The PE diet sounds like a strange one, but it’s all based around the protein to energy ratio of the foods you eat. In other words the number of calories of protein to the number of calories of energy in foods. What are the principles of the PE diet and why can it be effective?
How The PE Diet Works
Here’s my take on the PE diet.
The PE diet is described as a diet because it is focused around improving body composition through fat loss and the maintenance/increase of lean muscle mass. By focusing on protein and obtaining less energy from fats and carbohydrates you will be more satiated and therefore less hungry. Diets such as keto and low carb sometimes focus less on eating low carb and more on eating a lot of fat which is where I think some people get it wrong i.e. going keto and eating lots of fatty foods because they’re “keto-friendly” where the reality is they should be eating foods rich in protein that may come with fat on them e.g. bacon, eggs, ribeye steaks.
This is where I think the PE diet gets it right – by focusing on the foods that promote the greatest amount of satiety. Those high in protein.
Some graphs by Marty Kendall from Nutrient Optimiser demonstrate the relationship between satiety and protein beautifully.
We can see this better visually when we realise which foods are higher in protein and more likely to promote satiety.
What Foods Does The PE Diet Focus On?
We know the PE diet focuses on protein rich foods, but what foods are they specifically? Well, the groups of foods the PE diet focuses on can be split into several categories:
- Herbs and spices
- Nuts and seeds
- Low sugar fruit
- Fermented dairy
As you can see there’s a whole range of food choices. You could even eat high sugar fruit if you like it, but balance out the rest of your PE diet by having higher protein foods for the rest of the day. It’s all about making informed choices. Knowing that you can have a slice of cake, but it will probably lead to you consuming more calories (energy) as it doesn’t promote as much satiety as eating some animal foods such as steak, eggs or fatty fish.
Benefits Of The PE Diet
As mentioned and shown above, the PE diet promotes high satiety through the consumption of high protein foods. This will allow people to eat fewer calories and induce a greater amount of satiety which both aid with fat loss. Fewer calories mean less energy ingested which will help trigger the body to mobilise stored body fat as energy. Increased satiety means you’re less likely to eat or want to eat more calories and will spend less time thinking about food which will also aid with being in a caloric deficit if fat loss is your goal.
As a temporary means of fat loss, you can utilise a high protein diet low in energy (low carb and low fat) to lose body fat quickly although I would not recommend using this as a sustainable method of fat loss because a diet low in carbs and fat will eventually lead to you being lethargic and may start to cause hormonal imbalances.
The PE diet is highly satiating due to high protein, but this isn’t the only benefit of consuming a high protein diet. A high protein diet (ideally a minimum of 1g per lb of bodyweight) will help to maintain or increase lean muscle mass. This is true, even in a caloric deficit. You can lose body fat and hold on to lean muscle mass, possibly even gain muscle mass if you’re consuming a high protein diet.
If you’re concerned about kidney damage or protein causing your body to waste away, there are numerous studies showing that there is no sufficient evidence to link high protein diets to kidney disease or other metabolic issues. In fact, eating high protein tends to be more beneficial in the sense you’ll be more satiated and consuming less other potentially harmful foods (such as plenty of refined carbohydrates).
Promotes Real Food
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the PE diet (in my opinion) is that it promotes real food. Meat and vegetables. There’s massive potential to revolutionise our health simply by opting to a diet focused around real food and that’s what the PE diet promotes. Meat, seafood, vegetables, low sugar fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds and more. It takes us back to our roots as humans.
The idea of broccoli as a high protein food sounds ludicrous to many, but 100g broccoli contains around 25 calories of which approximately 15.2 calories are protein so it’s actually a high protein food.
Nothing is strictly off limits, but the PE diet simply encourages you to focus on the protein to energy ratio of foods.
How To Calculate Protein To Energy Ratio
The easiest way to calculate protein to energy ratio is to use this protein to energy (PE) ratio tool. Simply take a food label and input the number of grams of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fibre into the tool and it will calculate the PE ratio for you making it nice and simple!
Final Notes On The PE Diet
I wouldn’t call the PE diet a ‘diet’ as such, but rather a guide to use for making intuitive food choices which support maintenance and increased lean muscle mass whilst simultaneously helping you achieve your fat loss goals. Overall, I think it’s a great guideline for anyone to use and it can help you to maintain a low level of body fat in a sustainable manner. The best place to get started is from the authors themselves, Ted Naiman and William Shewfelt and follow them on Twitter. Don’t forget to check out their book the PE diet where you can get even more information!
My favourite high protein foods:
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