As mentioned in the last article, dieting seems like the next logical thing to go over. I promise, read all the way through and you will see what I’m talking about. Let’s just jump right in now rather than weight, I mean wait until January 1, 2020. Diet has two meanings. It means the type of food a person or animal or community typically eats. Or it can mean a special course of food to which one restricts oneself in order to lose weight or handle a certain body condition. The word “diet” comes from Middle English: from Old French “diete” (noun), “dieter” (verb), via Latin from Greek “diatia” a way of life. What I’m going to mainly go over is the second definition with regards to losing weight.
Over the years various diets for the sake of losing weight have become extremely popular. There are too many to name and go over individually but essentially the basic premise of all successful diets comes down to one and only one simple concept, calorie reduction. A calorie is a basic unit of energy. The food we eat can be measured to show the amount of calories that it can provide a body. We can get this information from the food labels or we can google that information.
Bodies require a certain amount of energy or fuel to function properly. How many calories should you eat in a day just to maintain a healthy body? Obviously, bodies have a lot of variations so there is no one size fits all here. Calorie requirements take into consideration gender (male bodies typically require more calories to function), height, weight and activity level. These are the general criteria used to calculate daily calorie requirements. You can google “daily calorie needs estimator” to find links to calculators to figure out what your baseline calorie needs are. I’ll wait……
An average male body requires about 2500 calories a day to function properly. An average female body requires about 2000 calories a day. The average American consumes over 3600 calories a day.
Okay now for a groundbreaking discovery. All diets (special course of food to which one restricts oneself in order to lose weight) work off of the same principle, taking in less calories than are required for the body to function normally. You can try and complicate it but that is all a diet is. Eating fewer calories than your body needs for your basic activity level. The old saying, “calories in versus calories out”. So, if you take in less calories than needed where does the body get the energy from? Guess. Your fat. Fat is your stored fuel source. Our bodies will shift over to using our own fats for energy if we are not taking in enough food to function. Trust me there is enough fat to supply the energy the body will need. Watch the show Survivor if you don’t believe me.
So I am sure some of you are now having the realization that activity level actually does play an important part in this diet game. Absolutely it does. I have tons of patients that come to me saying they want to lose weight but don’t want to exercise or increase their activity level and will do it by diet alone. Again it’s all about calorie deficit, burning more calories than you are taking in. If your just trying to lose weight focusing on one side of the game your selling yourself short. I will definitely go over exercise as the next topic.
Back to diets. So why are there so many diets out there? Each one claims they are the best and most effective way for weight loss. Rather than list them all, I’m just going to go over a few more popular ones. Okay, I’m probably going to upset some of you here. Just keep reading and we will still be friends in the end.
The Ketogenic Diet or Keto Diet. This one is the most popular now. It works on the principle of switching the body over to a more fat-burning mode by having a body use fats as the main energy source. So most of the calories a person consumes or eats while on this diet come from fats. It’s an ironic complete shift from the “fat-free” diet fad of the eighties. Remember? That is one thing that helped cause this whole obesity epidemic in our country. Okay, remember when we eat fewer calories our bodies automatically shift to using fats as an energy source. So putting in extra fat in the body seems a little odd. Here is the fact. Eating a balanced diet with fats makes us feel full faster so we really don’t crave more food. It’s all about balance people. Keto diet essentially gets people to put back in what we were cutting out over the past few decades. I have a love/hate for this diet. I love the fact that it gets people to start eating fat again. I hate the fact that it is now a complete shift to eating fats to extremes. Eating this high level of fats DOES create health problems. To simplify, when we eat high levels of fats we make our blood have a higher content of fats. We essentially are making our blood thicker with high-fat diets. Thicker blood is not good for the body on so many levels. What’s easier to pump through a pipe, ketchup or water? This thicker blood creates a problem for the pipes and body in general.
So what diet does work without harming the body? Any diet which ultimately reduces the calorie intake and still provides all the essential nutrients a body needs is the ideal scene. Balance is key. Taking in enough protein, fats and carbs is key. Eliminating or severely restricting one thing definitely creates a nutritional imbalance and ultimately can and will lead to problems. The game is overall calorie reduction. That’s the basics of it. But there is more.
Now the other thing which I feel is actually the most important aspect of dieting is the timing of when a person eats. Remember when the body needs energy it will use the stores of energy it already has. Your fats. So how do we get the body to use its fats for energy? Intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been studied and proven to be an extremely effective way to lose weight. So what is intermittent fasting? This is just a fancy way of saying skipping breakfast. It is essentially limiting the TIME that a person eats their food for the day down to a narrow window. Taking in food over a shorter duration of time of the day rather than spreading out meals throughout the day is what we are talking about. So what does this mean? An average person will have breakfast, lunch and dinner. They might even throw in a snack later on. Essentially they are taking in food and calories throughout the day. That is not the most effective way to lose weight. Remember we want our bodies to switch over to fat-burning mode. By continually putting fuel in the body throughout the day the body never really has to switch over to fat-burning mode. The ideal scene is to get the body to burn the fats you have already stored. By far intermittent fasting accomplishes this better than any other diet alone. In fact, intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is the fastest way to lose weight.
So, to sum things up, cutting back on your calories is the only way to lose weight. Having your body switch over to more of a fat-burning mode will significantly speed things along. This can be done by using intermittent fasting. There are various tricks a person can do to maximize their ability to do this. If you would like help in figuring out what works best for you and your situation, please stop by and we will do our best to help.
Rich Wallace MD