No wonder we're confused and no wonder we screw up. Nobody agrees on the best way to diet. One year you're supposed to eat carbohydrates in abundance and cut down on fat; the next year carbohydrates are out of favour, but gobbling up fats and protein is the definitive solution.
But the shocking fact is that every diet plan out there is destined to fail for two simple reasons: it offers a piecemeal solution and ignores the most important aspects of weight control.
The first vital aspect of keeping your weight down is recognizing that you are biochemically individual. Discovering your own biochemical fingerprint is not only one of the keys to good health, but also the key to keeping slim forever.
The second overlooked key to slimming has to do with the quality of the food you eat. This, far more than quantity, will determine whether or not you put on weight.
Chemical additives, and processed and artificial foods and sweeteners all undermine the most careful attention to calories and carbs by interfering with the complex mechanisms of your body and making your body store food as fat.
Here's WDDTY's countdown to a size 10. Follow our top 10 tips for healthy eating for a healthy weight and you'll watch the pounds fall off without having to follow any punishing and food-depriving regime.
10. Discover whether you're a carb or a protein type
Two unlikely dietitians, American dentist and later cancer specialist William Kelley and American psychologist George Watson, made two extraordinary intuitive leaps about dietary individuality. Kelley worked out that the autonomic nervous system, which keeps the basic systems of our body ticking over, not only had 'push-pull' elements to it-a sympathetic system that switches on the organs and glands which use up energy, and a parasympathetic branch that conserves energy and returns the body to a relaxed state-but also that one of the two systems was always dominant. Watson, on the other hand, observed that people differed in their rate of cellular oxidation-the pace at which their body converted food into energy.
Dr William Wolcott, a student of Kelley, added a final touch. People, he realized, had a tendency to be either autonomic-system-dominant or oxidative-system-dominant. This meant that food would have opposite effects in two people of different metabolic types, whether they are 'burners' or 'storers' of food.
Calcium, for instance, would feed the sympathetic system, but inhibit the parasympathetic one. With all foods and nutrients, as Wolcott went on to demonstrate, one man's meat was literally another man's poison.
Protein types tend to burn through carbohydrates quickly and so need more protein and fat to balance energy production. Carb types on the other hand don't efficiently metabolize a high intake of fats and proteins. They must eat proportionately larger amounts of carbohydrates to utilize fats and proteins. Wolcott has devised a simple low-cost ($39 US) online test to determine whether you need more carbs, protein or both (see www.healthexcel.com).
9. Locate any allergies or food sensitivities
As allergy specialist Dr John Mansfield wrote in the November newsstand WDDTY, allergies and food sensitivities are a major cause of overweight. Suspect foods you crave or eat most often, particularly the big eight: wheat, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, the nightshades (like potatoes and tomatoes), yeast and egg. For a definitive list of your food sensitivities, get hold of our November 2012 newsstand magazine and follow the elimination diet. Developing future food sensitivity is more likely if you repetitively eat the same foods, so vary your diet as much as possible.
8. Steer clear of processed food
Avoid anything preserved with nitrates and anything packaged, processed, refined or in any way interfered with. Insulin regulates glucose sugar in blood cells and helps it to enter other body cells to be used as either fuel to burn or stored for future use. People who have high levels of circulating insulin, or 'insulin resistance,' have far more difficulty losing weight than those with normal insulin levels.1 Insulin resistance is brought about by a diet high in processed foods.
7. Eat fresh organic whole foods and cook from scratch
Although cows, sheep and chickens are designed to eat grass, most are fed on cheap grains such as wheat or corn. If you are wheat-, corn- or gluten-intolerant, eating meat fed on grain can exacerbate your food sensitivities which, in turn, can adversely affect your weight. Commercially raised eggs can have improper ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids-essential nutrients for maintaining optimum weight. The ratio of these essential fatty acids (EFAs) in an organically reared chicken is an optimal 1:1 to 1:4, while the EFA ratio of a typical commercially raised chicken egg can be as high as 1:16 to 1:30.
So when you go to smash an egg, make sure that it's both organic and free-range. Rotating your sources of protein (so you don't eat the same thing for at least four days) will minimize the chances of overexposing yourself to pollutants and chemicals.
6. Steer clear of chemicals in your home and environment and don't eat canned food
Research now links obesity to exposure to numerous chemicals in our food and water supply, including bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics and particularly in those that line food and beverage cans.2 Phthalates, the plasticizers used in everything from lubricants to children's toys, are linked with expanding waist sizes and a high body mass index.3
5. Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame
Psychobiologists at Purdue University in Indiana found that artificial sweeteners interfere with the body's natural ability to use the sweet taste of food to gauge its caloric content and so self-regulate its food intake.4 You then get fooled into thinking the food has no calories and overeat. They're not only bad for you, they're self-defeating.
4. Avoid additives and so-called 'diet' foods
Every year you eat roughly your own body weight in food additives, including dyes, flavouring agents, preservatives and emulsifiers. Just like fake sugar, these trick your body's built-in taste control mechanisms regulating your sense of feeling full and so are likely to make you put on weight.
A typical strawberry milkshake at a typical fast-food outlet, for instance, contains some 45 such chemicals and ingredients. "If you like Neapolitan ice cream," American diet and fitness coach Paul Chek once observed, "you'd need a small booklet and a short course in chemistry to even begin to understand what you're eating."
3. Take these fat-regulating supplements
As well as a good multivitamin/mineral with adequate B, C, zinc, magnesium and manganese, take chromium (200 mcg, but no more than 600 mcg a day) to stabilize blood sugar levels.5
Other good diet supplements include Siberian ginseng (100 mg), coenzyme Q10 (25 mg), alpha-lipoic acid (100 mg), green-tea extract (50 mg), and the amino acids N-acetylcysteine, L-carnitine, L-tyrosine, L-arginine, L-glutamine, isoleucine, leucine and valine.
2. Get your gut in good working order
No diet will work if you're not absorbing food nutrients properly. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, get yourself checked out for low stomach acid, a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability), possible Candida yeast overgrowth and parasites (these tests are carried out by Biolab Medical Unit, The Stone House, 9 Weymouth St, London W1N 3FF, tel: 020 7636 5959).
1. Follow the Montignac low-carb diet
Both Stanford University and the Cochrane Collaboration have judged low-carb diets as the most effective.6 But the Atkins and other low-carb diets like the Zone recommend many processed foods and diet drinks, and so in our opinion are not good for you.
In WDDTY's view the Montignac version of the low-carb diet, developed by the late French doctor Michel Montignac, is the most natural, the healthiest and also the easiest to follow. In the weight-loss phase of Montignac's diet, you simply cut out all refined sugar, all other refined white stuff (other than dried pasta) and foods with a glycaemic index over 35. This includes any refined carbs plus cooked vegetables that are grown underground (beetroots, carrots, potatoes). Once you're down to your ideal weight, you need to stick to foods with a GI of 50 or below.
For the full GI list as well as lots of low-GI recipes, go to www.montignac.com.
Now go buy that skimpy little black dress . . .
Vol 23 no 10 January 2013
1. JAMA, 2007; 297: 2092-1022.
2. Environ Health Perspect, 2008; 116: 1642-7
3. Environ Health Perspect, 2007; 115: 876-82
4. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 2004; 28: 933-5; Behav Neurosci, 2008; 122: 161-73
5. J Trace Elem Exp Med, 1999; 12: 71-83
6. JAMA. 2007; 297: 969-77; 298: 178; Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2007; 3: CD005105