High-protein dieting began decades ago.
It is represented by the Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Park Avenue, Perricone and Stillman diets.
These are the diets that celebrities endorse
These weight-loss programs work by tricking the body into a starvation state and depriving it of carbohydrates and the enjoyment of those foods.
Nutritionaly, high diets are designed to cause weight loss.
Various authors stake out new ground by putting their own particular metabolic spin on some nuance.
In the end, these diets help overweight people loose weight.
The authors offer complicated explanations as to how and why their approach works and use terms like eicosanoids, leptin-releasors, steroid stimulators, hormone-modulators in their rationales.
Although it has a high protein content, Paleo diets do not restrict carbohydrates and therefore are not grouped with the high protein school
The original high-protein diet can be traced back to Ancient Greece and the first Olympic athlete.
The Greek Olympian diet was built on enormous quantities of protein, given to athletes in the form of red meat.
Athletes were fed this food, not because it increased muscle mass but rather because it made them more aggressive, primitive, powerful.
Exactly the attributes their handlers believed best prepared them for competition.
Low-carbohydrate dieting dates back to the 19th century when an English undertaker followed the advice of Dr. William Harvey who recommended that he restrict his sugar intake.
The undertaker consequently lost 50 pounds in one year and Dr Harvey reported his findings to the British medical authorities who immediately attacked his approach.
This approach is still being attacked.
Not because it doesn’t accomplish weight loss because it does.
But because, like every other diet, it only works for the individual whose metabolic needs are best managed by the foods permitted in the diet.
What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another.
The modern high-protein diet was originally pioneered around the turn of the twentieth century and fallen in and out of favor ever since.
One of their earliest proponents of high protein diets was Irwin Maxwell Stillman M.D.
He authored a series of diet books including The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet. All told, an estimated 20 million dieters have, according to him, followed his advice.
Included in this group was Karen Carpenter who died from anorexia nervosa in 1983, after presumably ingesting ipecac, an emetic that induces vomiting.
Dr. Maxwell argued that the high number of calories needed to breakdown proteins could produce weight loss and called this the specific dynamic action of protein.
The Stillman diet allows an unlimited amount of meat, fish, eggs, low-fat cheese, coffee, tea, and diet soda.
Stillman further recommended that these foods be divided into six servings a day instead of the customary three.
Bread, vegetables, fruit, alcohol, sugar, butter, fats and oils are banned but eight glasses of water per day were required to “flush out the ketones” Stillman is sn extreme ketogenic diet.
It is also a high calorie diet since there are no limits placed on the amount of food allowed.
Almost all of its calories are derived from protein.
Despite its ability to produce rather rapid weight loss, the Stillman program is essentially an extremely unhealthy diet with vitamin and antioxidant inefficiencies, causing free radical damage and constipation as side effects.
High Protein Science
Diets that limit carbohydrate intake are called low carbohydrate, high protein, very low carbohydrate, high fat or ketogenic diets.
They all operate on the same set of metabolic pathways; they simulate starvation.
High protein diets are based on making carbohydrates scarce in the body.
And by restricting the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, the dieter achieves just that
The weight loss that occurs is due to tricking the body’s metabolic engine into following starvation mode metabolism.
Starvation metabolism throws a monkey wrench into the body’s metabolic machinery.
The result of which is to cause a logjam in the citric acid cycle due to an inadequate amount of four-carbon, citric acid or Krebs intermediates.
The logjam causes a buildup of acetyl-CoA molecules, which are two-carbon molecules needed to keep the cycle running.
Since the two-carbon compounds can’t be burned without adequate supply of four-carbon intermediates, they effectively shut down the enzymes needed by the citric acid cycle.
In recreating the conditions of starvation, the body intentionally represses the formation of citric acid intermediates and their enzymes.
This down regulation compromises the integrity of the dieter’s metabolic system.
Once glucose breakdown stalls, it clogs up the elaborate energy cycle that Nature evolved to meet the needs of active muscles.
This forces muscles to rely on fatty acid oxidation to meet all its energy needs.
Dr. Robert Atkins, Barry Sears PhD., Dr. Nicholas Perricone and Dr. Arthur Agatston have all promoted their own version of a high protein or carbohydrate restricted diet.
They differ only in the amount and type of carbohydrates they permit. Atkins for example, recommends “only enough carbohydrates to offset ketosis”. While Sears randomly allows ‘good’ fruits, grains and vegetables and bans ‘bad’ ones. Agatston of South Beach fame, recognizes the importance of antioxidants and includes them in his program.
Perricone relies on antioxidants to both promote weight loss and prevent wrinkles.
All of these diets achieve an equivalent weight loss among obese and overweight people.
These diets above all else, are really formulated for unhealthy people and are only beneficial to them. Obese dieters achieve significant fat reduction in a very short period of time. When however, slightly overweight dieters are exposed to those same starvation conditions, the result is less dramatic. And when regular exercise is added in to the mix, the results are downright harmful. Exercise and high protein diets are antagonistic to each other. As pointed out, all of these diets are actually based on restricting carbohydrate intake rather than increasing protein consumption. Their objective is simply to lose weight. They achieve this through the metabolic breakdown of the body’s fat stores and to a lesser extent, its protein reserve inside of muscles. Exercise and High Protein Diets Healthy people who are interested in losing only a small amount of weight, ten to fifteen percent of their body weight for example, should never attempt to lose this weight through a combination of intense exercise and carbohydrate restricted diet. In fact, a black box warning, similar to the one required for dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, should be mandated for the books, foods and seminars that recommend high protein diets to athletes. This label should point out the dangers that high protein diets pose to people who exercise. The American diet with its cheap supply of meat and fat is unhealthy. Its pattern of eating runs counter to Nature’s design. It clearly provides more than enough protein and calories but is grossly deficient in providing the antioxidants and phytonutrients essential to health. These compounds allow athletes to neutralize the unhealthy effect of exercise. Because they lack antioxidants, high protein diets are prescriptions for arthritis, fatigue, and premature aging. Antioxidants are needed to balance free radicals. Antioxidants are not found in meat. Nature provided animals with plants to provide these compounds. Plant products fuel life and prevent disease. The primary nutrient that plants synthesize are carbohydrates. They best fuel activity. But it is its library of phytonutrients that are needed to protect cell membranes by quenching free radicals. More free radicals are created at the completion of exercise than at any other time in life. The reason high protein diet are a bad choice for athletes is due to their effect on metabolism and cell membrane maintenance. Lack of carbohydrates in the blood of exercising athletes promotes muscle fatigue. In addition, since antioxidants are only found embedded in the fibers of carbohydrates, when this nutrient is missing, free radicals are able to damage and alter cell membrane receptors. Damaged cells initiate the production of prostanoids which results in inflammation. When these events are localized in joints they cause arthritis, or if it occurs in tendons it produces tendonitis. In either case, the athlete will develop restricted and less powerful movement. Athletes and High Protein Diets Athletes who follow a low-carbohydrate diet fail to safeguard the metabolic processes that fuel exercise. By not incorporating enough antioxidants in their diet, the free radicals produced as a consequence of exercise can never be neutralized. This initiates damage to subcellular components like mitochondria , ultimately causing the cell to lose function. Athletes who maintain high antioxidant levels and fuel stores will perform longer and recover quicker than athletes who maintain high protein levels. High protein diets promote fatigue, inflammation and the buildup of nitrogen wastes. These are the negative effects experienced by athletes who diet on protein. A healthy diet does not mean low-protein. A moderate amount of protein, say 20% of calories, is about right. People who regularly exercise should avoid very high protein diets since it is doubtful that the energy demands of high performance athletes can be met by any diet that restricts carbohydrates. Diets that restrict complex carbohydrates, provide too little fiber in its meals. What’s s astonishing is that after so many studies have demonstrated the importance of fruits, vegetables and fiber in preventing disease, the number of advocates and followers of high protein diets have actually increased. Even more astonishing is the number of people who follow and listen to their advice, including celebrities and athletes who undergo one on sessions and pay up to $1000 for that privilege. High protein diets lack important micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioflavonoids) that are embedded in the fibers of plants. These compounds and the fiber they are part of, are packaged with the carbohydrates of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There are two main reasons why high protein diets are bad for people who exercise. First, the diet is missing carbohydrates, the nutrient that best fuels exercise. It also denies the body Nature’s medicine in the form of plants and all the healing potential they contain. And secondly, too much protein places stress on the kidney and prematurely ages the brain. Missing Carbohydrate Colorful, complex carbohydrates are Nature’s tools of healing. Without them or too little of them, there is a risk to health. Athletes who exercise daily and follow a high protein diet must find other ways to replenish the depleted glycogen that is normally stored in muscle. The more aerobic the exercise, the more that glycogen is used and the more it needs to be replenished. Only carbohydrates can refill or reload glycogen stores. The failure to reload carbohydrates following intense exercise is the leading cause of fatigue among athletes, especially those who exercise on back-to-back days. The ideal replenishment of glycogen is through a colorful complex carbohydrate meal, eaten within the first two hours following exercise. Without adequate carbohydrate loading, the athlete is forced to expend energy to manufacture glucose. While this is the engine behind the high protein, weight loss scheme, it is detrimental to athletic performance, endurance and recovery. Without colorful carbohydrates, an arsenal of antioxidants can't be mobilized thus allowing free radical attacks to go unabated while inflammation rages on. If these athletes insist on following a high protein diet, they must then supplement their diet with mega-doses of antioxidants since they are most assuredly, not getting them from their meals. Good luck in finding all of them in one formula. It is clear that athletes are only hurting themselves by following this fad. When carbohydrates are missing in the diet, the metabolic machinery that drives cell activity is forced to follow a pathway that causes the metabolism of fat and the production of ketones. The body normally runs on glucose to fuel activity. When there is a a lack of carbohydrates in the diet, the body reacts by converting amino acids into glucose. The end result of this shift, is a diuresis or loss of water. The water is lost as urine as the body rid itself of urea, the end-product formed from the metabolic breakdown of amino acids. More urea is formed and more water lost, due to the increased metabolism of protein. The toxic nitrogen of amino acids are converted by the liver into urea. Urea is then forwarded on to the kidney for removal. Mote water is needed to remove the increased urea that results from high protein diets. Water loss is thus a compensation for the body’s new reliance on fat and protein as its prime source of fuel. So much so that for slightly overweight athletes, much of the actual weight loss attributed to high protein diets, is really the result of this diuresis. The loss of water that occurs with low-carbohydrate diets is a side effect of converting from a glycogen-based metabolism to one that metabolizes amino acids and fats. This causes a form of ketosis that forces the body to synthesize glucose in order to maintain blood glucose levels. This conversion produces significant water loss. Water loss provides cerebral satisfaction for scale watchers. Dieters who need to lose only a small percentage of their weight ( 5-10% ) are able to achieve most of this loss, in a relatively short time, at least as measurements on a scale. They then view their program as a success even though much of the loss was not due to lost fat. If this illusion is allowed to continue, it will actually lead to significant loss of lean body mass and cause a chronic depletion of muscle glycogen stores. This is the prime reason why many athletes who follow a low carbohydrate diet, fatigue early. It is not the increased protein that is at fault but rather the absence of carbohydrates. Excess Protein Thus far we have a loss in performance and early fatigue, arthritis, high fat and cholesterol levels, a lack of essential phytonutrients and an increase in chronic disease as the result of a diet that is deficient in carbohydrates. There are other reasons that should convince athletes that high protein diets are a loser’s diet and those involve the consequences of too much protein in the diet. While there is an absolute need for quality protein, excessive protein is counterproductive for people who exercise. Excess protein increases the risk to their health. Nitrogen is contained in every amino acid. Proteins are built of chains of amino acids, which are converted back into individual amino acids during digestion. During metabolism, the nitrogen must be removed from the amino group and is first be converted into ammonia (NH3). Ammonia is then converted into urea. Under the stress of high protein and high nitrogen content, the kidneys are forced to filtrate more waste. The increased protein in this type diet increases the workload and stress on the kidneys, and over time may lead to kidney disease (gout, stones and possibly failure). High protein diets diminish exercise performance and cause extra work for the kidneys. High protein amounts also stimulate the buildup of ammonia in the brain where amino acids are ‘preferentially oxidized’ for energy. This is not healthy. Yet this is the rationale behind carbohydrate restricted diets and why they are able to produce weight loss. High protein diet advocates never considered its effect in the brain where ammonia can interact with neurons and transmitters. There is a common misconception that a diet requires animal products, in order to meet the body’s requirement for protein. This is a fallacy. While animal products add flavor and taste to meals they are not the only source for quality protein. Plants may contain proteins in lesser amounts than animal sources but they don’t come packaged with an animal’s unhealthy compounds (hormones, saturated fat and cholesterol). Plant sources like legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds and even vegetables provide a treasure chest of all 20 amino acids including the essential 8, that the human body can not manufacture, Although some individual plant sources are deficient in at least one of them, this is easily circumvented with multiple sources. In fact, vegetarians find it no problems to satisfy all their protein needs from plant sources. High protein foods (red meat, dairy products, and eggs) are normally found with saturated fat and cholesterol. By increasing the amount of protein in the diet, these dieters may unwittingly be increasing their saturated fat and cholesterol levels. High protein dieters may therefore be increasing their risk of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease and contributing to Americas’s nutritional epidemic. High protein meals contain a significantly higher amount of fat, and since this higher fat content is high in linoleic acid, the omega-6 fatty acid, as opposed to the more healthy omega-3 fatty acid, there is a shift towards converting arachidonic acid to an inflammatory prostaglandins. It is not the amounts of omega-6 fats that are important, it’s is their relationship to the amount of omega-3 fats in the blood that matters. High omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, and therefore high protein diets promote inflammation. The Atkins Rationale The Atkins Diet is the most studied and analytical of the high protein diets. Atkins is the prototypical, high protein diet. The Atkins plan is very useful for obese individuals but is not recommended for people who exercise. Atkins proponents point to the huge amounts of weight its adherents have lost, and argue that this proves its validity as a true weight loss diet. Its critics on the other hand, claim the lost weight is due to the calorie restriction consequence of the diet while others claim the loss is just water. In either case they claim much of the lost weight is regained. While the Atkins approach is not usually categorized as a calorie restriction plan, it does restrict food choices. By severely limiting the foods that a dieter can choose from, which Atkins does, there is a natural inclination to eat less food. Atkins advocates consider this amount of weight lost as negligible and dismiss it as a contributing factor. Atkins diet is good for severely overweight people. But once these dieters have reduced their weight enough, they should increase their exercise regimen. And at this point they need to switch to the colorful diet described in The Athlete’s Solution. The loss of weight by obese individuals can directly improve their health despite the molecular misgivings of high protein diets. When carried out under the supervision of a physician, the advantages of following a low calorie, ketogenic diet, far outweighs the potential adverse effects associated with a high fat diet. For the obese, a low carbohydrate diet makes metabolic sense. For athletes it does not. Regardless of the type of weight lost, obese people will benefit from the loss, even though many will regain the weight. Dieters with high triglyceride levels should avoid Atkins. Dr Robert Atkins developed his nutritional approach during the 1960s. He had gained considerable weight during medical school and knew enough about health to recognize that his excess weight was unhealthy. The result became Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, the book that paved the way for a series of books, seminars and meals. In developing his diet, Atkins considered his own eating habits as the main cause of his obesity and concluded that it was the amount of refined carbohydrates, (sugar, and flour) and insulin releasing foods that was responsible. Proponents of Atkins claim these foods are responsible for the rise in metabolic disorders of the 21st century. On this point, Atkins is probably right. His more controversial point was that saturated fat was not a factor in nutritional diseases. On this point he is dead wrong. Dr. Atkins rejected the concept of the USDA food pyramid, especially since the original graphic grouped all carbohydrates, both refined and complex as equals and because the pyramid demonized fat, especially since his program allowed unlimited amounts of it. The Atkins approach restricts the amount of carbohydrates in foods in order to convert the body's metabolism from one that burns sugar to one that burns stored body fat. The Atkins approach offers a scientifically valid program for severely overweight and obese people. Like all high protein diet, Atkins is not suitable for people who exercise. Atkins Methodology Atkins divided his program into phases; induction, weight loss, and maintenance. During the induction phase carbohydrates are severely limited to no more than 20 grams per day for 14 consecutive days. This is the period in which the most rapid weight loss occurs. Following this induction phase, the weight loss phase begins as carbohydrates are added in 5-gram increments until the dieter reaches their critical carbohydrate level, a theoretical, metabolic balance point. It is at this point in protein and carbohydrate metabolism, where there is both the loss of weight and the monitored absence of ketones. Atkins recommends a dipstick (Ketostix), which are small chemically reactive strips, to monitor and detect ketones in the urine. These let the dieter recognize when they enter ketosis, when fat burning coincides with ketones in the urine. Ketones are molecules that result from the incomplete oxidation of fats. Presence of ketones in the urine (ketonuria) requires, according to the Atkins school, more carbohydrates in the diet until the urine is free of ketones. The Atkins maintenance phase attempts to prevent its dieters from returning to their previous eating habits and regaining their lost weight. This represents the greatest challenge to the success of this diet since most dieters fail to maintain their loss and end up reverting back to their past behavior. Ketone Metabolism High-protein diets are considered ketogenic diets since they use fat as an energy substrate instead of glucose. Fat metabolism produces ketones. Ketones are compounds that contain a cabonyl group (C=O), which is a molecule containing a double bound between carbon and oxygen. This structure causes a ketone to be a polar, water soluble compound, which behaves as an acid in the solution. High protein diets depend on the beta-oxidation of fatty acids instead of glycolysis, or the breakdown of sugar, as the body’s primary method of energy formation. Fatty acid oxidation results in elevated levels of acetyl-CoA (the 2-carbon product of both glucose and fat metabolism). The increased level of acetyl-CoA must be converted to ketone bodies since the Krebs enzymes have been shut down due to the lack of carbohydrates in the diet. Ketone bodies represent the end products of fatty acid degradation (acetoacetic acid, acetone and beta-hydroxybutyric acid). Ketone bodies are formed in the liver and transported by the blood to skeletal and cardiac muscle for use as a source of energy or what is known as an oxidative substrate. The oxidation of ketones in muscle mitochondria releases their stored energy to power the movement of actin and myosin thereby causing the muscle to contract. Ketone bodies accumulate in body tissues and fluids when the rate of ketone production exceeds the body's ability to burn them. An excess of ketone bodies leads to a state of ketosis. High levels of ketones in body tissues characterize ketosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when the excess of ketone bodies in body tissues, spills into the urine. Since ketones behave as acids (propensity to carry a negative charge) when they are excreted as part of the urine, they carry with them, positively charged potassium or sodium ions. In the Atkins program, these potassium and sodium salts of ketone bodies are monitored with the aid of a dipstick. Their presence in the urine (ketonuria) indicate too much emphasis on fatty acid metabolism and to little carbohydrate metabolism, the result of inadequate citric acid cycle intermediates due to not enough carbohydrates in the diet. These metabolic intermediaries (oxaloacetic acid, etc.) are required to react with acetyl-CoA, the product of fat degradation, to prevent their conversion into ketones. The absence of ketone bodies in the urine indicates that the amount of fatty acid oxidation is properly balanced by the presence of citric acid cycle intermediates. When ketone bodies are excreted in the form of potassium and sodium salts, they cause an increase in water loss as well as a loss in these electrolytes. This is one component of the weight that is lost. Unfortunately, to keep the weight off requires a continual reliance on the oxidation of fatty acids with more ketone bodies requiring removal. High protein diets are not well tolerated by athletes but do benefit the obese and severely overweight people. For even when weight loss is achieved, it is quickly regained. But more importantly is the lack phytochemicals its foods contain, this causes free radical damage and inflammation. Avoidance of high protein diets is a no--brainer for athletes. Prolonged high levels of ketone bodies can acidify the blood and lead to excessive water and electrolyte loss and other metabolic imbalances. This is the result of excessive fat oxidation and are similar to those found in starvation. Weight Loss From High Protein Diets High protein diets are the latest craze in America. Over the past four decades, low-carbohydrate diets have fueled debate among nutritionist, physicians and dieters, and despite their arguments, high protein diets such as Atkins, Stillman, Zone and South Beach, continue to grow in popularity. High protein diets offer a quick fix to lose weight, much of which is quickly regained. In fact, recent studies support, at least in the short run, the claim that low carbohydrate diets produce more weight loss than conventional dieting. In these studies, dieters lost more weight on low-carbohydrate plans than those who followed a low-fat approach. At least when they were evaluated after 6 months. After one year on the plans there was no discernable difference. Despite these findings, high protein remain extremely popular with no end to the number of gurus who espouse their virtues or the number of desperate disciples who follow them. For dieters who lose up to 10% of their body weight, their loss is more due to a drop in stored muscle glycogen and its associated water than it is to fat loss. For athletes, this is the worst possible kind of weight to lose since without muscle glycogen, fatigue occurs. If this weren’t enough of a reason to abandon this approach, high protein diets do not provide enough fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Therefore, anyone contemplating a high protein regimen should reconsider. And if they insist on following these schemes, dietary supplements containing essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to combat the metabolic stress induced by high protein diets are essential. There are other negative consequences of following high protein diets that do not occur with other diets. These effects are based on the production and need to remove ketones. The inability of the body to oxidize all the ketone bodies causes a rise in their concentration within blood. This can cause a serious metabolic acidosis with fatigue and nausea as side effects. High protein diets result in an increase in ketone body formation exactly because this is the intended consequence of its carbohydrate restriction. This ketosis is due to the lack of metabolic intermediaries required for their complete burning. This form of ketosis is called benign dietary ketosis and is relatively safe compared to the diabetic form. Diabetes causes a similar increase in ketone body formation since carbohydrate metabolism is impaired due to insulin dysfunction. The diabetic form of ketosis can be severe and life threatening. All of the high protein diet predict this increase in ketones and offer ways ways around their danger. Atkins for example, skirts ketosis by gradually increasing the carbohydrate component in the diet until the dieter’s urine is free of ketone bodies, measured by means of dipstick. Their success in his weight reduction scheme, he attributed to the repressed insulin response produced as a consequence of low carbohydrates in the diet. Also according to Atkins, high protein/low carbohydrate diets produce weight loss due to a specific dynamic action of protein (the high amount of calories needed to metabolize amino acids) and the anorexic (loss of appetite) effect of being in a state of ketosis. South Beach Diet The biggest winner in the high protein low carbohydrate craze is the South Beach diet, authored by cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston. Dr. Agatston developed this diet for his heart patients based upon meals filled with good carbohydrates and healthy fats and eliminating bad and unhealthy ones. Dr. Agatston agrees with most diet programs in that the elimination of high glycemic carbohydrates should be a high priority for someone who wants to lose weight. He rightly points to these rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates as foods which creates a resistance to insulin. This syndrome is an impairment in insulin's ability to bind to cell membranes, which can then direct the cell to metabolize sugar. In addition, Agatston agrees with most physicians that saturated fat and trans-fat increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The South Beach Diet comprises three phase. The first one is of two weeks duration with very low carbohydrate intake. Agatston claims that this turns off the biological switch that produces the craving for unhealthy foods. Complex grains and moderate glycemic starches are then reintroduced, which according to Dr. Agatston, does not re-stimulate the aforementioned craving. He minimizes the amount of saturated fats and trans-fat and recommends omega- 3 oils to improve cardiovascular health. Initial ketosis aside, this diet offers promise for those who insist on a high protein approach yet not prepared to abandon their favorite carbohydrate dishes. South Beach diet gains compliance by allowing enough breads, pasta and rice after the initial two weeks. Also permitted are fruits, vegetables and nuts. While this is a much more palatal solution for losing weight than the other low carbohydrate diets, it is not recommended to athletes. The Zone Sports Diet Barry Sears Ph.D., author of The Zone Diet, offers a modified version of the Atkins, high protein diet. Sears offsets the ketosis of carbohydrate-restricted diets, by permitting a small amount of carbohydrates in his plan. Sears recommends that carbohydrates provide forty percent of total calories. Atkins by comparison, allows only a paltry ten. Sears does not distinguish between sedentary people and athletes. He actually claims his diet will improve athletic performance, help people lose weight and prevent chronic disease. According to The Athlete’s Solution, at least sixty-five percent of an athlete’s calories should be derived from carbohydrates. The Zone Diet recommends that thirty percent of calories gould be derived from fat, thirty percent from protein and forty percent from carbohydrate. Barry Sears’s diet is based on strict compliance and adherence to his regimented recommendations. It should be pointed out that most sports nutritionist believe carbohydrates should be the major fuel supplier for endurance athletes. This is primarily due to protein’s role as a muscle builder and carbohydrate’s ability to provide the most rapid source of energy. The least favored fuel among nutritionist is fat, the most energy dense nutrient in food. Sears’s Zone diet is high in fats because fats provide the essential fatty acids required for the formation of eicosanoids. According to Sears, eicosanoid balance is responsible for the multitude of diseases and chronic conditions afflicting humans. Also according to Sears, an increase in insulin production and an unfavorable balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats cause bad eicosanoid production, which drives the individual out of “the zone”. Eicosanoids are hormone like substances that mediate local responses to injury and inflammation. V