High protein diet book comes under attack

Sydney: The authors of the best-selling slimming book, The Total Wellbeing Diet, have defended its high protein approach to dieting.

The Total Wellbeing Diet, similar to the Atkins diet, advises eating around twice the daily amount of protein in a typical Western diet. But an editorial in the magazine Nature suggests the diet only helps a small number of people.

However the scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) who wrote the book, which has sold more than half a million copies in Australia, stand by their work.

The diet recommends around 30 to 35% of a person’s daily energy intake should come from protein, compared to 15% in the typical Western diet. The authors Manny Noakes and Peter Clifton who devised the eating plan, recommend eating more meat and fish at lunch and dinner.

Unlike the Atkins diet it advises eating small amounts of carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. The diet is based the diet on several studies, including one of 100 overweight women which they carried out themselves. Half the women were put onto the high-protein diet while the rest had a high-carbohydrate eating plan.
Both diets contained the same amount of calories, and women in both groups lost the same amount of weight.

Women with high triglyceride levels – a marker of insulin resistance – shed far more weight on the high-protein diet. Insulin resistance happens when the body cannot respond properly to the insulin being produced, leading to difficulty in regulating blood glucose levels.

The Nature editorial said: “The diet is being promoted as beneficial for everyone, whereas the published research indicates that it is superior to a high-carbohydrate diet only for a sub-population of overweight women with symptoms of metabolic disorder.”

Patrick Holford, of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, said: “The main trial showed no difference in weight loss compared with a conventional diet.”

But a spokeswoman for the CSIRO said it had always published books on its scientific work and put its name to publications, and this was “no exception”.

“The decision to publish was in response to many consumers asking for further details of the diet.”