The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Age MiddlePosted on Dec 3rd 2009 12:24PM by Victoria Stein
Are you over 40 and finding yourself struggling to button your jeans even though the number on the scale has stayed the same? You can thank middle age for your tightening waistband -- that's because once you hit the big 4-0 the (fattening) enemy changes. Or so say Mary Dan Eades, M.D., and Michael Eades, M.D., authors of "The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle: The Simple Plan to Flatten Your Belly Fast!"
Forced to fight their own battle of the bulge after hitting middle age, the authors -- who happened to be married -- suddenly realized that the techniques that helped them hold the line against weight gain in their 20s and 30s didn't work anymore. After looking back over 20 years of research and sifting through plenty of new data, the pair came up with a plan to hone in on middle body fat.
The Drs. Eades, obesity experts with 12 books (and not much fat) under their belts, found that the real culprit for middle-aged midsection gain is visceral fat -- the kind that accumulates around the organs, namely the liver. As we age, our reproductive hormones decrease causing fat storage to shift to our abdomen and the area deep within its core. Once it reaches a certain threshold, this unwelcome fat begins to collect in the liver. Unlike subcutaneous fat (the kind that is stored just below the skin), this visceral fat acts more like a metabolically active organ, interfering with normal biological actions, like insulin regulation and blood pressure control. The only way to trim this sinister substance and stave off the associated metabolic glitches, say the Drs. Eades, is to follow a low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-saturated fat diet.
Dr. Mary Dan Eades claims that within a week of trying the "The 6-Week Cure" patients notice a difference in girth. While the plan doesn't prescribe an exact calorie amount, she estimates it to be around 1,400-calories per day during the initial phase. Much like the widely popular Atkins Diet, "The 6 Week Cure" promises fat reduction through a steady diet of animal-based fare like rib eye, bacon and whipped cream.
Below, find Dr. Eades's six tips to begin blasting midsection fat today and the science behind this diet. Keep in mind that other noted weight-loss experts do not agree with all of these recommendations. We had some weigh in as well so you can decide whether this diet is right for you. As always, consult a healthcare professional before making permanent changes to your eating habits.
1. Calories in do not equal calories out. We have all been told that to lose unwanted weight we need to eat less and exercise more. Not so, says Dr. Eades, who questions conventional weight-loss wisdom. "Food and exercise are not independent variables. The body is a complex and interconnected piece of machinery," she says. Instead, your body adapts by expending fewer calories when you eat less and eating more calories when you burn more. Her advice? Eat right and exercise differently. Aim for three servings of protein a day and plenty of fat to keep hunger in check.
2. Eating fat does not make one fat. Americans have a misguided phobia of fat. Women, in particular, says Dr. Eades, are afraid to eat fat. By eating the right kinds of fat, we can remove the wrong kind from our liver. The authors cite two human studies -- one at Duke and one at Cambridge -- that found that subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) who followed a restricted-carbohydrate, high-saturated fat diet, showed a reduction in the amount of fat in their livers. She wants you to increase your saturated and monounsaturated fat intake and really limit the vegetable oils and so-called "heart healthy" fats that contain omega-6, found in vegetable oil, nuts and seeds. Think steak with a side of bacon, not lettuce leaves dressed with light vinaigrette.
3. Exercise differently. The only form of exercise that's been found to boost the rate of fat loss is resistance exercise. "Resistance training sculpts the body and increases your metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass. So, the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism," says Violet Zaki, a New York-based fitness expert. Dr. Eades suggests slow speed strength training -- a form of weight training that uses heavy weights and low reps. Another tip: the Laplace in Place maneuver, a standing abdominal exercise that is meant to strengthen the infrastructure in the abdominal wall. (Standing or sitting tall, inhale fully, filling your lungs to capacity. As you exhale, suck in as hard as you can. Try to hold the position for at least 10 seconds, building up to 30 to 60 seconds. Exhale fully. Work up to eight repetitions every day.)
4. Eat organic and natural foods. In the past century, billions of tons of chemicals have been applied to crops and farmland, administered to animals (in the form of antibiotics) and released into the air from factories and industrial plants. These toxins, says Drs.Dr. Eades, further the damage to our already overworked livers, which ultimately leads to the accumulation of more fat. While it's impossible to eliminate body toxins all together, we can significantly limit them by choosing naturally-raised meats, sustainably-farmed produce and buy organic and natural food products whenever possible.
5. Steer clear of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Americans eat more sugar and other sweeteners than any other food, including meat, veggies and milk. And those sweeteners (mainly in the form of concentrated fructose) are causing our bodies to pack our livers with fat, says Dr. Eades. Historically, fatty liver disease was associated with excessive and chronic alcohol consumption, but is now seen in roughly one-third of Americans with no history of significant alcohol intake. Dr. Eades sees this as an emerging epidemic and believe that concentrated fructose (as seen in HFCS) is responsible.
6. Sleep more. There's a fair amount of evidence that levels of melatonin -- a hormone produced by the brain during sleep -- decline during middle age. The consequence of decreased melatonin production is a disturbance in the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. Melatonin production begins around dusk and continues through early morning. Getting a good night's sleep will help maximize melatonin production. Dr. Eades recommends aiming for at least seven hours a night.
While the Drs. Eades make a compelling argument, and have based their new program off the successes they found over the years treating 10,000 patients with low-carb diets at their clinical practice, there is little scientific research supporting the long-term use of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets over reduced-calorie programs. Judith Stern, Sc. D., a nutrition professor at UC Davis and founder of the American Obesity Association, warns that while you may feel good at first, most of the weight loss is water weight and probably not sustainable long-term. Moreover, she strongly discourages any plan that restricts fruits and vegetables. "Limiting any one food group is a bad idea. You can't get all you need from a diet like this. The long-term effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on cognition and health are still unknown."
Most experts agree that a diet high in saturated fat and protein can be harmful for individuals at risk for heart disease. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2009 evaluating the biological impact of three popular diets -- Atkins, South Beach and Ornish -- during weight maintenance revealed less favorable biological effects in the simulated, high-fat Atkins diet when compared to the more balanced South Beach and Ornish diet. The researchers concluded that popular diets that encourage high saturated fat intake (i.e. Atkins) may lead to more adverse health effects, such as increased LDL cholesterol and endothelial dysfunction, than diets lower in saturated fat intake.
Neeraj Bhala, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Oxford who recently published a paper in the British Medical Journal on NAFLD, agrees. "Although there is some pilot evidence, I would not say that the diet the Drs. Eades advocate is wholly evidence-based or accepted." Instead, Dr. Neeraj advises patients with fatty liver disease to lose weight by decreasing their fat intake and increasing exercise. He encourages patients to consume a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables (five or more servings a day) and oily fish (two servings per week), while reducing total fat intake -- particularly saturated fat -- and salt consumption.
Bottom line: While much of the advice from the Drs. Eades flies in the face of established weight-loss wisdom, if you're over 50 and healthy and long for a flatter midsection, the suggestions listed above may offer the guidance you need.