This leads me in to the next topic of importance; dieting.  I will not go into the intimate details about weight loss and dieting because anyone wanting to lose weight will probably be able to do so by just following the concepts outlined in this book.  After all, this is a book about how to be healthy, presumably written for people that aren’t.  So if you are overweight and want to shed a few pounds, abiding by the ideas found in this book may be all you need to meet your goals.  However, in the same breath let me say that this book does not close the door on other dieting programs.   Some dieting programs will build on the ideas already set forth here, and that is fine.  Nonetheless, beware of “diets” that stray from the basics found herein.  The best program out there is outlined in one of our sister websites.

There are a lot of fads and hype in regard to dieting.  Let me clear some of this up.  I have dealt with many people interested in losing weight and found that there is almost always a common link.  First, they aren’t very active; this will be addressed later.  Second, they only eat once or twice a day, believing eating less food will reduce fat.  Well, if you eat less food, then your body has no choice but to burn fat, right?  WRONG!  When your body is fed infrequently, your brain’s response is to slow the rate at which you burn calories and to store what it can.  It still has to use some calories to run your human machinery, but some of those may come from muscle tissue proteins.  So the result is loss in muscle and an INCREASE in fat stores.  Here’s an analogy to explain why:

Pretend for a minute that you live in a pygmy tribe in Africa and have to hunt and gather your food.  A drought is in progress and food is scarce.  You get lucky and happen on a small animal, which you are able to kill.  What do you do (if you’re smart about it)?

1)     Eat the whole thing? or…

2)     Eat only what you need and save the rest (since you don’t know when your next meal will come)?

Now imagine you are in America, you are middle class and obtaining food is as easy as driving to the store.  You go to Subway and buy a sandwich with all the ‘fixins.’  Do you…

1)     Eat the whole thing? or…

2)     Eat only what you need and save the rest (even though you are more than certain that your next meal will come whenever you want it)?

If you have any common sense, you will realize that storing food is the smart thing to do when you can’t be sure when you will eat next.  On the other hand, storing food for later makes very little sense when food is abundant and there is no doubt when your next meal will be.  Well, your brain “thinks” the same way.  If you eat infrequently, your brain triggers responses to use as little energy as possible and save what it can (in the form of fat).  However, if you eat all the time (not necessarily a lot of food, but frequently) your brain triggers a response to use more energy (burn calories) and to store less fat.  Just like the preceding scenarios, your body stores more food (in the form of fat) when meals are infrequent, but doesn’t see as much need to hold on to extra stores when it is being fed on a regular basis.

So why store fat, you ask?  Well in terms of energy, a gram of fat yields more than twice as much as a gram of carbohydrates or protein.  Your brain is in the business of keeping you alive, and fat is the only form of energy that is your body is capable of storing in large enough quantities to last more than a couple of days.  So basically, for most people out there, the answer to fat loss is to increase your metabolism.  This is done by eating every 3-4 hours and *gulp*…exercising.

I would like to note at this point that I have not given a license for people to eat as much as they want.  I amgiving a license to eat frequently.  Even if you are eating 6 times a day, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will probably add to that spare tire around your waist.  You will find however, that with exercise and frequent eating, you may be able to eat MORE than you used to and still lose weight.

Low Carb Diets

One of the great diet fads of the day seems to be to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake, sometimes less than 1 serving per day.  This “works” because it almost eliminates your number one source of energy and thereby requires your body to utilize your fat stores.  However, there are some definite disadvantages.

1.  Brain cells almost exclusively use carbs for energy.  If you aren’t eating any carbs, your brain cells can’t function properly.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.

2.  Your body is made to get most of its energy from carbs.  When you change that, you literally alter your metabolism or the chemistry of your body.  Changing your chemistry is ultimately what any diet does, good or bad, but in this case, it isn’t all that good.

3.  Lack of proper nutrients.  Many food groups contain some carbs such as fruits and even vegetables.  By avoiding these food groups you aren’t getting some nutrients only found in certain food groups.  Even if you supplement (as I recommend), you may not be getting all of the nutrients your body needs.  For those of you that are older, this can be particularly harmful because some of these “high carb” foods such as fruit contain powerful antioxidants that you just won’t get otherwise.

The point is the “experts” recommend that the most consumed food group should be carbs.  It can’t possibly be a good thing to eliminate carbs from your diet.  Although it can be an effective way to lose weight, you will likely be sacrificing parts of your body that you can’t see.  That is not to say that you will have a heart attack after being on a low carb diet for a while.  But then again, you probably won’t get lung cancer for smoking for a while either.

Whenever someone asks me about dieting I introduce my guaranteed diet plan.  It is as follows.  Eat NOTHING for a week, only drink water.  Most of the time I get sideways looks, but my point is usually made.  My diet will work for ANYONE, you will lose weight, but it is NOT a healthy way to do it.  Just because a diet (or diet pill) ‘works’ does not automatically make it healthy, or a good idea.      

Other Diets

Many other diet plans also take advantage of severely altering your diet.  Beware of any diet that does so.  These diets sell because they are usually simple.
Just take a supplement, eat some pre-made meals, drink this miracle cleansing juice, etc.  Let’s face it, everyone prefers the easy way out to.  The easy way out, though, is never the right way out when it comes to dieting.  For example, one diet that used to be popular prescribed almost entirely protein with almost nothing else.  It worked very well, but not for the right reasons.  In fact, it turned out that those on the plan ironically lost muscle mass.

Other diets give you supplements to suppress your appetite.  Be very careful here because if you aren’t eating very often then you are shooting yourself in the foot.  Remember, infrequent eating triggers fat storage.  Appetite suppressants are only appropriate for people who eat too much all the time.  Even with one you need to be sure you eat often enough.  But much like putting a drug in your body, you are ultimately changing your body’s chemistry to make it “think” it’s not hungry.  Vitamins change your body’s chemistry too, but in a way that promotes your further health.

I realize some people are going to ask why these diets are so bad for someone that is already overweight and therefore unhealthy anyway.  After all, wouldn’t they be better off skinny even if they do one of these fad diets for a while?  That is a tough question.  If someone is 400 lbs. it may seem justified for him to go on some fad diet, patch, pill or whatever for 6 months or so to lose 100lbs.  I don’t think most people are in this boat, but there are certainly some who are grossly overweight.  To these, I say that a fad diet may very well be a healthier alternative to carrying around an extra 100 or more pounds.  However, you can’t stay on that diet forever.  You have to learn to eat right and exercise regularly to stay that way.  By eating infrequently your body may burn muscle, but if you are eating 5 or 6 times a day, but eating less than your body utilizes, it MUST burn fat; it has no choice!

Not all diets are bad!

As I alluded to earlier, weight loss aids are not all bad…just the ones that teach or provide drastic measures to weight loss.  As I also mentioned, following the concepts I have set forth in this book will probably set you well on your way to weigh loss.  However, a little help may be appropriate.  Here are some that you may find helpful

These speed up your metabolism so you burn fat faster.  It is sort of like increasing the idle on your car.  Even when you are parked, you are burning more gas; these do the same thing to your metabolism.

These can be beneficial for those that just eat too much.  Only consider this one if you are eating 5-6 times a day, but you just have trouble eating too much or you don’t want to feel hungry between.

This one has a load of mental benefits, but it also lowers cortisol levels, the hormone that controls fat storage.  This is a fairly pricy way to go, but it works, and it can really improve memory.

This is a “good” fat similar to what is found in flax oil and helps keep your body in a lean state.  It sort of sends a message to your brain to store less fat.