Most of the time, the only difference between the fittest people on earth and the most decrepit...comes down to two things: diet, and exercise...In the end, health is everything. If you don’t have your health, literally nothing else on earth matters...it should be of the utmost importance to every single person to maximize their health potential - Ted Naiman MD
Photo credit: the lovely and übertalanted Susanne Stein. Our nutrition challenge participants are taught the importance of protein intake.
Prioritizing Protein over Energy: introducing the P:E Diet or What I Learned in 2019
by Ginger Sladky
Humans approach optimal body composition when they target nutrient density, prioritizing foods with optimal protein to energy ratio (they are nutrient dense). I have seen this in action, and owe my deeper appreciation to Marty Kendall's Nutrient Optimiser Challenge and Dr. Ted Naiman whose charts/memes and explanations are used by Marty throughout the Challenge. Dr. Naiman has the ability to communicate complex topics using relatively uncomplicated memes (link to his new book he published together with William Shewfelt - yes, otherwise known as Brody the Red Power Ranger).
Dr. Ted Naiman explains that the amount of energy that humans consume is inversely related to the protein percentage of the food they are eating. Dr. Ted Naiman's theory on the importance of Protein to Energy ratio in satiation is pictured to the left. We have to pay attention to how much protein and minerals we are ingesting versus how much chemical energy (carbs and fat). It is when we exceed our carbohydrate and fat storage ability that we end up with energy toxicity.
Dr. Naiman suggests maintaining protein grams higher than combined net carbs + fat grams. Whole foods allow that to happen, and committed consumption of those highest in nutrient density prevents energy excesses guaranteed by processed food consumption. Because modern ultra-processed foods are protein and mineral deficient, we have to overeat them to get all the protein and minerals our bodies need. When we eat foods with higher percentage protein in relation to total calories, we get satiety.
An entire animal and an entire plant have pretty optimal ratios of protein and energy, but stripping out the energy portion of the plant (for example) leaves us with sugar, flour and oil. If we ingest that, because it is protein and mineral deficient, we have to overeat it to get all the protein and minerals we need and we end up with energy toxicity (at the heart of the modern epidemic of chronic disease). A key question becomes how much energy we are eating in order to get our protein.
Food choice is everything. What we choose to eat determines how much we have (are driven) to eat. Food choices can therefore be manipulated to help control appetite. Focusing on nutrition density results in automatic reduction in calories, and the opposite is also true. Once nutrition density is optimized it becomes difficult to stuff more calories in despite the fact we are at just 50-60% of a caloric level that failed to satisfy us in the past.
The Nutrient Optimiser algorithm provides nutritional guidance tailored to an individual's current situation including their current diet, preferences, habits, weight, body fat, blood sugars; and their goals including:
- athletic performance
- diabetes management
- Therapeutic ketosis
- lean bulking
- weight loss & blood sugar control
- aggressive weight loss
<----------Here's an example of the kind of quality tips Marty Kendall provides to his Nutrient Optimisers. Joining this facebook group (yet another he founded) is an excellent way to additionally be inspired by recipes featuring healthy, nutrient dense food choices. Detailed micro and macronutrient analysis are included to assist individuals with varied goals.
Dr. Naiman/Shewfelt critique limitations of all popular diets along with their strengths - look at the credit they give plant-based diets: "Eating more legumes such as lentils and soy, plus more green vegetables, is a massive upgrade in terms of protein to energy ratio. Tofu, textured vegetable protein, gluten, and all of the plant protein fake meats that vegans eat, while far from optimal, actually have an extremely high protein to energy ratio, especially compared to the Standard American Diet. If you ditch the refined carbs in a ‘junk food vegan’ diet, you will get some pretty amazing results with this highly restrictive plan"
Many more critical concepts needed to understand the science behind body and health optimization are inside the book! Naiman's Razor! The three hungers! The Protein "Over/Under"! M.E.A.L. for fat loss! I kept looking at illustrations and saying (out loud) "oh my gosh that is so true" and "that makes so much sense"!
So I'm not sure my review does these guys (Marty Kendall/Dr. Naiman&Shewfelt) enough justice for what they've done to move our understanding of optimal nutrition forward, but I hope it inspires you at least to follow these guys and listen to all they have to say. I only covered a tiny part of the nutrition-related insights - there's a whole section on fitness, but they are concepts with which many of us are already intimately familiar.
Probably for the regular person just trying to reduce their risk of disease and reclaim health (like your mom, your dad or grandmom), or even pursue body optimization (like you, your sister or your cousin), Dr. Ted Naiman's book is enough.
For nutrition specialists working with nutrition clients or for anyone wanting to dive deeper into the minutiae (whether simply for more justification, or wanting to support a disease condition with targeted nutritional support), after you buy Dr. Naiman's book, seriously consider enrolling in Nutrient Optimiser. It familiarizes you with optimal levels of micronutrients which feed into satiation and hunger, explains which are deficient in numerous disease states, and shows where all can be found in real food - here is where the future of health optimization can be found.
Check out our other Articles on Nutrition found Here!
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