Diets Don't Work
Therapists who have worked with overweight patients have
stories of spectacular initial successes, with equally spectacular relapses
weeks or months later. Obviously, there are unsolved problems in the weight-loss
business. Thousands of weight-loss schemes have been marketed; some are sincere
but flawed schemes; others are frankly fraudulent. Some estimates of cost
suggest over 30 billion dollars a year is spent in the USA alone on weight loss
attempts; a lot of money for a 90% failure rate.
The truth is now known. Most weight loss efforts
succeed for a while and then fail. Dieters know the yo-yo pattern; you gain, you
lose, you gain again. Some angry women proclaim, "Diets don't work!" Despite the
sobering evidence that weight reduction diets are flawed, diet gurus magazine
articles and diet books appear in a continuing stream. There are no new
ideas in these books, but old ideas and mostly wrong ideas recur in new
Carbohydrates are often blamed for weight gain and high
fat, high protein diets have been promoted for 50 years and books proclaiming
weight loss success are re-issued year after year without any reassurance that
these diets are healthy or safe. The overwhelming conclusion of research in the
20th century shows that diets rich in plant foods and low in animal fat and
proteins are the best diets for health from all points of view. The long-term
consequences of high protein, high fat diets are well known; you get all the bad
diseases that characterize modern civilization such as cancer, heart disease,
strokes, diabetes and, yes obesity as well.
This is not to argue that you could not lose weight on a
high protein, high fat diet. You can lose weight by any method of reducing
caloric intake, but that weight loss may not be relevant to your long-term
success. It is to argue that you would be making a mistake if you lived on a
high protein, high fat diet for many years. The advantage of fat and protein
intake is that you feel full and the feeling of satiety may last for a few
hours. We have used the satiety feature of proteins foods in designing Alpha ENF
and Alpha DMX, formulas that use amino acids to produce the feeling of satiety.
The formula effect is shorter acting, however, than eating a large fatty steak.
The best idea seems to be to add enough fat and protein to a plant-based meal to
Carbohydrates are not bad. Carbohydrates are good. Insulin
in the right amounts is not bad. The right amount of insulin at the right time
and the right place is good. Insulin does not make you hungry, but low
blood sugar might contribute to hunger. If blood sugar levels drop too low, you
feel weak, tremulous and are desperate to eat something. The regulation of blood
sugar levels is tied to appetite regulation for sure, but there is no simple
correlation between carbohydrate intake and obesity.
Pittas et al compared a high glycemic index,
high-carbohydrate diet with a low-GI/low-carbohydrate diet resulted in
comparable weight loss and increase in insulin sensitivity in 34 overweight
participants. Both diets in the randomized, double-blind trial were designed to
achieve 30% calorie restriction and followed recommendations for "healthy
eating." The high carbohydrate diet was 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20%
fat. The low-carbohydrate diet was 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat.
Both groups achieved a 10% reduction in BMI and 20% increase in insulin
sensitivity. Dansinger et al. compared 4 popular diets (Atkins, Zone,
Weight Watchers, and Ornish) for weight loss and cardiac risk factor reduction.
and found that each diet modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk
factors at 1 year. Overall dietary adherence rates were low. Increased adherence
was associated with greater weight loss and cardiac risk factor reductions for
each diet group.
The truth is that no one really understands how and why
weight control mechanisms in the body fail to work properly. Appetite and weight
regulation is complex and varies from person to person. While there are some
very general rules, there are many exceptions to the rules. The solution to
obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease lies more in the
choice what foods you eat, how they are cooked, and how much you eat. The idea
that you can predict the outcome of eating specific foods by the knowing the
carbohydrate, fat, protein ratios is misleading.
No matter what other argument seems appealing, the single
enduring fact of healthy nutrition is that a diet rich in plant foods works
best. Some plant foods such as wheat, however, may cause severe disease in
people who are susceptible, so that no generalization will work for everyone.
While weight, loss is not exclusively a women's issue,
women more than men have been involved in the guilt and shame of weight gain.
Success at weight loss became a moral victory for many women who felt guilty
about their weight gain. Unfortunately, weight loss success is short-lived and
up to 90% of the attempts eventually fail. Failure leads to more guilt and
Research has shown several important features of body weight management.
There are powerful biological controllers of eating
behaviors, appetite and weight regulation.
There are genetic tendencies toward excess weight and there
may well be an obesity gene.
The diet is flawed - there is too much fat and sugar in
favorite foods; fat food is abundant and eating has become entertainment - a bad
idea if you want to stay slim.
The lifestyle is also flawed - there is too much leisure
and convenience and too little physical work.
Addictive eating patterns are common and are controlled by