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How to Eat All You Want and Still Have More Energy Than You Did at 20

What I learned from the Whole Body Reset and the magic of ‘protein timing’

Delicious meals and drinks in the sun
Sam Kaplan/Trunk Archive

“That’s too much protein,” my mom said when I told her about the Whole Body Reset, a weight-management program for people at midlife developed by AARP. “Too many calories.”

“Just eat salad to lose weight,” my mom-in-law advised.

There’s only so much lettuce I can pretend to enjoy, and I can’t afford to spend time counting calories. Plus, I never want to feel hungry: I’m a 40-year-old, stay-at-home dad. I need more energy, not less. 

So I decided to give it a shot. Here’s what I learned.

Eating enough protein is vital

As you age, your body’s ability to transform protein into muscle lowers, and having less muscle causes you to gain weight. That’s why “protein timing” is so important. 

The gist of the program is to eat three meals a day, each with 30 grams of protein (things like fish, poultry, red meat, soy, quinoa, and eggs) and at least 5 grams of fiber at each meal.

“If you eat the right amount of quality protein,” writes Stephen Perrine, author of the book Whole Body Reset, “your body responds as if it were 40 to 50 years younger.” 

Never skip breakfast

Over 15 percent of adults don’t eat breakfast, according to a recent study by Ohio State University. But doing that, especially in our 40s and 50s, is a huge mistake. Research has shown that eating less than 30 grams of protein in the morning puts you in muscle-loss mode all day.

So make an omelet, munch on some almonds and down a cup of milk along with your coffee. Or whip up a smoothie with Greek yogurt, vanilla whey protein powder and fruits like peaches and bananas. 

Nuts, fruit and fish = brainpower

More than I want to lose my belly, I want to be a mad genius. Sugar inflames your brain. Salt damages small blood vessels in your head, scrambling your memory and thought process. But almonds, avocados, salmon and fruits keep your mind fresh — especially strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.

Chocolate is a vegetable 

Perrine, who works for AARP, often eats 86 percent dark chocolate for an energy boost before he works out. “It's filled with protein and fiber,” he told me. “It’s a health food as far as I’m concerned. I treat it like another vegetable.”

Eating out can be healthy

Perrine laughed when I asked him how much people should worry about eating out. “Why would you worry about eating?” he said. “Squirrels don’t go around going, ‘Oh man, I’m having too many nuts.’ ” 

Consuming enough protein isn’t typically the problem when eating out — just order a Big Mac or a Crispy Colonel’s Sandwich. Rather, it’s the fiber that can be hard to find. Perrine has an easy solution: Slip an apple in your pocket, and you’re good to go.

Since I’ve been on the Reset, I never once thought about calories. I did enjoy some salad, but I didn’t turn into a strictly plant-eating Stegosaurus. I’ve grown a taste for dark chocolate, and even tossed my kids to my mom-in-law so I could take my wife out for date night at the Outback Steakhouse.

So far, I’ve lost five pounds. But more importantly, my mind’s crisp. And I have more energy than I’ve had in decades. 

My days are spent tearing up the house with my two kiddos, making forts. Together, we go to battle, spiking evil robots. I’m keeping up in the battle. I’m right beside them.