Did you start the New Year off with a new diet? A resolution to lose some weight? A decision to follow the latest nutrition trend or jump of the latest food fad?
On average, a person gains five pounds for every diet they go on. What is worse is when they lose weight, they lose muscle and fat. When the weight is regained, it is gained back as fat! Muscles utilize seven times as many calories as fat, so metabolism is slower than before the diet began. The cruel fact is that now, less calories are needed just to maintain weight.
Many overweight people do not eat much. They are dealing with damaged metabolisms due to constant yo-yo dieting.
The simple key to effective weight loss and maintenance revolves around automatically reducing your appetite, not by white knuckling it and starving yourself but by fixing the imbalanced hormones and brain chemistry that drive hunger and overeating. This in turn allows your metabolism to work effectively, burning energy consistently through the day.
Most diets do quite the opposite; they increase the appetite and de-regulate the metabolism.
Here are some reasons these diets are unsuccessful, and my ideas on what you can do instead
1. You are told you need willpower to control hunger
Hunger is scientifically regulated. Eating less, the premise of many diets, actually triggers hunger. You will only be able to starve yourself for so long! We have powerful instincts protecting us from starvation, even the self-induced type. When this happens, hunger dramatically increases, along with incessant cravings. Metabolism also slows down to conserve energy. Certain foods are scientifically proven to both increase hunger and slow metabolism. These include foods that are nutrient poor, low in fat and high in processed carbohydrates.
How to take control of your appetite
· Eat whole, real food to satisfy hunger
· Start the day with some protein and healthy, natural fat
· Keep blood sugar balanced by building meals around protein, natural fats and non-starchy vegetables. Use fruit and below ground vegetables and condiments and compliments, rather than the base of the meal.
2. The focus is only on the calories
The outdated theory of calories in must equal calories out as the key to weight loss is being disproved. All calories are not created equal, and some will trigger fat storage, while others will provide long lasting nourishment and energy to your cells.
Foods that quickly elevate your blood sugar (and thus spike your insulin levels), trigger a metabolic shift to a fat storage mode.
This, in turn, leads our cells to believe they are starving and in need of nourishment. As I mentioned earlier, this will increase hunger and slow metabolism to conserve energy. This explains the hunger and sweet cravings a few hours after eating a meal heavy in refined carbohydrates and sugars. Think Chinese take-out.
Good sources of calories
· Foods that do not cause a quick rise in blood sugar should be the focus of the diet. These are known as low-glycemic foods and include animal proteins, nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables and naturally occurring fats. Use grains and beans sparingly (not more than a half cup once a day each).
· Use sugar in the smallest of doses, as you would any true indulgence. All sugar is the same. If you have to ask if something is okay to eat, it probably isn’t!
· Artificial sweeteners trigger sweet receptors and can lead to further cravings. Manufactured and refined foods can never be considered safe and their effect on hunger and metabolism are never positive.
3. The low-fat dogma
Most people still believe you should avoid egg yolks and that eating a low-fat diet will help you lose weight. The old idea that fat has 9 calories per gram and carbs 4 calories per gram led to the mistaken idea that if we cut out fat, we would lose weight.
Harvard scientist Walter Willet reviewed all the science on low fat and weight loss and found that it is not eating fat that makes you fat but sugar. A recent study by David Jenkins found that a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat vegan diet was more effective for weight loss and reducing cardiovascular risk factors than a vegan low-fat diet. The high-fat group lost 4 more pounds and dropped their cholesterol 10 more points by eating high fat.
Other studies show that by eating more fat and less carbohydrate you can increase your metabolism by 300 calories a day (eating the same total calories a day). That is the equivalent benefit to running for an hour a day without getting off the couch.
The good about fat
· Don’t fear fat. It actually makes you feel full, speeds up your metabolism and helps you lose weight.
· Eat good fats at every meal.
· Eat vegetable fats, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut butter or oil
· Eat clean animal fats (organic eggs with the yolk, chicken, grass-fed meats) and fish with omega 3 fats (sardines, herring, wild salmon, black cod).
4. You may need medical support
There are reasons beyond your diet or amount of exercise that affect your weight and metabolism. Your body is a system and many things affect metabolism. The biggest hidden causes of weight grain or resistance to weight loss are the things that cause inflammation.
The causes of inflammation
· Hidden food allergies or sensitivities. Gluten and dairy are the most common culprits. Gluten and dairy free options are not a solution. Gluten-free cakes and cookies are still cake and cookies. They are still very high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
· Digestive problems. The microbiome (the trillions of bacteria in your gut) play an enormous role in your metabolism and health. If you have bad bugs (from eating refined, high-sugar, carb, low-fiber diet or taking antibiotics, acid blockers) they can either trigger inflammation or alter how your food is broken down and absorbed.
· Toxins. Science has discovered that common environmental chemicals (pesticides, household cleaners, make up, pollution and heavy metals) can be problematic and stimulate weight gain or prohibit the ability to effectively lose weight. In animal studies, toxins have been shown to cause weight gain even if they ate the same amount of calories and exercised the same.
Success Principles: Find Hidden Causes of Weight Gain
· Try an elimination diet. Not eliminating calories but getting rid of inflammatory foods. Start with gluten and dairy. 100 percent for 3 weeks.
· Fix your gut. Avoid drugs known to irritate your digestive tract (acid blockers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories). Starve the bad bugs by eating a low-glycemic, low-fermentation (starch) diet. Take probiotics.
· Detox your body and your life. Reduce exposure to environmental and common chemicals. See the resources at the Environmental Working Group to reduce exposures in skin-care products, household products and the food you eat (meat and veggies). Eat two cups of cruciferous veggies a day (broccoli family).
5. You don’t have a plan.
Health is not something that happens to you. It is something you have to plan, like a vacation or your retirement! Failure is often due to lack of designing your health. The conditions for automatic success have not been set up.
How do you design your life so that you don’t have to think about doing the right thing? You create conditions for making it easy – have all the right foods in the house, the right ingredients all ready for your morning protein shake, creating an emergency travel food pack, having your plan for exercise for the week in advance.
Doing things together makes them easier. Everybody needs a buddy! Joining a group of people doing this in person or an online community or group makes it fun and creates higher levels of success.
Find what works for you but don’t expect health to happen. You have to plan for it!
Create your plan
· Commit to designing your health. Do it weekly on a specific day.
· Stock up your car, your desk, your workplace refrigerator with foods friendly to your plan – no excuses!
· Join a community or get a buddy or a friend.
· Create a practice of mindfulness around food, eating and nourishing your body
The science of health and weight loss is not a mystery, but old ideas do die hard. If you look out for these five ways that diets fail and focus on the creating your personal journey of success, you will build habits and practices that work. Health and weight loss need not be a struggle.