Eating to lose weight
First let me start off by saying that what I am writing is meant as a general guideline and that anyone following a new eating plan should really be under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional with a background in nutrition. Also, if you have any pertinent health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension etc; your family physician should be informed of any changes you are making to your lifestyle.
I will start with a little story about my stepdad. He is a typical 72 year old; retired engineer, whose hobbies include collecting knives, walking and smoking the odd cigar. He has been overweight for as long as I have known him and it was not uncommon for him to be walking around at 245-250 pounds. He walks everyday for about an hour which would burn in the neighbourhood of 300 calories and has almost as much of a sweet tooth as I do. His weight has been stable for the last several years and he follows the typical carb-based North American diet, with cereal in the morning, yogurt and a sandwich at lunch and a dinner with his delicious wild salmon or halibut that he fishes for himself.
Three months ago, John decided to start eating a more paleo style diet. He basically eliminated a lot of bread, pasta and other carbohydrates. He has included more fruit and vegetables to his diet and for one example, instead of the sandwich for lunch he has a nutrition packed smoothie including almond milk, fruit, low sugar yogurt and a vegetable based protein supplement. He has made no other changes including no increase in activity. The results? He requires a whole new wardrobe. John has lost nearly 20 pounds in a nice steady fashion and has not made great sacrifices in his lifestyle. He has simply eliminated most of the carb based processed foods. This is not a diet, it is simply a different way of eating. He has also not been 100% disciplined the whole time and allows himself to venture off occasionally.
It is now being widely accepted that sugar and carbohydrates are the primary driver to an increasing obesity problem in North America. The saying now goes: “fat doesn’t make you fat”. But sugar does. In fact a new research article was just released this week regarding this. Here is a link to the information.
The key to long term weight loss is not a diet. It is healthy eating with a focus on fruits and vegetables, limited processed (very limited) carbohydrates and reasonable portions of healthy protein sources. If you are not vegetarian, it is highly beneficial to have your meat be grass fed, which is another article altogether.
Programs that advertise rapid weight loss are rarely effective in the long term and contribute to the yo-yo dieting that many people endure. I am reminded of a recent, very succinct twitter line I came by “Want to lose 15 pounds in 3 days? No you don’t.
Dr. Marc Nimchuk