Happy 2019 everyone! With the new year comes new year resolutions and with new year resolutions often come the quest for the best diet. With so many diets and conflicting recommendations from experts regarding the best diet for us, it can become extremely confusing. The desire to lose weight, is nothing new to humans. For centuries, people all over the world have always been trying to lose weight using various popular diet plans. Some of these food rules have lead to amazing outcomes, some outrageous and some utterly dangerous. Let’s look at, for example, the Tapeworm Diet; you are instructed to eat meat-infested with tapeworms still in their infancy. The tapeworms mature in your body and then sticks to your digestive tract, and then they start consuming most of the meals you eat. It is intended for you to lose weight, as some people claim. Then, there is also the Cabbage Soup Diet. Nothing wrong with a good bowl of cabbage soup once in a while. But to eat it habitually? Not very healthy or encouraging to say the least.
Some people follow these diets, and immediately drop significant amounts of weight and keep off the weight for years. Others strictly follow these diets and may lose some weight initially and then either plateau and later on, put on more weight, or lose very little weight. The question here is, why does this happen? Why do some people lose more weight on these diets faster than others? Taking into consideration your present goals, your daily routine, your stress level, what you like to eat, when you can go to sleep, when you can exercise, when you can take time off work, etc, what diet can work best for you? To answer these questions, let us look at some popular schools of thought from industry nutrition/weight loss experts.
In his book Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It, Gary Taubes, an award winning investigative journalist, suggests that due to our significant intake of carbohydrates as a society, we dangerously flood our blood with sugar/glucose, which drives up our insulin and causes us to store fat and keep gaining weight. His recommendation is to cut back on carbohydrates and processed foods in order to lose weight. This closely goes hand in hand with the Ketogenic Diet which singles out carbohydrates as the single culprit, that is making us fat.
Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It:
On the contrary, Dr. John McDougall, a physician and nutrition expert, totally disagrees with Gary Taubes. Dr. McDougall insists humans are not supposed to eat animals. He explains that the main reasons why we cannot lose fat faster and easier is because human beings continue to eat other animals and meat products, have generally cut back on starches (rice, corn, potatoes, fruits, vegetables) due to low carb message, are always adding various oils in their meals. Dr. McDougall suggests we should eat more carbs in their natural forms, avoid cooking with oils and keep animals off our plates in order for us to lose weight easier.
In his book The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers In Healthy Foods That Cause Disease And Weight Gain, Dr. Steven Gundry, a cardiologist and heart surgeon, makes the case for lectins found in plants, as the culprit for the rise in obesity. Lectins are simply proteins found in plants (beans, potatoes, whole wheat, tomatoes, peppers, etc) that act as their defense mechanisms. He suggests that these lectins stick to sugars and creates spaces in intestinal walls, allowing unwanted toxins and undigested foods to cross into the human bloodstream. The consequences here is mainly chronic inflammation from improper digestion. When your nutrients are not properly digested, you get fat. Taking out gluten still may leave in lectins. So, according to Dr. Gundry, gluten free foods are not the answer to weight loss. They have to be gluten free and lectin free.
The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers In Healthy Foods That Cause Disease:
Now let us look at the idea of the human Microbiome. In his book The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, Dr. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, attributes the challenges or difficulties of weight loss to the fact that we fail to feed our bacteria properly. The microbiome is a collection of organisms (bacteria, viruses, yeast and fungi) that reside on your skin externally or inside of your body internally. Every human being has a different and unique microbiome, even twins. These bacteria (which is the part of the microbiome we mostly talk about), help in digesting our food, build our immune system, determine and improve our brain function, among other crucial functions for the human body. So for you to keep your microbiome alive, well and functioning efficiently, you need to feed it the right foods. This includes varied fruits, vegetables, diverse sources of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats and fermented foods. This is where proper probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements come in play. If we do not know how to feed and grow our individual microbiome, our metabolism slows down and we tend to store fat easily.
The Myth Diet: The Real Science Behind What We Eat
Personally, when I eat wheat products, my stomach cramps terribly and I feel hungry about one hour after eating regardless of which protein or healthy fat I pair the wheat food with. My daughter, who is highly allergic to so many foods, reacts badly to gluten-free foods which are supposed to be healthy for everyone. Some people get hungry within two hours after eating a supposedly healthy meal prescribed by their nutritionist. So what is all this telling us as a global community regarding living healthy and choosing the best diets for each of us? Since our health and nutrition experts do not all agree on one single culprit causing obesity rates to rise yearly, one is forced to conclude that, there is no one-size- fits-all diet when it comes to weight loss. Generalized meal plans can be used as a guide but not used as a solution for all. The best diet is the healthy diet consisting of meals that leaves you satisfied for hours, and has the right amount of calories you need to keep losing weight for as long you desire. Honest feedback to nutrition coaches and dietitians are of great help and importance during your weight loss journey. If the prescribed diet is leaving you hungry, stressed and tired, your coach needs to know. It then becomes the responsibility of your health coach to either recommend a complete change in your diet, or take out some foods from your diet that may be causing your weight to plateau or standstill.
My conclusion and recommendation is simple. There is no one diet that works for everyone. Take a look at the work of Dr. Eran Elinav and Dr. Eran Segal, both professors at the famous Weizmann Institute of Science, in their book, The Personalized Diet: A Revolutionary Plan to Help You Lose Weight, Prevent Disease and Feel Incredible. They suggest that, what is healthy for one person, may be unhealthy for the next person. They help the reader customize and personalize their diets to lose weight and improve their health. No matter how popular the diet is, it may not be the diet for you. May be one important goal for you this year is to focus on finding your own diet. The one that works for you. Best of luck.
The Personalized Diet: A Revolutionary Plan to Help You Lose Weight, Prevent Disease and Feel Incredible:
WLS, FNS (NASM)