Changing the Way You

few things in American society have failed more often than diets (with the exception of the hapless Red Sox). I think there's an explanation for the high failure rate. For one, many diets have re volved around low-fat menus. I'll discuss fat in a later chapter, but one of the problems with low-fat diets is that they can suppress the manufacture of testosterone, the hormone that contributes to the growth of muscle and the burning of fat. When testosterone levels are low, your body stores fat like squirrels store nuts. In one study, men with higher testosterone were 75 percent less likely to be obese than men with lower levels of testosterone. Many diets also fail because they don't take advantage of the single most powerful nutrient for building muscle and increasing your metabolism: protein.

Protein—in proportion with foods from other groups—works in two primary ways. First, eating more protein cranks up the thermic effect of digestion by as much as one-third. Second, protein is also the nutrient that builds calorie-consuming muscle. In effect, you get a double burn—while you're digesting food and later, as it helps build muscle. In the Abs Diet, you'll emphasize protein for these very reasons, but you'll also emphasize the most powerful sources of protein. A Danish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition took a group of men and gave them diets that were high in protein either from pork or from soy. They found that men on the diet higher in animal protein burned 2 percent more calories during a 24-hour period than men on the soy protein diet, despite the fact that they ate slightly less food. That's 50 calories a day if you're eating a 2,500-calorie diet. In other words, if you want to burn calories, tenderloin is better than tofu.

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