Welcome to Holland Clinic, a trusted partner on the journey to weight loss and a healthier life. I am Mark J. Holland MD, and as you may know, I have been practicing medical weight loss for over 32 years. In that time, I have struggled with a big dilemma: the diets that many people like best and have had good results with in the past are not diets that they can usually follow forever. This has led me to the idea of approaching diet in phases: starting with the diet you are most comfortable with and then later after you have lost a lot of weight, slowly changing over to a more sustainable lifestyle.
And while I certainly do prescribe weight loss medication to most patients, I firmly believe that sustainable weight loss is a marriage of early-phase medication therapy and lifelong dietary change. It is this belief that led me to develop the concept of 'Diet Phasing,' a two-step approach to dietary change that helps patients achieve their weight loss goals while allowing them to begin our medical weight loss program by following a diet that they are enthusiastic about and are familiar with. Still, in the long-term, I am equally certain that people should begin to move towards the one type of diet that is known to sustain weight loss in the long term---namely a low-fat, low inflammatory diet very similar to what is called 'The Mediterranean Diet'. By separating dietary change into phases, I think you can get the best of both worlds.
Weight Loss Diet Phasing is Optional
While I believe the notion of a phased approach to diet has many advantages, it certainly is not the only way to achieve sustainable weight loss. If you prefer to pursue a different approach, we will support you in that fully. Remember that I (Dr. Holland) am well-versed in all safe diets and I am happy to guide you in any way you see fit. The only thing I wouldn't do is recommend a diet that I believe to be dangerous or otherwise harmful.
Weight Loss Diet: PHASE-1
The first phase of Diet Phasing focuses on kick-starting the weight loss process. During this phase, patients are encouraged to choose any safe and effective diet that they feel enthusiastic about or have had success with in the past. The goal here is to get the body to start shedding weight, with the understanding that this is not a sustainable long-term plan, but rather an initial push that, if successful, will get you motivated and set the stage for long-term success.
The diets in this initial phase can be broadly categorized as follows:
Low-fat diets, such as the Holland Clinic's classic low-fat diet, the Mediterranean diet, or a plant-based diet.
Low-carbohydrate diets, like the Keto, Atkins, or Dukan diets.
Low-calorie diets, which involve reducing overall calorie intake without necessarily focusing on specific food groups.
Very low-calorie diets, which are more drastic and should be followed under medical supervision.
Intermittent fasting, which involves alternating periods of eating and fasting.
Weight loss medication plays a significant role in the early phase of Diet Phasing. These medications can increase the efficacy of your chosen diet, helping you to see results more quickly and motivating you to stick with your diet plan.
However, while all these diets can be effective in the short term, not all of them are sustainable in the long term. Most notably, diets that restrict intake of a specific food group (like low-carb diets) or significantly restrict calories can lead to increased hunger and are generally harder to stick to over time.
Weight Loss Diet: PHASE-2
After 3-12 months, depending on your progress and comfort, you should begin the transition to the second phase of Diet Phasing. This phase is all about sustainability. It's about finding a diet that you can stick to not just for months, but for years, and even for life.
In the long-term phase, I recommend a sustainable low-fat diet. This type of diet offers a wide variety of food choices without the need for stringent calorie counting. This approach is backed by a wealth of interventional data showing its long-term efficacy.
But perhaps more compelling is the real-world evidence. A large portion of the global population, both today and historically, follows a low-fat diet. These individuals live long, healthy lives with significantly less obesity than we see in regions with higher fat diets. And they do so without feeling deprived of the pleasures of eating. The longevity and healthiness of these populations provide a powerful testament to the potential of a low-fat diet. They serve as a reminder that "if they can do it, so can we."
In the end, Diet Phasing isn't just about losing weight; it's about finding a new, healthier way of living that you can sustain over the long term. It's about building a lifestyle that allows you to enjoy a broad array of foods without compromising your health or your weight loss goals. At Holland Clinic, we're here to guide you through that process and help you find the path that works best for you. Together, we can make your weight loss journey a success.
DIET PHASING IS A SIMPLE IDEA: Start with the diet you like the most and end with the one that you can live with forever.