Diets for Weight Loss

Hunger-Less Weight Loss Diet

Background:

Basic energy balance considerations inform us that weight loss occurs when long-term caloric output exceeds long term input. The simplicity of this axiom belies the difficulty of its implementation. Because of the human survival urge called hunger and because of feedback inhibition of metabolism; both associated with input reduction, simple and direct caloric restriction must be both large and necessarily hunger-inducing for the patient. In modern Western society, calorie dense and highly flavorful food is so easily available that patients following calorie restricted diets relapse quickly into old and poor eating habits. "Diets" don't work.

 

A More Intelligent Approach to Food

Food is more than nutrient. It has pharmacologic, hormone-like and physical properties that modulate both appetite and metabolism. Our goal is to design a way of eating that uses these properties rationally to suppress appetite, to increase satiety (fullness) and to increase caloric output by affecting basal metabolism, thermic food effects and, to some degree, sympathetic tone.

 

Low Energy Density Diets: A Step in the Right Direction

It has long been understood that appetite is decreased and satiety increased by the physical mechanism of stomach distension. One very effective way to use this fact is to consume foods of low energy density: foods with a low ratio of energy (calories) to mass (bulk). This can be accomplished in two different ways: by fat restriction and or by increasing fiber in food.

Fat Restricted Diets

Low fat diets work for weight loss because fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient (9kcal/gram). Fat restriction allows people to consume larger amounts of other macronutients (carbohydrate and protein) while effectively consuming fewer calories overall.

High Fiber Diets

Fiber is, by definition, indigestible plant material (principally cellulose and other calorie-free carbohydrates). High-fiber foods therefore induce more stomach distension-per-calorie than low fiber foods.

Limitations of Energy Density Considerations

Low energy density diets can be easier to follow than direct low-calorie diets but they still tend to cause some hunger. They are physically filling, but they do not address some of the important hormonal and neurochemical mechanisms of hunger. They tend to leave many people feeling "unsatisfied" if not gnawingly hungry.

 

Glucose Absorption Rate (Glycemic Index)

Most starches and sugars contain or are metabolically converted to the most basic of all sugars: glucose (blood sugar). There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that foods which cause glucose levels in the blood to rise rapidly are, when consumed in large amounts, harmful to human health and obesigenic. They promote obesity because they trigger "rebound hunger" and insulin resistance. These are both complex matters that shall receive greater attention later.

Glycemic Index:

Glycemic Index (GI) was "invented" in Australia in the early 1980s, originally as a tool to help diabetic patients better predict the effects of food choices on blood sugar control. Recent data strongly suggest that glycemic index is relevant to weight control.

Glycemic index is a scale from 1 to 100 (more or less). Low-glycemic index foods are better for health and promote weight loss.

 

Protein:

Proteins are incredibly complex molecules that are built from twenty basic "amino acid" building blocks. Some of these amino acids have potent drug-like effects upon the brain and some of these effects include appetite suppression. The most appetite suppressing amino acids are tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine, all of which are neurotransmitter precursors (to serotonin and norepinephrine). Diets than are relatively high in protein therefore cause less hunger. This makes sense mechanistically and has been demonstrated empirically.

Protein also has a very high "thermic effect" (see below)

Drugs in Food:

Many foods contain drugs. Chocolate, tea and coffee are a few common examples. Some foods contain drugs that appear to aid weight loss. The best example is green tea which contains chemicals that both slightly increase metaboliuc output and suppress appetite.

Frequency of Feeding:

Food timing matters for weight loss, perhaps more than food content.

Timing and Metabolism

Infrequent eating is an evolutionary warning signal of impending famine to which the human body responds by lower basal metabolism. Conversely, frequent eating abates this signal therebye helps keep metabolic output high.

Timing and Thermic Effects of Food

Digestion burns calories and does so inefficiently with small and frequently consumed snacks. In other words, very small amounts of food trigger a relatively large "burn" that can be sustained by eating often. Conversely, a single large meal per day will trigger a larger but brief "burn". Therefore, frequent eating of small meals and snacks promotes weight loss.

Timing and Hunger:

Frequent eating preempts severe hunger. It is easier for people to avoid poor food choices when they are always full.

The Ideal Weight Loss Diet: Livability-to-Efficacy Ratio

Combining the considerations heretofore discussed the "ideal" weight loss is the diet that gives the best "bang for the buck": the diet that offers the highest ratio of livability to efficacy. Such a diet will have the following features:

Color Key:

 

·         Items in RED are the most important

·         Items in ORANGE are important but less so

·         Items in GREEN will help but are not critical

 

1.  Eat frequently.

a.    At least 3 meals per day

2.  Eat preemptively:

a.    Eat BEFORE you get hungry

3.  NEVER skip breakfast

4.  Don't eat within two hours of bedtime

5.  Avoid high glycemic index foods

a.    Understand the glycemic index (G.I.)

b.    Generally avoid "white", highly processed starches

6.  VERY Low Sugar:

a.    No regular sodas

b.    No cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, candies, ice cream, doughnuts and NO FRUIT JUICES.

c.    Whole fruits except watermelon are fine.

d.    Artificial sweeteners are OK

e.    Especially avoid fructose and high fructose corn syrup

f.     Limit sugar alcohols (Xylitol, sorbitol etc.)

7.  VERY High Fiber:

a.    Add bran if possible

b.    Whole grains only

c.    Leafy vegetables

d.    Fiber supplements are expensive but OK

8.  Eat more raw or lightly cooked leafy plants

a.    Not only are they high-fiber, but phytochemicals clearly improve human health

9.  Limit total fat intake to 50 grams daily

10.        ZERO (absolutely none) trans-fats

a.    "Trans-fat Free" labels mean nothing. Read the ingredients and avoid anything with "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil".

11.        Increase "Omega-3 Fatty Acids"

a.    Fish oil: either take a supplement daily or eat a lot of oily deep-water ocean fish

b.    Flax seed: Supplement or eat flax.

 

12.        Very high protein:

a.    120 grams of protein daily

b.    Have a very high protein breakfast

c.    Choose high-quality proteins like egg, soy, milk protein and lean meats.

13.        Add "Pro-Biotics" to your diet

a.    Sugar-free yogurt or a lactobacillus supplement

14.        Drink LOTS of Water

a.    Drink enough water that you need to urinate at least six times daily.

15.        Increase Spiciness of Food

 

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