It all depends how you look at it

Chocolate is protein, right? It had better be:

Diets high in protein may be the best way to keep hunger in check, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that offers insight into how diets work.

They found that protein does the best job at keeping a hunger hormone in check, while carbohydrates and fats may well deserve their current nasty reputation.

The study, which will appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, looked at the effectiveness of different nutrients at suppressing ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

“Suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways that you lose your appetite as you begin to eat and become sated,” said Dr. David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle, who worked on the study.

The researchers gave 16 people three different beverages, each with varying levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They took blood samples before the first beverage, then every 20 minutes for six hours afterward, measuring ghrelin levels in each sample.

“The interesting findings were that fats suppress ghrelin quite poorly,” Cummings said in a telephone interview. They fared the poorest overall.

“Proteins were the best suppressor of ghrelin in terms of the combination of the depth and duration of suppression,” he said. “That is truly satisfying because high proteins are essentially common to almost all of the popular diets.”

Sadly, having read the article, I somehow don’t think that it is. It’s going to be tuna and flavorless chicken breasts from now on….


23 Responses

  1. The problem with high-protein diets (meaning higher than Americans are already eating) is that they are highly correlated with osteoporosis!! Even groups who eat LOTS of calcium – like the Inuit, who get it in part from fish bones – have high levels of osteoporosis, correlated with total protein intake. The reason is that the nitrogenous wastes, that result from breaking down excess amino acids, have to be processed through the kidneys – and even in maximum “save calcium” mode, every milliliter of urine carries significant calcium out of the body. There’s a fair amount of research on this — much of what I know about it comes from John McDougall’s work:

    That book is the best I know of — and he references the scientific literature to back up his recommendations.

  2. Greetings:

    Growing up as the son and grandson of of butchers, my nutritional training and experience was probably, at least somewhat, different from that of most people. My father used to kid us that the first word I spoke was “meat” and the second was “potatoes.”

    My father’s nutritional philosophy had two important ideas; that a meal without meat was like a day without sunshine and that it was better to put the money on the dinner table than give it to the doctor. His wisdom has borne fruit for me and mine.

    The conclusion of this study doesn’t seem to be anything knew to me. I remember that my high school Biology teacher mentioning that protein takes the longest to digest, thus keeping you from getting hungry again. I hope this isn’t more taxpayer money discovering the obvious.

  3. Ghrelin…that is the sound your stomach makes when it is hungry.

  4. All these studies! To me it is self evident: think like a hunter/gatherer carbs were invented to store fat for the coming winter, when all you would have to eat was what you could catch. Summer – eat carbs, pack on the fat; winter use up your stores of fat and eat what you can catch (meat).

    By eating a high protein diet, your body thinks it’s winter and will burn fat and suppress your appetite. Eat carbs and your body will make you hungry so that you pack on as much as you can. Those that did this the best are our ancestors; those that didn’t, never made it through the winter.

  5. I remember a German documentary on Mongolia made by a ist class journalist who spent some time with the nomadic tribes. At one point he asked about the secret of their longevity. Answer: No fruits or vegies and lots of yak milk. We are pretty adaptable, but I admit to liking a little more variety than life on the steppes would offer.

  6. BW,
    No need for “tasteless” chicken. Pick up some of the Lowry’s or A1 marinades and let the breasts soak overnight. Low-calorie and pretty tasty. If you really want to push it out there, pick up some lean ham and thin sliced provalone. Butterfly your chicken breast, sear the inside then flip, cover, cook for about five minutes in white wine and garlic, uncover, layer on a slice of ham and the cheese (until slightly melty), fold, and you have an unbreaded (and much less soggy) cordon-bleu.
    Wow – I need to get back to the states so I can cook again. The other specialty I do uses low-fat italian for a marinade – and white rum, cinnamon, cardamum, and cloves to “poach” the chicken (cook covered in standing liquid). It keeps the chicken really moist, and you can make a wonderful sauce by reducing the remaining liquid and adding a touch of salt and either honey or sugar.
    Low-fat/high protein doesn’t have to be bland – you just need to marinate (I usually do overnight in a ziplock in the fridge).
    Until I get back from here (sigh) and away from the dining facility (chow hall/mess hall) I have to live with underspiced and overfried dishes. (That said, the food is not bad here, nor was it at Victory in Baghdad).
    Be well and eat well,
    SGT Dave – “Lemmesee; two cups of wine – one in the pot and one in the chef.”

  7. Oh, I almost forgot this part – especially involving chocolate.

    Take your favorite dark chocolate (about 1/2 oz), two ounces (fl) of low-fat milk, and four ounces of very, very strong coffee (hot). Combine until smooth, then strain over a pile of ice into a ten-ounce cup and add one or two cubes. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of cocoa powder or squirt of chocolate syrup and you have a surprisingly low (less than 100) calorie cold mochachino – for about 30 cents a serving. If it is evening, use creme de cacao (either light or dark) instead of the dark chocolate for a (very mildly alcoholic) treat. The chocolate flavor is concentrated in the liquor and the calorie count is a bit lower.
    Oh, and both are relatively low on the fat/carb table – though they don’t have a lot of protein, they aren’t laden with bad stuff, either. Plus antioxidents from both the coffee and chocolate – and both may have an effect on osteoporosis, too.
    Remember – chocolate is health food!
    SGT Dave – (R-rated quote follows)”I love chocolate, but it is so hard to get out of the sheets….”

  8. I think I’ll cut and paste Sgt Dave into a cookbook. Thanks much guy. But BW, he’s right. Chicken can be good for you and great too. Check out some of Lydia Bastianich’s cookbooks. She is a champion of Mediteranian cooking. Very flavorful and healthy.
    Hmmm, my ghrelin is calling me.

  9. […] [Discuss this post with Bookworm over at Bookworm Room…] Share Article Sphere: Related Content Trackback URL […]

  10. I’m really impressed, SGT Dave — both by your love of cooking and by the fact that you, with your obvious love of good food, can manage so well with the mess. My main problem is that I really, really don’t like to cook, so it’s a daily chore. I’m an almost improbably inartistic person and I think that’s connected to my hating cooking. Without fail, those people I know who enjoy cooking are artistic in at least one other area. So, for them, cooking’s not just a chore, it’s a creative outlet.

  11. BW,
    You sound exactly like my wife; she, too, grew up with kitchen duty as “work”. Even when it was part of my chores, I still tried to think of it as fun. I try to keep it to one or two pans, use the microwave for side dishes, and keep it simple. Marinating overnight means that the chicken goes from fridge to pan to table in under 20 minutes. It also means that I’m washing one frying pan or baking pan instead of the prep board, the sauce pan, etc.
    I love good food because of my time in the Army; when I get outside the wire (in Panama, most of the other Central American Nations, Iraq, Kosovo, Germany, and Ecuador) I go to the local places and try local foods. It makes a difference in how I see places; it also flavors my cooking. I can’t wait to get home and make a homemade quattro fromagi pizza for my wife that I tried here – mozzerela, provalone, parmesan, and Roquefort bleu. I’ll be headed back there next week or so to try their local brand of chicken – and try and steal the recipe too.
    Some of my troops think I’m a bit off-kilter because I eat at the mess hall but demand a nice, sit-down place with a good wine list when we’re out and about (though with General Order 1, the drinking is off-limits). I make them try new and different stuff and avoid “American” style food when they’re out. Some are learning, though, that food is either fuel or it is fun – sometimes both, too often only one. Appreciate what you can and survive with what you need.
    And one of my favorite new things for fast and easy is the microwave rice by Rice-a-Roni and Uncle Ben’s. Ninety seconds and done – and not too much worse than the long-cook style. Perfect for cutting work on side dishes (which, obviously, means I can do more with the meal’s focus!).
    Be well, and I hope the inspiration strikes soon!
    SGT Dave – “Four kinds of food in the world – Stuff I won’t eat, stuff I have to eat, stuff I like to eat, and stuff I’ll pay someone else to make for me.”

  12. SGT Dave,

    I liked your last category. I sometimes try something that is lots of work or very time intensive just to pat myself on the back and feed my ego. After that, I get it in a restaurant or buy it in the best bakery I can find. I also don’t make things available at my I-don’t-feel-like -cooking-tonight refuges. The latter can change with a change of address.

    I once tried making my own ketchup. It was a large amount, it took forever, and it was not very good recipe. I buy Heinz now.

  13. What’s been helping my cooking, and slightly changing my attitude, is America’s Test Kitchen, which is both a TV show and a series of cook books. It recognizes that not everyone is artistic, and brings a more practical approach to cooking. They try recipes dozens and dozens of different ways so that the average cook can achieve a pretty foolproof and, usually, delicious outcome. It’s still work, but I see a return on my effort. One sweet byproduct is that my kids also like to watch the cooking show, so they’re learning and enjoying.

  14. Get to indoctrinating the kids on cooking Book, so that soon they can do it for you!

  15. I’m really impressed, SGT Dave — both by your love of cooking and by the fact that you, with your obvious love of good food, can manage so well with the mess.

    Also send Mr. Bookworm to be tutored by SGT Dave, Book. That’ll provide dividends eventually.

    This must be a critical component of the Adtkins diet that recommends lowering carbs and increasing meat intake. What that primarily does is change your metabolism. If your health already sucked, changing your metabolism isn’t going to do that much without exercise.

  16. Ymarsakar,
    Unfortunately, Bookworm will be unable to send DQ this way for tutoring – I’m in Kosovo (with KFOR 9 – 35th ID “Santa Fe”) until the end of this coming summer. My wife is, however, pressing me to write a cookbook. The working title is “Through Her Stomach” – alluding to the normal tripe on the best way to a man’s heart. I’ve got about twenty-five recipes more-or-less ready; all take less than 20 minutes prep (excepting marinade time) and less than an hour to cook. When I am actually at home, I cook about 75% of the time, despite being the “work” person. I find it relaxing, and my wife has plenty to do during the day (our son will turn five soon and our daughter just turned three).
    Nonetheless, when I’m back in the states and you find yourself in the Kansas City area, drop an email. I know where the best beef brisket BBQ (Arthur Bryant’s), pulled pork and BBQ beans (Zarda), steakhouse(s) (Hereford among others), and Cajun style food (Jazz) is in the region, if not the nation.
    Add to that Arris’ Pizza in Jefferson City, the “little Rhein” wineries at Agusta and Hermann, and a four-plus equivalent at Andre’s at Lake of the Ozarks, and the foodie never need leave the region except for seafood. I miss eating fresh, deep fried squid on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterrey.
    Be well and eat well – to quote my grandfather (rest his soul) “If I cannot have wine, lamb, real butter and bread, why would you call it living?”
    SGT Dave – “Simple bread and plain water are more precious than the finest of fare when the choice means I can be sharing the crust with her.”

  17. A common misconception has cropped up again: DQ is not my husband. He is a dear friend, married to a delightful woman whom I also count among my friends. Mr. Bookworm is another person entirely and does not participate in this blog, because he has yet to abandon his liberal roots. He thinks this blog is a dreadful manifestation of my current zombie-like allegiance to a tainted political world view and wants nothing to do with it. (And yes, I’m exaggerating a little bit.)

  18. One other thing, SGT Dave: It’s nice to hear you say good things about Kansas City. I’ve never been there, but it was where my parents first moved when they immigrated to America (in the early 1950s). They have only nice things to say about it, and left only because (a) it was so overwhelmingly hot and (b) other family members wanted to press on to San Francisco.

  19. Yo, Sgt Dave, I saved your KC eatery recommendations. I really hope to travel in the U.S. hinterlands in the next few years (to see the Art Institute in my hometown Chicago again before I croak and then drive west toward Denver, where I went to college many moons ago, and while in transit watch the thunderstorms roll across the Midwest and have a steak dinner in Nebraska) and may just put KC on the itinerary. Never been there.

  20. BW,

    You may want to check out Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” at Amazon. They recommended it to me, but I haven’t shelled out yet. I do find the idea of the science of cooking fascinating, and you might get your kids to prepare dinner while doing a science experiment for school.

  21. The thing with DQ is common enough for it to be an inside joke amongst regulars.

  22. Zhombre,
    I put the eateries on the KC list, but if you are doing a tour and hitting “must see” places, there are three in KC and one off the beaten path – but still along your route to Chicago.
    First and foremost, you can complete your set of national memorials by visiting the Liberty Memorial. This is the U.S. National Memorial for WWI, complete with museum – and I think still the most impressive of the war memorials.
    Second, hit Crown Center – Hallmark’s headquarters (literally across the street from the Memorial).
    Third, as an artist, visit the Nelson-Adkins museum complex. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side emigrated to work for that family – the upstairs maid married the chauffer and three generations later you have me.
    The last spot is off the path, but worth it if you ever ordered a book for your kids from Scholastic. In Jefferson City you can tour the NSO (National Service Organization) for Scholastic, Inc. This is where ALL the books ship to schools in the US and worldwide. Plus, the tour guides are just normal hourly workers – you give them a break from the daily grind to show you around. And when you go through downtown, stop for ice cream at Central Dairy – it made the Travel Channel’s 100 places to see list, one of two for MO.
    Anyway, enough fun about my home state and environs; I hope your trip goes well.
    SGT Dave – “The journey is the goal; the destination another stop along the way.”

  23. +1 on Nelson-Adkins in KC

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