Monday, May 9, 2011

Why Diets Don’t Work

Why is it that we are still seeing the epidemic rise is obesity with so many diets to choose from? Is it because all those people just don't care that they are overweight? I don't think so! Billions of dollars are being spent in the weight loss arena, and yet people aren't getting lasting results. Why? Personally, I think it is because people have been sold a lie. Diets don't work - period! Only life style changes can give permanent results, and most folks are so caught up in the eating culture of today, that they aren't willing to make the necessary commitments to garner the results they desire. My biggest challenge as a coach is not to help people lose weight, but to help them retrain their brain so that they can maintain it even after our coaching sessions are over.

We live in a fast-food nation. We expect instant gratification in all areas of life. Few people embrace the idea that it took years to get to where they are, and there is no magic that will give them back their high school figure overnight. Many people jump from one fad diet to another thinking that *this* will be the magic one that will be quick and easy. There is no way that I could cover all the different fad diets because there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of them. I will address a few of the main ones being promoted and what makes them ineffective and unhealthy.

Low Cal

At the top of the list is one that has been around for quite some time. Scientifically it can be supported that the key to success is to simply eat less calories, and move more. From a common sense standpoint it seems like a valid hypothesis. If you can burn more calories than you are consuming, you have to lose weight. While this is true, there are many people who have a "thrifty gene" that kicks in when calories are reduced. Designed to help you survive during a famine, the "thrifty gene" can sabotage your efforts if you are using this method to lose weight. If you are one of those people who have a hard time losing weight no matter what you do, you have probably been blessed with this survival mechanism. Your metabolism will adjust itself to maintain on the caloric intake provided, even if it is less than what is recommended to lose weight. I find it interesting that about 85% of the people who find themselves in this boat have an O blood type. I happen to fall into this category myself so I know your frustration if you can relate to the description above.

Even for those people who *do* lose weight on a low-cal diet, it is not sustainable long term, especially using the pre-packaged, pre-measured, "convenient" snacks and meals that are popular with this diet plan. It also is important to mention that most of these products use artificial sweeteners to lower the calories, and I have already addressed that in a previous blog. Studies show that artificial sweeteners often cause weight gain not to mention that they are neurotoxins. Reducing calories also poses a health risk. Our food is so nutrient depleted that, unless you have a food like Smart Mix in your daily regime, you will quickly find your health failing from lack of basic nutrition. Even those people who stick with a low-cal diet until they reach their goal weight rarely have long term success because it is difficult to maintain it as a lifestyle change. The biggest problem with any diet is the mindset that accompanies them. Diets are designed to get you to your goal, but they don't retrain the brain to help you think like a thin person. The end result – people return to their old habits… and often end up gaining back more than they initially lost.

Low Carb

One of the most popular in this category is the Atkins diet. Our bodies require certain carbohydrates to function properly. A low carb diet will also eventually lead to health challenges, and for most it isn't sustainable… and neither is the weight loss achieved with this method. Once you return to eating a healthy amount of carbohydrates, you will pack back on the pounds. Many of these plans allow the dieter an unlimited amount of proteins and fats, which are difficult for the body to digest, and overload the filter organs. The premise behind the low carb model is that you cause your body to go into ketosis which will induce fat burning. While I would wholeheartedly agree that it is healthy to limit the amount of processed carbs, it is important to not eliminate all carbohydrates from the diet. Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet, with proteins and fats providing the pillars for wellness. Most people will admit that they don't even feel well when the majority of their sustenance comes from proteins. A healthier alternative would be to choose a "slow carb" lifestyle where high glycemic foods are avoided, but complex carbohydrates are still an integral part of the daily menu. Even though it is true that a greater majority will achieve "success" with the low carb diet method, I don't personally know anyone who has adopted a low carb lifestyle and maintained weight loss long term. In fact, I commonly hear from people who readily admit that they were able to lose weight easily with this method, but they gained it back as quickly as they lost it. Diets don't work. Only lifestyle changes do… and in order to make lifestyle changes, you have to find a program that you can live with and one that will help you maintain your health. Overloading your plate with proteins and fats while eliminating almost all carbohydrates is unhealthy. I always tell my clients, "Ask yourself if you are eating in a way that you can live with for the rest of your life." If you aren't, whatever results you get won't be lifetime results.

Low Fat

Diets that fall into this category are the biggest hoax of them all. We have been told for the past 40 years or so that fats are causing us to be fat; fats are causing heart disease, fats are bad for us. We have heard it so much that it will probably be hard for you to change your mindset. There is a great book called, "Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill" that I would highly recommend if you aren't convinced by this short synopsis. If you haven't read my recent blog post on sugar, you might be surprised by what Dr. Lustig reveals in the lecture he recently presented. He supports the notion that fats aren't the cause of obesity or the prevalent health challenges we are facing as a nation. Just like carbohydrates, our bodies need fats. Each of our cells is coated with structures that are formed with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. These structures form the cellular alphabet that allows our cells to communicate with each other. Without an adequate supply of proteins, fats, and certain plant based carbohydrates our immune system won't function properly.

From a health standpoint, the elimination of all the good fats from our diets has wreaked havoc. About 60% of our brain is composed of fat! Getting an adequate amount of good fat in the diet is extremely important for proper brain function. The low fat diets limit the good fats as well as the bad. Some of the popular diet aids on the market tout that they flush all the fat you consume and advertise this as a benefit. We should absolutely eliminate the bad fats. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils should never pass our lips, but unless you want to sacrifice your immune system and proper brain function I strongly recommend avoiding a low fat diet.

What Does Work?

It should be obvious that low fat diets (like low cal diets, and low carb diets) don't work. If they did, we wouldn't be one of the fattest nations on the planet. There is a low-fat or no-fat version of everything… and yet, we are still fat. If your goal is to lose weight AND be healthy, then don't opt for a diet of any variety. Choose to make lifestyle changes. Learn what foods are bad for you and avoid them. Learn what foods are good for you and consume them. Supporting a lifestyle change with a system like the XM3 Weight Management System is not only acceptable, but it is prudent. It supports the body's natural functions and helps you establish routines that will improve your quality of life – and help you live longer. As a weight management coach, I can honestly say you won't find a healthier, quicker way to achieve your weight loss goals.

No comments: