- Better Living
How to Lose Weight and Keep it off
Celebrity health coach Vijay Thakkar breaks down the surprising triggers of obesity and why all diets do and don’t work
There are two significant findings from every dietary study conducted over the years.
1. All diets work
2. All diets fail
When it comes to sustaining a healthy weight range, what does it imply? Losing weight traces the same fundamental pattern that dieters are well acquainted with. They certainly differ in the magnitude of weight loss, but the issue comes up six or seven months into the diet. You face a weight loss plateau, possibly regain some weight, despite strictly adhering to your diet. For instance, in the decade-long Diabetes Prevention Program, the participants, on average, lost 7 kg of weight after a year. However, the dreaded plateau hit them, followed by weight regain. Indefinite weight loss depends on the human health tripod, which involves:
1. performing the right exercises
2. consuming nutritious food
3. managing cortisol levels through rest and sleep
Obesity is not because of just one thing. It is a multi-dimensional disease.
• Does lack of muscle mass cause obesity? Partially true.
• Do calories cause obesity? Partially true.
• Does sugar cause obesity? Partially true.
• Do dietary carbohydrates cause obesity? Partially true.
• Does stress cause obesity? Partially true.
• Does insulin resistance cause obesity? Partially true.
• Does dietary fibre guard us against obesity? Partially true.
Every aspect mentioned above intersects at various hormonal routes that result in weight gain, and the most critical component in this is insulin. Typically, we consume a diet rich in carbohydrates (greater than 50 per cent) and poor in protein and fat calories. So, when we cut all calories equally and go on a low-calorie diet to lose weight, we also cut a lot of carbohydrates, thus reducing insulin release. When we follow a low-carbohydrate diet, we increase the number of fat- and protein-based energy in the diet and reduce carbohydrates, thus reducing insulin. We reduce insulin when we follow other versions of a low-carbohydrate diet such as the paleo and carnivore diets. When we follow ‘only a soup and salad’ diet, we reduce insulin.
A constant debate on a single cause for obesity persist – too little exercise, too much eating out, too much added sugar, too many carbohydrates, too many saturated fats, too much red meat, too much lactose, too much gluten, too much highly palatable processed food with added fats, too much stress and the list goes on. The ‘excess calorie’ lobby and ‘keto’ lobby ridicule one another. The vegans deride the keto devotees. The ‘keto’ lobby mocks the ‘high-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet’ lobby.
All diets work because they are focused on addressing the distinct component of the disease. However, none of them result in sustained success because none focus on the comprehensive nature of obesity. If we don’t understand the science of obesity, we are condemned to a never-ending cycle of blame without achieving our objective.
The familiar, connecting element in weight gain is hyper-insulinemia, which wreaks havoc in regulating our fat tissue and thus our appetite, satiety and food intake. For some individuals dealing with their weight problem, the primary concern may be due to chronically elevated stress levels. For others, it could be low lean tissue mass, while for someone else, it could be the high consumption of refined and easily digestible carbohydrates. Controlling stress levels, increasing lean tissue through strength training and exercise, and following a diet that eliminates processed foods will do just one thing – improve your metabolic health by reducing elevated insulin levels and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
It is crucial to customize one’s weight loss programme to deal with the underlying cause of elevated insulin levels. So if, for instance, late-night exposure to artificial blue light emitted from mobile phones or TV screens is disturbing your sleep and causing sleep deprivation and high cortisol levels, then that is the primary reason for your weight gain. Decreasing carbohydrates or increasing exercise is unlikely to address that issue. If excessive sugar consumption is the issue, then exercising more will not be specifically helpful. Weight gain is a result of a hormonal abnormality of energy regulation. It is characterized by elevated insulin levels that stimulate weight gain, so the logical treatment for this problem is to reduce insulin levels.
Bottom line? Balancing your human health tripod must be the fundamental pursuit.
Excerpted with permissions from the book Eating Less is Making You Fat by celebrity health coach and functional medicine expert Vijay Thakkar, Published by Hachette