Which is more extreme: having your stomach cut open to rearrange your internal organs, or going on a plant-based diet?
Dr. Garth Davis, a bariatric surgeon, confirmed that when patients are given these options, the vast majority go for surgery—shocking as it may seem.
In a webinar by the Forks Over Knives community, Davis revealed: “I went to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and this is what they were recommending their patients to do: go on a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (less than 20 g of carbohydrates/day).
“This meant eggs and bacon or a sugar-free yogurt with berry slices for breakfast, a chicken Caesar salad or a fast-food burger without the bun, olives and cheese sticks or pepperoni slices and pork rinds for a snack, then steak with blue cheese and broccoli or salmon with cream sauce for dinner.”
Davis has heard people say, “‘I tried low-fat, it didn’t work.’ No, we didn’t. We ate more fat than we did back then and we just ate more calories.
“There are debates about low-fat versus low-carb, but protein has been put on a pedestal as universally good. Dr. [Robert] Atkins popularized that, no matter that it worked only for a short time because you got nauseous and lost mostly water weight. Thus, it was hard to sustain.
“So did the Paleo diet, although anthropologists would probably say the Paleo man most likely ate plants, based on studies of his skull.”
How much protein do we really need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) states: age 1-3, 13 grams; age 4-8, 19 g; age 9-13, 34 g; age 14-18, 46 g (girls) and 52 g (boys); age 19-70+, 46 g (women) and 56 g (men). But these are optimal levels, so the vast majority of people need less.
To compare: spinach is 49 percent protein; kale and broccoli, 45 percent; cauliflower, 40 percent; mushrooms, 38 percent; parsley, 34 percent; cucumber, 24 percent; green peppers and cabbage, 22 percent; and tomatoes 18 percent. In beef, 26 percent; chicken, 23 percent; and eggs, 12 percent.
Vegetarian Italian actor Pino Caruso said, “People eat meat and think they will become strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass.”
In a Stanford News Center website story, “5 Questions: Gardner on the intersection of meat, protein and the environment,” Dr. Christopher Gardner, nutrition expert and professor of medicine at Stanford, reported on a study he did which revealed that in the standard American diet (2,500 calories/day), an average person would eat 125 g of protein (20 percent).
A typical vegan diet would have about 75 g of protein, which is more than the RDA of 46-56 g, and more than enough of the essential and nonessential amino acids.
Choose life not death
“Nonevidence-based science is floating around, convincing people to eat otherwise. High-protein diets cause chronic diseases.
“Antiaging literature is now antiprotein,” said Davis. “‘The body craves protein’—what is it actually craving? People are so used to portion control, so they end up going on an extremely low-calorie diet that they’re craving calories. There’s also the mental or behavioral aspect, from getting animal protein to nothing. They don’t know the variety to cook, they eat only salads or what they know.
“A ketogenic diet is used to treat cancer because it reduces sugar, which is what feeds cancer growth. But many studies are being exaggerated, have been done on rodents, or early stage studies; if human, only anecdotal. People get the wrong idea of what ketosis is. You deny your body sugar but all the animal protein will make methionine, which cancer also needs to grow and will stimulate IGF1, which is the worst thing you can do for cancer,” said Davis.
So, if you have cancer, Davis said it’s more advisable to do a low-sugar ketosis plant-based diet, mostly eating nuts, olives, legumes and maybe do prolonged fasting.
“People on ketosis eating a high-protein diet are shooting themselves in the foot,” he said. “Your body so badly wants sugar that you’re denying, your glycogen stores will drop and it will turn your protein into sugar, a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis. A ketogenic diet is very high fat and pretty hard to sustain.”
Make it doable
Which animal-based product should be given up, for those who are stubbornly hanging on to their eating habits?
Davis advised: “Processed meat—salami, cured hams, deli meats. Red meat is next. Fish is best because of omega-3. A DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet usually wins as the top diet.
“Vegetarians and vegans have low levels of hypertension. Heavily lean on fruits and vegetables, with a bit of fish and chicken, if you’re unwilling to give up animal protein.”
Why do people on a high-protein diet lose weight?
“Atkins is a ketogenic diet. Anyone going on a diet will lose weight because you will do something different. But can you do it long-term as a permanent lifestyle? Will it help you live longer? Will it reverse heart disease? Does it decrease hypertension? Weight should not be the only focus.”
If you go for bariatric surgery, is it necessary to eat a bit more protein?
“We’re told in seminars to eat 80 g protein. In a two-month study in a hospital, the low-fat group did better than the ketosis group. Keeping people in ketosis will slow their metabolism eventually. After bariatric surgery, you’re gonna have a big calorie drop, so for the first two months, I advise to eat more protein but I don’t want to hear about how much you need to have after that. I want you to eat food: fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds. Then you’ll be healthy.” —CONTRIBUTED