Weight Loss: The Diet De Jour

This discussion on weight loss is meant to be thought provoking. People are led by their emotional side more than their rational side when discussing weight loss, which, in my opinion, fuels the epidemic that we’re facing in this country. At the end of this blog, I will provide some solutions. These are very strongly steeped in evidence from hundreds of thousands of people, yet you won’t find testimonials as that is not what you get from research, not what you get from lifelong healthy living and sustainable weight loss.

Weight Loss Stats to Consider

We’re over half way through January. This is when new years diets and motivation usually start to wain. It’s understandable as it seems as though there’s at least one new diet everyday, the diet de jour.  With so many diets and so many testimonials how can this new program, gadget, or product not produce miracles? If it doesn’t, there’s another to try tomorrow! Dr. David Katz referred to them as “fantasy diets” in his recent article for US News. The same addition of US News also reveals the top diets for weight loss, healthy eating, healthy hearts, and more. It appears it’s important to choose your diet based on the results you want from weight loss. The next statistics may seem discouraging, but don’t despair, there are solutions, which I’ll share a little later.

In 2011, the diet industry was a $61 billion dollar industry. In this same year, in all but one state, adult overweight and obesity rates were greater than 20%, with NOT ONE state decreasing their rates of overweight and obesity. Twelve states are now above 30% in obesity rates, and the rates of type 2 diabetes are growing right beside the obesity rates. As recently as ten years ago, no state had overweight and obesity rates above 24% and now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state with the highest rates in 2000. You don’t have to be intelligent to recognize that Americans are wasting their money! I’m not saying that no one is successful with these programs or products, as some of the industry leaders produce a healthy bottom line because they actually guide customers to their goals of improved quality of life with lifelong weight management. However the majority of the industry is in the business of weight loss, business and profits as their main goal and capitalizing on the latest trends and fads. Our First Amendment allows people and companies to say anything, regardless of merit.

How Far Will You Go to Lose Weight?

I will go so far as to say, in my professional opinion, one of the main reasons people struggle with maintaining weight loss is they invest (regardless of the amount) in weight loss instead of investing time and resources in what they desire from weight loss and sustainability. Often, people check out of a program before the weight maintenance phase. However, an effective weight management program is interwoven into the weight loss phase. I will theorize that part of the overweight and obesity epidemic is based on so much misinformation and people latching on to the latest trend, testimonial or fad which is destined to leave them at a higher weight than when they started the diet. “Diets” are one size fits all, rigid rule oriented, and if weight maintenance was as easy as telling someone what they should do and what they have to do by specific program rules then, honestly, who would struggle with their weight?

Some of the most popular trends right now are dangerous and it’s amazing to me that intelligent people completely give in to their emotional side. People will inject chemicals (nothing you inject is “natural”) into their body, take pills and supplements often laden with herbal laxatives, give up their favorite foods forever (again), and blame a food or ingredient for their weight and health issues.

Very low calorie diets, those below 800 calories, will result in quick weight loss, and they come with a high risk. The popular trend is 500 calories and accompanied by vitamin and/or HCG shots. HCG is a hormone secreted in pregnancy, really? For weight loss? Think people. And if you are justifying using these hormones or following these diets, look at the FDA website on this one. Keep in mind, a medical doctor overseas these programs, a professional who took an oath to do no harm, makes you wonder if they sold out in only this area of their practice or if it spills over to other areas. Here is a part of what is on the FDA website.

“HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity.  There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

FDA has received reports of serious adverse events associated with the use of HCG injections for weight loss including cases of pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest, and death.

The Villain Food

Regardless of what the food or food group that is the target of the latest diet craze, the plan where people “feel better” remains the same. Gluten is the latest nutrient to be villainized. Ask your rational side, Is your weight loss or feeling good the result of giving up gluten or is it that you’ve stopped eating large portions of foods that are highly processed or served with high calorie toppings, and you’ve added lean protein and lots of nourishing and energizing veggies? Is it that you gave up gluten (or choose another nutrient like sugar) or that you are choosing healthier foods in their more natural state?

What’s Real in Sustainable Weight Loss?

plateA lifelong realistic plan is one that is based on whole foods, mindful eating, movement, and is doable. A realistic plan is one small step at a time until you are no longer interested in taking anymore steps and then you stay where you’re at vs. retracing your steps. These tips are what is learned from the National Weight Control Registry, and every multiple year population study, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, LOOK AHEAD, ICAN and more, resulting in long term weight maintenance, health (reversal or prevention of diabetes, heart disease and other lifestyle related diseases) and improved quality of life. The next blog will give tips on how to add these steps in your life.There is MUCH information on what works for weight and health maintenance, however it’s not quick and easy. There will always be a debate on the “best” diet for weight loss, but are you looking for weight loss or are you looking for a smaller size, crossing your legs, bending over without losing your breath, energy, and more self confidence.

  • Breakfast really is an important meal.
  • Take one step at a time focus on goal achievement vs. weight loss.
  • Increase fruits and vegetables- consume 7 to 9 servings each day.
  • Choose 1-3 ounces of lean protein at most meals not exceeding 6 ounces of animal protein each day.
  • Movement is key- move every hour, exercise for 30 minutes or more every day.
  • Eat and live in a mindful way. Appreciate the gifts in your life, savor the moments, and enjoy.
  • Participate in <10 hours of recreational screen time, includes big and little screens.
  • Live by your values.