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Beef up low carb diet for hypertension and weight loss: Protein power praised

Minus the bun, beef can enhance your weight loss.
Minus the bun, beef can enhance your weight loss.
Photo by Cindy Ord

In recent years, several studies have shown that low carb diets trump low fat diets for weight loss. Now a new study is indicating that a low carb diet that is higher in protein can help with hypertension, according to NDTV on July 19.

"This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. And they've come up with a name for this type of diet: BOLD+diet (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet Plus additional protein).

How it works: Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA) advises following the DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It includes primarily plant-based protein, vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy. But by adding more meat to this approach, researchers say the DASH diet becomes more effective.

Researchers tested four different diets: A control diet with only 0.7 ounces of lean beef daily, the DASH diet with one ounce, the BOLD diet with four ounces and what they termed the BOLD+diet plan, with 5.4 ounces of lean beef. Participants followed each plan at various times.

The winner, the BOLD+diet, resulted in researchers highlighting the need for more protein in the standard diet. They reported: "This evidence suggests that it is the total protein intake - not the type of protein - that is instrumental in reducing blood pressure."

When it comes to weight loss, however, a specific type of protein just might have the edge. Researchers found that tasting umami can curb your hunger, reported Time magazine on July 21.

You know that certain foods taste salty, while others seem sweet, sour or bitter. But umami, which is more savory, also is considered a specific taste.

By cooking a steak or fermenting foods such as soy, umami becomes actually glutamate. And that savory enhancement is why some cooks use monosodium glutamate (MSG). Researchers have discovered that MSG results in a feeling of fullness.

As a result, the researchers theorize that umami can help you control your appetite. It's that satiety factor that has been cited in indicating why low carb diets succeed for weight loss.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. William Lagakos noted that eating more protein and restricting carbohydrates is a particularly effective approach for those who are obese. "For obese patients beginning a low-carbohydrate diet, strict calorie counting isn’t necessary; appetite spontaneously declines to a level that naturally facilitates weight loss," he said.

And don't assume that as you lose weight, your need for protein decreases. "The amount of protein required to maintain nitrogen balance (and thus maintain lean body mass) increases as calorie intake declines – so people who are losing weight may need to increase their absolute level of protein intake," he added.

By staying with that low carb diet and boosting protein intake as advised on the BOLD diet, you can also improve your ability to keep the pounds off. "High protein diets are very effective at maintaining long-term weight loss and preventing weight regain," said Lagakos.

All low carb diets are not created equal, however, While the BOLD diet researchers emphasize the need for more protein, those on high fat low carb ketogenic diets may need more fat, said Professor Tim Noakes in an exclusive interview.

"When you take carbohydrate out of your diet you have to replace the calories with either fat or protein. Thus one has high protein variants (Dukan diet)," while another one, the high fat version that he advocates, promotes nutritional ketosis.

"The more fat you eat, and the less protein and carbohydrate, the more ketogenic the diet becomes. I focus on limiting carbs for everyone with insulin resistance. If you have diabetes, then it makes sense to focus on eating more fat and less protein since protein acts as a partial carbohydrate," he explained.

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