

As for exercise, the authors favor resistance training, such as weight lifting, because it creates a neuroendocrine response, stimulating the release of growth hormone and testosterone more quickly than aerobic exercise. Why is this important? This is important because growth hormone shifts the metabolism to the preferential use of stored fat for energy.

The Protein Power Diet

The Protein Power diet was first introduced in 1996 by Michael Eades, MD, and Mary Eades, MD, both family practice doctors. Their book, Protein Power, continues to be popular.

“The Protein Power diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. This diet is based on about 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and lots of lean proteins,” explains Molly Kimball, RD, a sports dietitian at the Ochsner Health System’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans.

How Does the Protein Power Diet Work?

The theory behind the Protein Power diet is based on lowering your body’s insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone in your body that regulates carbohydrate metabolism, or breakdown.

High insulin levels are not good. Some effects of high insulin levels include:

  • Conversion of dietary fat into body fat
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased fluid retention by your kidneys

The theory is that if you keep your carbohydrate intake low and rely on protein and some fats in your diet, your insulin level will be lower. The Protein Power diet authors say that lower insulin and fewer carbohydrates will lead to weight loss.

The Protein Power Diet: Sample Menu

Foods that are encouraged in the Protein Power diet include beef, pork, wild game, and eggs.

Restricted foods include cereals, bread, pasta, refined sugars, and large portions of fruit. Here is a sample menu that has about 1,600 calories, of which 25 percent come from protein, 50 percent from fat, and only 25 percent from carbohydrates:

  • Breakfast: a poached egg, toast with butter and a one-ounce breakfast sausage, and coffee or tea
  • Lunch: three ounces of tuna and one-half of a boiled egg, seasoned with mustard and low-fat mayonnaise, a limited amount of pita bread, lettuce, tomato, bean sprouts, pickles, olives, green onion, and sunflower seeds
  • Dinner: four ounces of grilled salmon with one cup of zucchini and one-half tablespoon of butter, a mixed green salad with an oil and vinegar dressing, and four ounces of white wine
  • Snacks: typical snacks include two ounces of Gouda cheese and a large orange

The Protein Power Diet: Pros and Cons

“In addition to weight loss and improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, the benefits of high- protein, low-carbohydrate diets include less hunger, which leads to fewer calories,” says dietitian Bonnie J. Brehm, PhD, professor in the college of nursing at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. “This diet also helps preserve lean body mass — dieters retain muscle mass while losing fat.”

On the negative side, says Brehm, “restriction of carbohydrates may lead to inadequate intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals due to decreased intake of grain, fruit, vegetable, and dairy groups. Also, high intake of protein may lead to stress on the kidneys.”

Some other concerns about the Protein Power diet include:

  • Insufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium could contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Allowing saturated fats in this diet could contribute to heart disease.
  • Elimination of carbohydrates such as fruits, sweets, and baked goods could make the diet hard for many people to follow.

The Protein Power Diet: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

Some good, short-term benefits exist with this diet. It’s not too extreme. Eating lean protein, allowing some fat, and eliminating refined sugars are all good strategies.

“But for the long term, I’m not sure you would want to give up the benefits of healthy quantities of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables,” says Kimball.

Says Brehm: “For the long-term, a diet moderately increased in protein and modestly restricted in carbohydrate and fat, particularly saturated fat, will have a beneficial outcome.”

Contributor: Alyssa Tyler, MS, RD, LD

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Protein powders are a quick way to help ensure that your body is nourished and satisfied. People use them for a variety of reasons — to lose weight, to improve sports performance and build muscle mass, and for overall wellness.

How do you know which protein powder is best to meet your personal health goals? It’s important to know the difference between available protein powders as well as how they stack up against whole food protein sources.

Whole foods vs. protein powder

You can meet your body’s daily protein requirements whether you drink shakes or eat only whole foods. However, they don’t offer equal nutrition.

What you may find surprising is that shakes generally contain fewer nutrients than whole foods. For that reason, shakes may help you lose weight, but whole foods can offer a bigger nutritional punch.

RELATED: How You Can Beat Weight Gain After Menopause

Protein types and uses

Whey protein is one of the most commonly used proteins and is best for day-to-day use. It contains all of the essential amino acids and is easily digested. It helps boost energy and can reduce stress levels. Whey isolates and concentrates are best to use after a workout.

Soy protein is another common choice. It helps reduce high cholesterol and can ease symptoms of menopause for some women. It can also help with osteoporosis by helping build bone mass.

Other types of protein include:

  • Egg protein, released more slowly than whey, can be taken throughout the day.
  • Milk proteins help support immune function and enhance muscle growth.
  • Rice protein, which is 100 percent plant-based, is a good choice for vegetarians or for people who don’t consume dairy products. It’s also gluten-free.
  • Pea protein is highly digestible, hypo-allergenic and economical.
  • Hemp protein is also 100 percent plant-based. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About Protein

Matching a powder to your needs

With so many choices, how do you decide which protein powder is best for you? Here are some general guidelines, based on the outcomes you’re looking for:

  1. Build muscles — For muscle growth, choose a protein powder with a high biological value (a value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein). Whey protein and whey isolates are your best options.
  2. Lose weight — To lose weight, choose shakes with no added sugars or dextrins/maltodextrins (sweeteners made from starch). Don’t choose those with added branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), as they help promote muscle growth and weight gain.
  3. Stay vegetarian or vegan — If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t choose milk-based protein shakes (e.g., whey, milk proteins); instead use 100 percent plant proteins.
  4. Go low-sugar with diabetes — Patients who have diabetes should choose protein shakes without added sugar (don’t choose protein powders with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients). It’s also best to look for a shake that’s low in carbohydrates (less than 5 grams per serving).
  5. Limit protein for kidney disease — People with kidney disease can’t tolerate a lot of protein at one time. Stick with powders that have a lower-range protein content (10-15 grams per serving).
  6. Avoid gastrointestinal problems — Patients with irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance should choose powders that don’t contain lactose sugars, artificial sweeteners or dextrins/maltodextrins. If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, don’t choose powders that contain gluten.
  7. Stick to your budget — To save money, buy tubs of protein powder instead of ready-to-drink protein shakes which are more expensive because they’re convenient.

RELATED: 7 Tips to Power Up with Protein

Get the most from your protein powder

Here are a few things to consider:

  • To recover after exercise, an athlete or avid exerciser should consume protein within 60 minutes of a workout. That’s when your muscles are most responsive to the use of protein for the repair and growth process.
  • To control your weight, it’s best to consume a steady supply of protein at each meal and snack to help keep you full.

Although there’s no magic number for how much protein to consume at one time, it’s best to aim for at least 3 ounces of protein per meal.

Boost the taste of your shakes

Each protein powder has a unique taste, depending on the ingredients and protein source. A lot of companies use fillers or flavor enhancers designed by food scientists to create flavors beyond the standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

To improve the taste of the protein shakes you make, mix your protein powders with milk or a milk alternative (as opposed to water) to produce a creamier milkshake-like texture.

Create your own flavor enhancers by mixing in one serving of fruit or even a tablespoon of peanut butter.

More Information
Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment Guide

The Protein Power Diet was created by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades. The diet is based on our genetic ties to paleolithic man, and proposes that the healthiest human diet is one which most closely follows what paleolithic man would have eaten.

The main goal of the diet is to restore health and well being through the avoidance of modern processed foods, specifically foods made from grain, sugar and for some, dairy products. The authors believe that avoiding these types of foods will go a long way toward healing a leaky gut, reducing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, and increasing HDL cholesterol so that the ratio of HDL to Triglycerides moves closer to the ideal measurement of one.

The plan progresses linearly, starting with fairly intense changes, then relaxing as time goes on. You start at:

  1. The Intervention level, followed by
  2. The Transition level and once you’ve achieved your health and weight goals, you move to
  3. The Maintenance level to maintain your new health and fitness levels.

You can also choose from three different levels of committment to the plan and restriction of problem foods:

  1. Hedonist – greatest reward health wise with the least effort and diet adjustments
  2. Dilettante- middle of the road – greater health benefits with a little more effort.
  3. Purist – the strictest regimen for maximum health and fitness results. This plan is closest to a true paleolithic diet in that it avoids all grain, sugars and dairy, and recommends that all meats and vegetables be organic and naturally grown.

Here are some of the most important terms and concepts introduced in the Eades’ books:

  • ECC: Effective Carbohydrate Count. This is basically the same as net carbs, in that it’s the total carb count of a food minus the fiber count.
  • Minimum Protein Requirement: This is a calculated number and ranges from 20 grams of protein per meal for a small, short woman to 46 grams of protein per meal for a tall, large man. This translates to about 3.5 ounces of meat, fish or eggs, or poultry up to about 7 ounces per meal for a large man.

The Protein Power diet is a great example of a ketogenic diet plan and offers the same benefits of increasing saturated fat consumption and decreasing carbohydrate intake.

The Eades also recommend several supplements, getting enough sunshine exposure, avoiding the intake of too much iron and other concepts.

I highly recommend the Protein Power books. They do a good job of explaining medical concepts in a easy to understand way, and the books are quite funny at times.

  • The Protein Power Life Plan
  • Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low-Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health–in Just Weeks!
  • The 30-Day Low-Carb Diet Solution
  • The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook
  • The Low Carb CookwoRx Cookbook
  • Staying Power : Maintaining Your Low-Carb Weight Loss for Good

Dr. Mike Eades also maintains a nice blog here.

All of my books are available in electronic PDF, and now in paperback on Amazon!

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