You will never get in shape through diet, and you will never control your weight through exercise.
A little explanation here. My office is beginning a “Biggest Loser” style challenge this week, and this post is in support. Yes, I know everybody sensible did their posts on this topic at the beginning of the year. Perhaps this will help those at risk of falling off the New Years Resolution bandwagon. It’s never too late to start new, good habits. Those of you who have sworn off diets permanently should feel free to scroll down to the closing bits.
Part One: Diet
I know I’ve said this a number of times, but every weight loss diet that works demands that you sharply limit — if not completely eliminate — added sugars from your diet.
In the 70s and 80s, people could lose weight on a low-fat diet. It worked because people on these diets knew they couldn’t eat cookies, candies and cakes. They knew they couldn’t eat most sauces. They knew they had to eat plenty of vegetables. Dean Ornish never, ever said you could lose weight by switching from Snickers to Twizzlers. Then the Food Industry started making food-like chemistry sets with words like “low fat” and “fat free” in the name. Suddenly these people could eat cookies, candies, and cakes and pretend they were still following a diet. These people did not lose weight, and many of them decided that fat free diets don’t work.
In the 90s, people could lose weight on a low-carbohydrate diet. It worked because people on these diets knew they couldn’t eat cookies, candies and cakes. They knew they had to avoid added sugar in everything from turkey lunch-meat to yogurt to spaghetti sauce (which they could put on a nice chicken filet but not spaghetti). They knew that pasta was nothing more than pressed flour (yum?). People who actually read up on the subject before charging off to the meat counter knew they had to eat plenty of veggies. Then the Food Industry started making food-like chemical sets with words like “low carb” and “sugar free” in the name. Suddenly these people could eat cookies, candies, and cakes and pretend they were still following a diet. These people did not lose weight, and many of them decided that low carb diets don’t work.*
I’ve known people who lost weight on a vegan diet. It worked because people on these diets knew they couldn’t eat cookies, candies and cakes. They knew they had to eat lots of vegetables and actually think about where their protein is coming from. I’ve known other vegans who depend too much on food-like chemistry sets to simulate eating food that they shouldn’t be eating such as cheeseburgers. They don’t lose weight.
Recently, people have been having a lot of success losing weight on a gluten free diet. It worked because people on these diets knew they couldn’t eat cookies, candies and cakes. They know that they have to look carefully in ingredient lists for things that might contain gluten, and for some of them this is a matter of life and death. Now I see “gluten free bakeries” and all kinds of chemistry lab crap labeled “gluten free and I see the end of gluten free dieting on the horizon.
See a pattern here?
Nobody will ever lose weight eating cookies, candies, cake, ice cream, or sweetened fizzy drinks. On the other hand, most people will have a hard time losing weight on the food-like chemistry sets that the Food Industry tries to sell people who are on a diet. The purpose of “diet food” is to get you to buy more of it, and you won’t do that anymore if you lose weight and get on a sensible weight maintenance program. Which brings me to another interesting point: if after losing weight, you go back to eating the crap that made you fat in the first place, you will gain back every pound you lost.
Success lies in a sensible path: no added sugars; plenty of water; plenty of veggies; sensible use of quality fats; fewer food-like chemistry sets and more real food; pay attention to what you are eating and don’t eat more calories than you use; only eat stuff worth eating, and then only if you are hungry. I don’t think there’s a nutrition expert in the world that will disagree with these points, unless they are paid to do so.
* The new twist on this is Paleo or Primal eating, which goes back to the idea that processed food (including corn syrup) is bad, grains and legumes are suspicious, and if a caveman wouldn’t have known it was food you should probably not eat it. Some mistakenly see this as “all the protein I can stuff in my pie-hole, and then put some bacon on it.” They probably aren’t really eating as many veggies as would be desirable.