Most of us equate the word diet with calorie reduction. This is understandable, since most diet marketing is relentlessly focused on offering consumers low-calorie options.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking is categorically wrong. The simple fact that any nutritionist will verify is that everyone is on
a diet. Even those who do not wish, or do not need, to lose weight are on a diet, as are those who are increasing their weight. Dieting has nothing to do with calorie reduction, and everything to do with calories choices. The foods you ‘choose’ to eat determine the type of diet you are on.
Indeed, to the digestive system and the intestines, a candy bar and a stalk of celery are neither seen as junk food nor diet food. They are both seen as simply food. The candy bar leads to a rapid glycemic reaction and the production of fat cells. The celery does not. Still, the body does not label one as junk and the other as diet food. In fact, everything that the body ingests, it tries to use in the best way that it can.
However, outside the neutral intelligent internal body systems, the term diet persists in our often rather misguided external world of advertising, marketing, and diet plans. As such, we can group diets into two categories: deliberate and accidental.
Deliberate diets are designed with specific requirements, such as those engineered to lose weight, to gain weight, and to maintain weight. Deliberate diets are typically what people refer to when they use the catchall term ‘diet’. This is in contrast to the other kind of diet that is called the ‘accidental diet’. Accidental diets have no requirements, and march to a simple chant: eat whatever, whenever, and the body will take care of itself.
However, despite the fact that there are two terms for diets – deliberate and accidental – there is a denominator that unifies them both: protein. All diets, even those that are accidental, require protein.
Protein, and the amino acids that comprise protein, are essential for life itself. Every system within the body depends, directly or indirectly, on protein. In fact, because protein regulates hormones, some cases of depression or anxiety are actually instigated and perpetuated by either a lack of protein, or the body’s inability to fortify its neurological system with this critical macro-nutrient.
Yet for those on a diet — and that includes everyone — the importance of protein is more pragmatic. Many deliberate diets such as the Atkins™ diet and the South Beach Diet™ restrict carbohydrates, while other restrict fats. That leaves protein. Protein is the common link between all nutritionally-sound diets. But is it also the missing link? Or, is protein readily accessible and readily present in the foods we eat?
Oddly, most American meals and snacks are protein deficient. Indeed, complete protein is absent from 6 of the top 10 foods eaten in the US, and absent from all 10 of the most popular snacks (see chart at end of article). This shortage of protein in the American diet refers both to the absolute amount of protein, which is recommended to be a minimum of 50 grams per day, and the kind of protein as well. The healthiest protein is a “complete protein”, which includes all 19 amino acids. However, even people who are ingesting 50 grams of protein may not be eating complete protein. As such, these people are sometimes unwittingly suffering from some form of protein malnourishment, and experience symptoms that include drowsiness, digestive problems, emotional disorders, and other adverse physiological effects.
So to achieve a balanced diet — regardless of the diet regimen – an appropriate level of complete protein must be present in each meal. This, of course, is easier said than done for most time-starved people. Regrettably, these people are more than time-starved; they are oftentimes macro-nutrient starved, as well.
Pennsylvania-based Protica Research has developed a protein beverage to meet the protein needs of busy consumers, dieters, diabetics, students and others. Profect® is an advanced beverage that supplies 25 grams of protein in less than 3 fluid ounces. It is packaged in an unbreakable test-tube-shaped vial and can be consumed in 2 or 3 seconds. Akin to a multivitamin, Profect can be taken immediately before a snack or a meal to fortify it with 50% of the US RDI of protein and the complete spectrum of water-soluble vitamins.
Profect can turn an otherwise “empty-calorie” snack into a complete meal. Its macro-nutrient and micro-nutrient profile fills the nutritional void found in most meals and snacks. It does this by combining with the carbohydrates and fats generally present in most foods and thereby completing the ‘nutritional trifecta’ required by the body for nourishment.
Of course, this is just the first step. A truly healthy diet must also understand how to properly eat the other members of the macro-nutrient kingdom, including fats and carbohydrates. Actually, since so many diets revolve around the fluctuation of carbohydrates and fats, it is essential to understand how to properly consume these two sources of body fuel in order to achieve optimal health. Yet which fats and which carbohydrates reign supreme? Which ones add weight, and which ones actually help the body’s metabolism function more effectively? The answers to these questions will be eye opening to most dieters, and they will form the dieting cornerstone for many consumers. You will find the answers in the second part of this two-part article entitled ‘The Macro-nutrient Balancing Act’. If you do not have a link to the next article, you can find ‘The Macro-nutrient Balancing Act’ on Protica’s web site at protica.com/publications
Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. Information on Protica is available at http://www.protica.com