To lose weight, time wins over quantity: when is more important than how much

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25269533_mTo lose weight properly, every meal has to be combined with the right amount of protein.

That is no longer the rant of few fanatics, but finally this is the claim, measured, documented and published in the Journal of Nutrition, clarifying once for all that a stimulus towards muscle growth (and therefore towards consumption of calories and weight loss) is obtained by correctly distributing the daily amount of proteins among all the three meals of the day.

For many years, the study around metabolism has focused on the importance of quantities that should be introduced into the body. Only a few researchers have highlighted how important it was, instead, to choose the right time of the day to have certain foods.

Today, however, following new evidence, we may certainly reiterate that the choice of when to introduce certain aliments in the diet is more important than the simple calories count. Eating the same amount of protein, all in one go, for dinner, produces very different effects than distributing it over the course of the three different meals of the day.

In particular, diet signal requires each person to eat a well-balanced and defined amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables in each meal. According to our directions, the ratio is about one third for each of the groups considered.

By altering these quantities, the risk is to generate insulin resistance, which leads to weight gaining, diabetes, obesity and other metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.

Such phenomenon is a “warning signal”, similar to the one generated by food-related inflammation, which stimulates fat accumulation in a similar way.

For this reason, to address properly every overweight issue, in addition we should always analyse the food-related causes of inflammation, and understand the food personal profile so that we can advice each person correctly.

In order to counteract the negative effect of a “fattening” signal, the most important element that everyone is able to put in place is to distribute correctly the right amount of protein or carbs during the day.

Breakfast in the morning is always one of the fundamental moments of metabolic stimulation: the amount of proteins that should be taken in the morning is much higher than what used by the average Italian person.

Then, if one wanted to compare the types of diet advertised by the most popular dieticians and most widely suggested (usually hypo-caloric diets), he would notice a great imbalance linked to types of breakfast consisting almost only in carbohydrates, with two toasts, a small amount of milk or soy milk, together with layers of honey or jam and optional fresh orange juice. Carbohydrates rule the breakfast of the most popular diets.

Instead, each meal should also include the correct amount of protein.

The study here reported, carried out by an American research group and recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, has described very precisely that the amount of protein needed during the day should be distributed in a balanced way among all the three meals (Mamerow MM et al, J Nutr., 2014 Jun, 144 (6):876-80. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280. Epub 2014 Jan 29).

It is essential to remind what the daily required amount of protein is for a normal person in a normal day, according to the indications of the World Health Organization (WHO), that is, 0.9-1.0 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, meaning that a healthy person weighing 70 kilos is required to eat about 70 grams of protein in a day.

The most common mistake is to think that a 100 grams steak will be more than sufficient to meet the basic requirements, but it is not the amount of food, but instead the amount of protein actually present in the food.

Take for example a chunk of fish of about 100 grams. The protein content in it is about 18-20 g. A hypothetical 70 kg person should eat about 4 chunks in order to reach the required daily amount of 70 grams.

In order to obtain 70 grams of protein per day, one should eat 200 g of parmesan cheese (33 g of protein per 100 g of total weight), 400 grams of soft cheese (18 g per 100 g) and about three steaks of more than 100 g each (22 g per 100 g). We are talking of quantities that cannot and should not be used only for dinner (as does most of the Italians), but distributed instead throughout the day, possibly integrating with whole grains, eggs and oily seeds starting from the beginning of the day, following the right quantities.

Unfortunately, the habit of almost all the hypo-caloric types of diet is to leave proteins for dinner, although such attitude is likely to produce adverse effects.

The American researchers showed how the activity stimulating the metabolism along with muscle build-up peaks when the daily amount of proteins is evenly distributed within the three meals.

Using again the previous example, since the person has to eat about 70 grams of protein in a day, it is recommended to distribute the amount symmetrically, that is, 25 grams in the morning, 25 grams in the afternoon and eventually 20-25 grams in the evening (balancing the dish with similar quantities of complex carbohydrates and vegetables).

It is clear how this type of distribution results in deep contrast to what is usually required in most widely used dietary protocols, and the official position of the Italian Institute of food and nutritional research (INRAN) is unfortunately based on poorly developed and obsolete criteria despite this type of information was already evident in the years.

Therefore, it is clear that the peak of metabolic stimulus can be reached only through the distribution of proteins in every meal of the day, in a balanced way.

The types of diet signal that we offer in order to be able to reach such conditions are integral part of the therapeutic courses that have been characterizing our clinical activity for many years. Our indication is to volumetrically evaluate the amount of proteins and carbohydrates, in order to reach the amount of 1/3 of protein, 1/3 of carbohydrates and 1/3 of fruit and vegetables as a well-approximated result.

Michelle Obama herself, who sponsored the new directions coming from the US Department of Agriculture to fight obesity and keep a healthy weight, presented a new dietary scheme characterized by a balanced distribution of proteins and carbs within the same meal.

Only in this way it will be possible to trigger a metabolic stimulus sufficient to lead to weight loss in the most effective and safe way.

A new peculiar consideration in the fight against obesity has been born, something that also the Italian government is trying to activate.

How will certain forms of advertisement be tolerated, in which breakfast is only made of carbohydrates and desserts?