Been there—done that! Yes, I am talking about weight loss and supposedly improving health through diet.
We all start with the best intentions and actually lose weight. Sometimes maybe even lot of weight. But inevitably, we fall into the 95% group and we gain it back –and more. What did we do and why didn’t it work? We cut calories and walked daily. After all, isn’t the way to lose weight to create a calorie deficit? And isn’t a calorie a calorie?
The public health status regarding weight as it stands now
In the United States, obesity and overweight are out of control. More than a third of the population is obese, and 77% of the population is obese or overweight. When looking at the world stats, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, 4.7 million people died prematurely in 2017 because of obesity. To put this into context: this was close to four times the number that died in road accidents.
Regarding the world population, 40% are overweight or obese. We live in a time when too much food (and the wrong kinds of food) has replaced starvation and hunger as the biggest food related problem.
So, if dieting and general calorie restriction—the main way people have tried to lose weight for the last half century—are so effective, why does obesity and its terrible effect on health continue to get worse?
I’ve worked in the field of weight loss for more than 22 years. At least I can say that I have learned from the mistakes. I have always tried to follow science. The problem is, much of what we have been told over the last 50 years isn’t really good science. It’s based on studies that are sponsored by big food and big pharm. These studies are set up to give the result the sponsors want to see. An examination of these studies shows a 96% rate of reaching the desired conclusion—sounds suspicious to me!
About 7 years ago I began delving into the real science. I took special interest in this during the last 3 years. Guess what? There is good reason for our failures at weight loss. Here’s why!
Weight loss is not solely dependent on calories
The science behind weight loss is complex and complicated. But here is what matters the most: What you eat, as opposed to how much you eat. The “what” is the biggest player. Next on the list of big players are hydration, sleep quality, the times you eat, and stress. Knowing what to eat makes the weight loss process easier.
All of you dieters know that counting calories or measuring portions along with all the food preparation is a big burden. Isn’t it easier to know, “I can eat a lot of group X foods, a little of group Y, and keep the junk food basically out of my diet”?
The right way to lose weight
Keep your eating mostly plant based.
This means you can eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (preferably the intact ones), beans, lentils, with some nuts and seeds (don’t overdo the nuts and seeds). No worrying about the calories or portion sizes. Choose foods that are high in fiber and nutritionally dense. Just eat and enjoy—and yes, that includes baked potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Eat animal protein, like meat, chicken, or fish, occasionally.
Be sure to keep the amount as if it is a small side dish.
Desserts should be fruit or maybe some nuts.
Highly processed foods should be eliminated. Your standard store-bought cakes, cookies, pies, candies, and pop-in-the-toaster items need to be out of the diet. There are healthy versions you can make at home.
Keep oils in your food close to zero.
I don’t know if in today’s world we can get to zero, but try your best. In the U.S., over the last one hundred years the consumption of oil has jumped about 10 times. Oil is a food that is 100% fat, no matter which kind of oil. There are 4,000 calories a pound of oil—the highest ratio of any food on the planet!
Stop eating early each evening.
Give your system at least 12 hours off of food overnight.
Changing your mindset
Eating a diet that is at least 80% whole food, plant based, is aimed at preventing and even reversing disease. With this type of eating, the weight will just come off. When weight loss becomes the main focus, we end up doing crazy things that backfire in the long term. Remember, the type of food you eat is the biggest player. Also, cutting way down on the inflammatory foods, like animal protein and highly processed foods, will bring good, healthy and sustainable weight loss.
When you think about eating any food, ask yourself, “is this food fighting disease or feeding disease?” Concentrate on the WHAT and not on the HOW MUCH!
Eating this way will “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”