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Isocaloric Diet Meal Plan
by Dan Duchaine
While it is possible to lose more than one pound per week through further calorie reduction or by increasing aerobics, you will lose some muscle along with the fat. On paper, your body will look as if the diet is working. The mirror, however, will tell a different story. Even a 5 percent change in calories or aerobics will cause muscle loss.
The first way to prevent muscle loss is to change the fat to carbohydrate ratio. In the Iso-Caloric Diet, these are changed to: 1/3 Protein 1/3 Fat and 1/3 Carbohydrate. Adjusting these ratios will cause faster fat loss. Although there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, I first discovered it the hard way through trial and error. No other combination worked.
At first, it seemed logical to try reducing calories further, but this caused too much muscle loss too quickly. Does increasing protein help maintain muscle mass? Nope, it doesn't. Increasing aerobics looks like a popular choice -- after all, gyms have lots of steppers and rowers and bikes, all occupied with well-meaning individuals. Aerobics must be good, right? Wrong! As a matter of fact, increased aerobics causes just as much muscle loss as calorie restriction.
After screwing up in so many other ways, I finally arrived at the 1/3 ratios. Most athletes won't be happy with this. They've been conditioned not to eat dietary fat. Besides, lowering carbohydrates increases hunger and anxiety for a while. However, eating lots of carbohydrates makes your metabolism unable to burn fat efficiently.
If you have patience and not too much fat to lose, you will probably get close to your goal with the traditional diet. The traditional diet will allow you to be relatively happy, sociable, energetic and feed your carbohydrate addiction.
When "close" isn't close enough, you need the Iso-Caloric Diet. Will you be hungrier? Only at first. Will your strength decrease? Again, only at first. Will you lose muscle? Less than you would with any of traditional diets.
In the Iso-Caloric Diet, we are once again concerned with the quality of the body's energy sources, not the quantity. Some people will object to eating a diet that is 1/3 fat. Fat is B-A-A-A-D, isn't it?
Fat isn't perfect, but it's all we have to work with. We can't decrease total calories because we don't want to lose muscle. The high carbohydrates of the traditional diet will need to change to either protein or fat. Exchanging the carbohydrates for protein won't work because not all of the amino acids can be converted into energy. Much of the amino acid content is excreted as urea, a waste product. Calorie for calorie, protein will not provide the same energy as carbohydrates. This is why high protein diets cause faster fat loss than high carbohydrate diets. Because protein has less usable energy, the body will strip down muscle to scavenge the energy-producing amino acids. Glutamine will be used first, then the branched-chain amino acids, then alanine.
If we can't eat protein, all that's left is fat. Eating more fat will also reduce insulin secretion and make the fat-burning energy pathways more efficient. In the presence of insulin, the body will not release stored fat for energy. Therefore, as dieters, we want to reduce insulin secretion.
Almost all fat -- saturated or not, essential or not -- will work in the Iso-Caloric Diet. Energy-wise, it doesn't matter. You could use MCTs, for that matter, but they're are not as much fun as an additional serving of oily fish, walnuts or avocado.
You would be shocked at how little fat you'll need to eat to increase fat calories by 23 percent. Salad and cooking oils don't take up much room. It doesn't take many avocados or walnuts to add a lot of calories. How about -- dare I say it -- peanut butter? Surely this isn't diet food.
Some people have asked me: “If the Iso-Caloric Diet is so superior to the traditional diet, why haven’t I heard of it?” Well, most people are used to something like the traditional low fat diet. It's easy to start, "believe" and follow. Each change in longstanding habits requires more discipline.
Why increase protein? Fatty foods usually contain protein. Eggs, fish, meat, and that slice of cheese you can finally eat all contain protein in addition to fat. Even peanut butter contains protein.
The Iso-Caloric Diet begins to solve a major problem in dieting (aside from hunger and anxiety): impatience. While the problem of impatience has not been completely solved, we've appeased it for now. Although there is a better diet plan to come, it is illuminating to examine the preliminary solutions to the dilemmas I've encountered in my years as a professional trainer.
The information presented is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding any suggestions and recommendations made.