First For Women

The diet tweaks that will reprogram your metabolism

Fred Pescatore, M.D., reveals the tiny diet tweaks that make over your metabolism into a fat-burning marvel


For years we’ve been told that protein-powered diets are the key to revving fat burn, increasing satiety and building metabolism-revving lean muscle. But despite eating burgers wrapped in lettuce leaves, topping our salads with chicken breast and spiking our water with protein add-ins, many of us aren’t seeing the slimming results we deserve. What gives?

New science suggests most highprotei­n diets don’t provide the diverse array of amino acids necessary for health and weight loss. “Amino acids are the basic building blocks of life itself—right down to the cellular level—and they need to be maintained in the correct combinatio­n,” explains Columbia University– trained integrativ­e physician Fred Pescatore, M.D. He notes that there are nine essential amino acids, and the body needs a steady supply of each

to optimize slimming processes. But most protein sources provide only a small percentage of those essential nine. That means women who favor chicken breast every day for lunch end up deficient in other essential amino acids, like those in beef or pork that are needed to fuel the growth of lean muscle mass, and those in eggs and dairy sources that convert fat into fuel. Dr. Pescatore cautions, “If your dietary plan doesn’t call for rotating your proteins, you’re likely lacking the necessary variety of amino acids needed to keep the pounds from piling on.”

Over time, a lack of amino acid variety causes metabolism to slow to a crawl. Dr. Pescatore estimates that women lose as much as 2 percent of their lean muscle mass every year after they turn 50, often because they aren’t getting the right combinatio­n of dietary protein. “That’s bad news for slimming because muscle is metabolica­lly active tissue,” he explains. “The more lean muscle you have, the more fat your body burns.”

But get the right mix of amino acids and wow! “Rotating your proteins provides an array of amino acids that build lean muscle mass and speed metabolism,” says Dr. Pescatore. Case in point: Researcher­s at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed that a varied amino acid intake helps the body build up to 50 percent more lean muscle. This in turn shifts metabolism into high gear and switches the body into fatburning mode to double fat burning all day. And in a UCLA study, women lost twice as much weight when they were consuming a balanced intake of amino acids as they did when they weren’t. Dr. Pescatore notes that the payoff is significan­t—his patients lose up to 10 pounds a week.

The best part: Belly fat falls off first. “Muscle specifical­ly takes energy from existing belly-fat cells to burn for fuel,” says Dr. Pescatore. “And the muscles burn up incoming calories before they can be stored.” The proof: In a French study, healthy adults who enjoyed a diet with varied proteins lost 35 percent more abdominal fat than those who ate a higher protein diet that didn’t provide an array of amino acids.

The results go beyond melting a menopot. Studies show that a diet loaded with a mix of amino acids improves brainpower, eases body aches and slashes stress. “I wanted to be calm and at peace, and now I am,” shares Magdalena Hernandez, who lost 164 pounds, reversed her type 2 diabetes and melted 104 inches of fat from her body by varying her proteins throughout the week. “It’s been life-changing. Now when Facebook shows old photos of me, it’s like I don’t even know that big girl anymore.”

And that’s not all, says Dr. Pescatore: “Energy levels improve, sleep gets better and an overall sense of well-being increases. It also helps slow down the aging process—my patients look great largely due to the fact that they are aging more slowly from within.” Read on to discover the protein prescripti­on that will work for you, plus success secrets from women like Magdalena who have transforme­d their health.

“Rotating your proteins provides an array of amino acids that build lean muscle and speed metabolism.”

—Fred Pescatore, M.D.

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