A couple of weeks ago, I received my copy of the latest book by Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades, The 6-Week Cure for the Middle Aged Middle. I finally got around to finishing it this week and started following the program a couple of days ago.
Well, to be honest, I’m almost following the program. More on that later.
In a nutshell, the book explains, in biochemical terms, why we tend to develop a big belly as we reach middle age and then spells out a program for shrinking it: For two weeks, you consume three specially-formulated protein shakes per day, plus one low-carb meal. No alcohol, no caffeine. For the next two weeks, you live almost exclusively on fatty meats, eggs and fish, plus small servings of non-starchy vegetables. Dairy is out. In the final two weeks, you can lighten up a bit on the restrictions, but it’s still a low-carb diet.
I saw a review of the book online that gives a nice summary, but then of course the writer had to run out and get comments from a few priests from The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living a Long and Healthy Life. Here are a few quotes:
Judith Stern, Sc. D., a nutrition professor at UC Davis and founder of the American Obesity Association …strongly discourages any plan that restricts fruits and vegetables. “Limiting any one food group is a bad idea. You can’t get all you need from a diet like this.”
So limiting any one food group is a bad idea, eh? I guess that explains why all the nutritionists are forever beating up on Dean Ornish for restricting fat intake to nearly zero – not to mention all the goofs who tell us we can get fit and healthy by eliminating all animal foods. And where does Judith Stern think my paleolithic Irish ancestors found fruits and vegetables in the winter? I’m pretty sure they managed to get by for months at a time without them, or I wouldn’t be here.
Most experts agree that a diet high in saturated fat and protein can be harmful for individuals at risk for heart disease.
Yup, most experts agree on that. Only trouble is, they’ve failed over and over to prove it, despite spending many years and million of dollars trying.
Dr. Neeraj advises patients with fatty liver disease to lose weight by decreasing their fat intake and increasing exercise. He encourages patients to consume a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
Oh, for cryin’ out loud … Drs. Eades and Eades cite evidence in their book that saturated fat actually protects your liver. If you want to give an animal a fatty liver, you feed it corn or fructose, not bacon and eggs. Was fatty liver disease common a hundred years ago, when Americans ate a lot more butter and lard? No, it wasn’t. But it’s very common now that we live on starch, vegetable oils and high fructose corn syrup.
In some comments I read on blog reviews, a few long-time fans of the Protein Power books complained that much of the material was familiar. Well, that’s true to an extent, but what did they expect? If you’re interested in nutrition and have read the previous books by Eades & Eades, as well as Taubes, Sears, Fallon, Carlson, etc., then of course you already know that natural fats are good for you and that carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, raise your insulin and promote fat storage.
Those concepts are covered in this book as well — and good thing, too. Most people still believe saturated fat clogs your arteries and don’t know diddly about what actually promotes fat storage. It’s been eight years since The Protein Power Lifeplan was published, so perhaps this book will find a whole new audience. Let’s hope.
And there is some new information in the book as well, including a detailed explanation of the differences between subcutaneous fat — the kind you can pinch up around your waist — and visceral fat — the stuff that accumulates in and around the organs inside your abdominal wall. Visceral fat is more metabolically active, and not in a good way. It promotes inflammation and heart disease, for starters.
It’s the visceral fat that the 6-Week Cure program is designed to flush out. I’m middle-aged and certainly have a bit of middle-aged middle in spite of being healthy overall, so after reading the book, I decided I may as well give the program a try. But like I said, I’m not following the book’s instructions religiously.
For one, I didn’t measure my girth in various standing and lying-down positions to determine how much of my fat is subcutaneous and how much is visceral. There’s a simple reason for this: I don’t care. I’ll probably lose some visceral fat, and I’ll probably lose some subcutaneous fat, too. Measuring the proportions isn’t going to change the results.
I did weigh myself at the gym so I’d have a reference point, but even that measurement is relative. I lift weights twice per week now, and as a result, I’ve been slowly getting heavier without getting any fatter. I finished my Fat Head diet at 194. After the saturated-fat pig-out I described at the end of the film, I was at 192.
Then I started lifting weights once per week using Fred Hahn’s slow-burn method and crept up to 208 over the next several months — a lot of the increase was in my legs, which got noticeably thicker. Then I tightened up on the carbs and went down to 200. Then I decided to lift weights twice per week and went up to 205, which is where I was on Tuesday. It’s not about weight for me; it’s about health and body composition.
For that reason, I also measured my belly around the fattest part, including the belly button and love handles. If I reduce that from the 41 inches it was on Tuesday, I’ll be happy … no matter what the scale says.
In addition to skipping some of the pre-diet measurements, I’ve also had to skip a couple of ingredients in my protein shakes. I couldn’t find DAG oil anywhere, and I don’t want to order it online. I also couldn’t find leucine tablets or powder, although leucine is listed as an ingredient for the whey protein mix I use in my shakes. It just doesn’t say how much. So I’m almost but not exactly drinking the protein shakes specified for weeks one and two.
And now for my biggest almost: the book instructs you to give up alcohol and caffeine for the first two weeks to help flush out your liver. I have no problem putting away the bottle of wine for a couple of weeks. But I will not, under any circumstances (short of a court order enforced by an armed guard), give up my morning coffee. I’ve tried before. It isn’t pretty.
Yes, I know it’s an addiction. I openly admit to being a caffeine freak. And trust me, it’s embarrassing to have the Red Cross call and say, “Mr. Naughton, we appreciate your generosity in giving blood, but the thing is, surgeons don’t appreciate it when their patients snap awake during a triple bypass.”
I’ll cut down on the coffee, but I won’t give it up, which means my weight-loss may be inhibited a bit. So be it. I just moved to a peaceful little town in Tennessee, and I don’t want to end up on the local news in a scene like this:
“Captain, captain! A moment, please … what can you tell us about the gunman?”
“We know he’s inside the building, somewhere there behind the counter, and he’s taken two employees and an espresso machine hostage.”
“Can you give us a description?”
“White male, around 50, balding, but with an attractively lean middle.”
“So we’re talking about someone with a non-toxic liver.”
“That’s right, because when your liver accumulates fat inside, it — hang on, looks like we got the perp on the phone. Yes, this is Captain Farley, is everyone okay in there? Does anyone need any food, or … huh? What the heck is a Power-Up Shake?”
So I’ll follow my almost version of the program and report back later. I hope the results are almost good.