By Dr. Roy E. Vartabedian
A short time ago, I received a promotional booklet in the mail from a very well-known and “credible” company (they have an extensive scientific advisory board) that publishes a monthly magazine on health and prevention, as well as many books on various health topics.
It was shocking to read through it and count the many outrageous promises and claims made about their diet and health program. Here are some quotes:
“DROP 30 lbs. Fast!”
“INCHES OFF YOUR BELLY in 10 minutes a day!”
“Shrink Your Waist with a Vitamin!”
“Do You Have a Few Minutes to Lose 25 Pounds?”
“6 Hours of Exercise in 6 Minutes”
“Just 30 Seconds per Exercise Session!”
“See How You Can Reverse Your Sluggish Metabolism–Burn More Fat Without Exercising!”
“Top-Secret Fat Scorcher Burns Nine Times More Fat with Less Exercise!”
“See How to Knock Down High Blood Pressure by Doing Practically Nothing!”
“Get Younger Every Day!”
We Believe What We Want to Believe
As tempting as it is to believe these headlines, we need to engage our brains when reading these and filter out the noise and mis-truths. To help you do this, I will outline “5 Diet Red Flags” that you can use to help you filter out 98% of the advertisements on diet and weight-loss you see today.
5 Diet Red Flags
When you hear about these types of diets–run!
1. Diets that promise drastic, quick weight loss.
We all know by now that you can only lose 1-2 lbs. per week if it is FAT loss. That’s because there are 3500 calories per pound of fat. Between diet and exercise, the most FAT you can lose in one week is 1-2 lbs. So why do we want to lose more than this, faster than this? The only way it can be done is to lose water (which has no calories) or muscle (which has about 600 calories per lb.). Water just comes back later, and muscle lost just lowers your calorie-burning engine and metabolism–which is self-defeating.
2. Diets that claim no exercise is required.
Claims are made that a certain pill, cream, potion, or food combination will increase your metabolic rate so you don’t need to exercise. While it may be true that a tiny metabolic rate increase is possible with some of these methods, there are usually negative side effects to using them. But the big downside is that when you compare these methods to the actual increases in metabolism that exercise provides–their effectiveness pales in comparison. And exercise has dozens of positive effects on health and function of the body as well.
3. Diets that are less than 1000 calories per day.
It’s difficult to get all your nutrients on less than 1000 calories per day. And we all have heard by now that when you do this, your body goes into “survival” mode and lowers your metabolic calorie-burn rate. So it is self-defeating in many ways. You may have a moderate initial weight loss, but the rate will slow as your body adjusts.
4. Diets that differ drastically from the way you are eating now.
It’s true that if your diet needs improving, you need to make some changes. But if it is too drastic a change, or a way of eating that most people cannot possibly continue long-term, then it will most likely be abandoned after the weight is lost. That’s one more “yo” to the “yo-yo”.
5. Diets that claim to be effortless.
OK, on this one we need to really kick ourselves for believing. “It was as easy as falling off a log!” Oh, really? Obviously, true weight and fat loss that can be maintained and is healthy cannot be achieved any other way than by good old “lifestyle change.” Anything easier is either not truly effective, or has negative side effects from using long-term, and possibly even in the short-term.
Healthy Eating Made Simple–But Not Effortless!
How do you eat healthier AND reduce calories at the same time? By eating the MOST NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS. Foods that have the most nutrition in the least calories will provide you with the most “nutritional bang for the buck.” They are the best foods for the human body overall. Fresh raw or steamed green leafy vegetables and vegetables in general score the highest in this category. Whole raw fruits come in second place. Then come whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, nuts and seeds), low fat dairy, and lastly–lean meats.
Another way to make healthy eating simple is to pick the foods that have the MOST VOLUME PER CALORIE. This way your stomach is filled up before you overeat on calories. The list of these foods is in just about the same order as the one above for the most nutrient-dense foods. Fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, then lean meats. In general, foods which have a high water content usually are very filling. If the calories are less than 50 per cup–this is excellent. If 50-100 calories, good. If 100-200+, fair. Over 200-300+, be careful.
Combine these eating patterns with a moderate exercise program such as walking, swimming, bicycling for 30-45 minutes 5-6 times per week, and you have everything you need to do it right, and do it safely and effectively. The important thing with exercise is to do something YOU ENJOY. So you may want to walk or bicycle along the beach, or try a dance-type of class that will be enjoyable while the time passes quickly.
Research has shown that people who track what they are eating daily are twice as successful as those who “wing it.” Those who have a support group or buddy to go through the program with together, are twice as successful again. So increase your chances for success by putting it all together. Here’s to your future success!
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