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Protein Power

May 31, 2017

Just like Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories, this book by Michael R Eades and Mary Dan Eades, Protein Power, has a title that kept me from picking it up for far too long. It sounds like a meatheady, bro-sciencey guide to feeding yourself for maximum biceps growth. I don’t need a book like that. (At least not another!)

Turns out that, also like Taubes’s masterpiece, Protein Power is a book I very much wanted to read.

The Eadeses published Protein Power in 1996 (as near as I can tell). It’s like a cross between the practical diet advice of Dr. Atkins from the 70s and again in the 90s and the research-heavy medical context Gary Taubes became infamous for expounding in the 00s. The diet plan is very much a low-carb one, emphasizing “enough” protein, and I guess implying that you should feel free to eat enough fat to feel full after that. There are good lists of meal plans and net-carb schedules. And, though the latest research has maybe tweaked a few details in the last twenty years, if you wanted a single, solid low-carb program to follow, this is probably the book for you.

And I more or less expected that much. But what made me decide to pick it up so early in my descent to the depths of the latest research on losing weight, when I have so many other books I’m interested in, was that Tim Ferriss credited Michael Eades with being one of the first to bring up the idea of insulin resistance as a major idea and to begin spreading it to the masses.

Tim was right. There in the opening chapters, the Drs Eades get right into it, and explain insulin sensitivity and resistance as well as anything I’ve read that’s been published in the decades since. What’s more, they’re already in 1996 explaining that low-carb isn’t strictly about the ketosis alone. That’s why I really, really wish I’d read this book so much earlier. As long as I’ve known about low-carb diets, I’ve felt like they’ve worked pretty well, but I’ve also been slightly worried about their sensibility because of the conflicting diet recommendations out there. And, honestly, it might always have taken something like Taubes’s deep research dive in Good Calories, Bad Calories to completely cure me of that ambivalence. But that combo of losing weight being largely about insulin sensitivity and ketosis not being strictly necessary for a low-carb diet are insights that I’ve only recently come to, and there they both are, described quite thoroughly in Protein Power. The flip side is that it makes the book nearly redundant for me, coming to it today, but I’m glad it’s been there all along.

But I say nearly because there is actually one tidbit the Eadeses cover briefly that I haven’t yet read anywhere else. They mention that the more weight a person loses, the more affected they start to become by lipoprotein lipase, which is activated by insulin and encourages fat cells to more stubbornly grow and hold on to their fat deposits. This is likely a big driver of weight loss plateaus and a reason it’s so hard to keep lost weight off. That’s about as much as they say about it. But considering my specific interest in getting to the bottom of why it’s so hard to lose a lot of weight or to lose weight multiple times, I now have a major lead to follow. Fingers crossed the last twenty years of nutrition research have left me something to find!

It’s also valuable to have become more aware of Michael Eades’s presence online, as I’ve done as a result of reading this book. Not only does he have an active blog where he engages in the knife fights of nutritional science, he’s also got a lot to say about intermittent fasting–something I’m also interested in–and is just generally a go-to resource of Tim Ferriss’s, which is about as solid an endorsement as I could imagine.

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