weight lossTag Archives

Challenging the current diet advice paradigm

I am currently rereading “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by Gary Taubes. I saw Gary Taube’s lecture online in Dr. Mercola’s article, “These Vilified Foods Help Build Hormones and Tame Your Appetite,” and wanted to review his book. Gary reported on how the low-fat advice for heart health became a government recommendation. Back in 1984, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute launched a massive health campaign. “At the time, the NHLBI experts lacked confidence in the fat/heart-disease connection, for good reason: the institute had spent $115 million on a huge, decade-long clinical trial to test the idea that eating less saturated fat would curb heart disease, but not a single heart attack had been prevented. This could have been taken as reason to abandon the idea entirely, but the institute had also spent $150 million testing the benefits of a cholesterol-lowering drug, and this second trial had succeeded. So the institute’s administrators took a leap of faith, as one of them, Basil Rifkind, later described it: They had spent twenty years and an inordinate amount of money trying to demonstrate that cholesterol-lowering, low-fat diets would prevent heart disease, Rifkind explained, and they had, up until then, failed. Trying again would be too expensive and would take at least another decade, even if the institute could afford it. But once they had compelling evidence that lowering cholesterol with a drug would save lives, it seemed like a good bet that a low-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet would as well. ‘It’s an imperfect world,’ Rifkind had said. ‘The data that would be definitive are ungettable, so you do your best with what is available.’” They declared the diet study to be flawed and went ahead with their health campaign.

But here’s the thing: the effect of a drug is not limited to the purpose it was developed for. When the cholesterol lowering drug trial succeeded, it was assumed that the cause of the success was the lowering of the cholesterol, but that may not actually be the case. In 2003, the American Heart Association reported this: “Statins Promote Potent Systemic Antioxidant Effects Through Specific Inflammatory Pathways.” In the conclusion, they state, “Statins promote potent systemic antioxidant effects through suppression of distinct oxidation pathways. The major pathways inhibited include formation of myeloperoxidase-derived and nitric oxide–derived oxidants, species implicated in atherogenesis. The present results suggest potential mechanisms that may contribute to the beneficial actions of statins.” So now we have a major health organization reporting a cause of benefit for statins other than its cholesterol lowering effects. Given that multiple studies have not shown a heart health benefit for following a cholesterol-lowering low-fat diet, perhaps the original NHLBI study on low-fat diets was not flawed after all. In other words, following a low-fat diet may not actually be heart-healthy as we’ve been led to believe for the past nearly 30 years.

A closer look at the effects of a low-fat diet reveal that the opposite may be the case. A low-fat high-carbohydrate diet will:

  • decrease HDL cholesterol
  • increase triglycerides
  • increase the harmful small dense LDL cholesterol while decreasing the large fluffy healthy LDL cholesterol
  • increase insulin in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of insulin insensitivity and metabolic syndrome

The A TO Z Weight Loss Study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007, gives an indication of what may actually be the best diet for losing weight and improving heart health. The winner in the study surprised even the researchers. This study compared four diets: the Atkins diet, a traditional low-fat diet, the Ornish diet, and the Zone diet. Those on the Atkins diet lost the most weight, and they had the best results for heart disease risk factors. Keep in mind that the Atkins dieters did this while eating as much food as they wanted while those on the other diets were restricting their calories. “The point man on this trial was Christopher Gardner, director of Nutrition Studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. Gardner presented the results of the trial in a lecture that’s now viewable on YouTube—“The Battle of Weight Loss Diets: Is Anyone Winning (at Losing)?” He begins the lecture by acknowledging that he’s been a vegetarian for twenty-five years. He did the study, he explains, because he was concerned that a diet like the Atkins diet, rich in meat and saturated fat, could be dangerous. When he described the triumph of the very low-carbohydrate, meat-rich Atkins diet, he called it ‘a bitter pill to swallow.’”

Video: Gary Taubes—Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It

Video: Christopher Gardner—The Battle of Weight Loss Diets: Is Anyone Winning (at Losing)?

Choosing dietary fats

Dietary fats are not all the same.  Some can be harmful while others are quite healthy. Some contribute to inflammation, some ease it.  Omega-3 in particular is noted for its anti-inflammatory properties.  I definitely would NOT recommend vegetable oil such as from soy or corn.  It contains too much omega-6 fat, which causes inflammation.  That type of fat will also suppress your immune system and contribute to cancer.  I don’t tend to eat much of those at all, unless I’m eating in a restaurant that prepares the food with vegetable oils.  I don’t use them at home.  Animal fat from pasture-raised meat and dairy, olive oil, and coconut oil don’t contain much omega-6, so they should all be fine.  In fact, these kinds of oils can help the immune system and protect against cancer.  The type of fats you choose will make a difference in weight as well.  Pig farmers tried using coconut oil to fatten their pigs.  It didn’t work.  The pigs stayed lean.  Then they switched to vegetable oil, and the pigs got fat.

Determining when you’re done with weight loss

At some point in the weight loss process, you’ve got to move into maintenance mode.  Dieting would become a problem if you did not stop and became underweight.  If your significant other thinks you’re thin enough now, I would definitely take that into consideration.  After all, doesn’t what they find desirable count for something?  Also, most people tend to be most critical of themselves.  What you see in the mirror may not be what others are seeing.  This is one of the ways that anorexics go astray.  They see fat in the mirror when in truth they look skeletal.  Such perception actually has a name: body dysmorphic disorder.  If others are telling you that you’re thin enough already and you’ve got a healthy BMI, consider that maybe they’re right.  There’s an article available for calculating ideal weight, if you’d like to check it out.  It’s here.  The last method is a military method that takes into consideration one’s body measurements.

High-fat diet best for weight loss

There was a study done in 1956 comparing weight loss on diets of differing macronutrient content. The diets were all 1,000 calories. One was 90% carbohydrate, another was 90% protein, another was 90% fat, with the last being a mixed diet. Those on the 90% fat diet lost the most weight, with those on the 90% protein diet coming in as a close second. Those on the 90% carbohydrate diet lost the least, and some of those even gained weight.

A. Kekwick M.A., M.B. Camb., F.R.C.P. , G.L.S. Pawan B.Sc. Lond. Calorie intake in relation to body-weight changes in the obese. The Lancet, Volume 268, Issue 6935, Pages 155 – 161, 28 July 1956.

The Naturally Slender Eating Strategy

A lot of us have problems with our weight because our eating strategy goes something like this:

See food → Eat

Or maybe it’s something like:

Feel uncomfortable in any way → Eat

Have you ever wondered how thin people decide when and what to eat? In my readings, I found exactly that. It was in a Neuro-Linguistic Programming book, Heart of the Mind: Engaging Your Inner Power to Change With Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Connirae Andreas and Steve Andreas. The author of this chapter of the book is naturally slim. She did not realize that fat people thought of food differently until she elicited the eating strategy of one of them in a seminar. She was surprised how simple it was (See food → Eat). Here’s the strategy she taught the person to use instead, which is her own:

The Naturally Slender Eating Strategy

  1. First, something makes me think of food. This might be seeing that it’s time for lunch, hearing someone mention lunch, feeling hunger, or seeing food.
  2. I check how my stomach feels now.
  3. I ask myself, “What would feel good in my stomach?
  4. I visualize a possible portion of a food: a sandwich, a bowl of soup, a dinner salad, etc.
  5. I imagine eating this food. I think of the taste of this food, and then feel the food slipping into my stomach, and get a feeling of how this amount of this food will feel in my stomach over time if I eat it now.
  6. If I like this feeling better than how I will feel if I eat no food at all, I keep this food item as one possibility. If not, I discard it.
  7. Next I visualize another food I might eat.
  8. I imagine tasting this second item, and feel how it feels as it goes into my stomach, and stays in my system for some hours to come.
  9. I notice how I like this feeling. Do I like it more than my best choice so far? I keep in mind the food item that makes me feel best, to compare my next choice.
  10. Now I repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 as often as I want to, always keeping in mind the kind of food that I imagine would make me feel the best over time if I eat it. I compare each new possibility to that.
  11. When I’m satisfied that I have considered enough options, I eat the food that I imagined would make me feel best over time, so that I’ll get to feel that good.

She says to a “naturally slim” person, this strategy would seem obvious. She says that she does sometimes eat fattening things, but usually in small portions. She says that what keeps her from eating fattening things more often is that, when she thinks about it, she knows that those things will make her feel physically worse over time. The object of the strategy is to feel good. She says that when she has taught this strategy to others, they eventually become slim themselves.

She uses a similar strategy to decide when to stop eating: will the next bite make me feel better or worse?

I think I will have a good chance of staying slim in the future because I have found myself using similar strategies more and more in the last couple of years. I still have my moments when taste wins out, though. Now that I have found this strategy, I plan to use it more consciously.

Hypnotherapy for weight loss

Hypnotherapy can be useful for changing the thoughts and habits relating to diet and weight loss.  Weight loss tends to be more complex than other issues brought to hypnotherapy and takes more sessions, but results are generally good.  There are a great many habits surrounding eating.  People who use hypnosis as part of their weight loss program tend to keep the weight off longer.  Hypnosis can also be used to reduce specific cravings that can interfere with following a diet plan.  We had a class demonstration once where the instructor demonstrated how to reduce the appeal of a particular food.  This person enjoyed potato chips and would buy them whenever she stopped at a gas station.  The instructor worked on changing the way she “sees” potato chips using NLP techniques.  We checked in with her in the next few weeks, and she had stopped eating potato chips.

When you choose a hypnotherapist, make sure they have adequate training and credentials.  There is no licensing for hypnotherapists.  Various organizations certify hypnotherapists, but the qualifications vary a great deal.  Typical training for hypnotherapists can range from a weekend course to a year-long program including an internship.

Because being overweight has possible medical causes, a hypnotherapist should ask you to provide a medical referral before he works on weight loss if you are obese.  Any time you are planning a major dietary change, it is recommended to work with a doctor, no matter your age or how healthy you think you are.

You can find out more about hypnotherapy for weight loss here.