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Weight Loss Simplified

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Dr. Deborah Gordon.WELLNESSHow many articles or interviews catch the public’s eye by offering a revolutionary, breakthrough, foolproof and easy way to lose weight? You may learn this new information and be intrigued, so you ask your doctor who sadly shakes her head and says, “There’s nothing new under the sun. Just eat less calories than you burn. That’s it, that’s the only way to lose weight.”

If you are one of the 74% of Americans who are overweight or obese, you’re crestfallen because almost certainly: you’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked.

Let’s bust up some myths and bust out some truths about weight loss. Dr. Jason Fung, a Toronto nephrologist, has written an excellent book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, his response to the epidemic of diabetes in his patients. (It’s an enjoyable read, I encourage you to check it out if you want the long version of this article!)

Before you think about what you eat, think about when you eat: don’t eat so often. Turning current guidelines (3 meals, 3 snacks) on their head, he guides his patients through different schedules of fasting. Patients with a lot of weight to lose start with a 10-day fast, during which they consume plenty of water, broth, green tea, and, as a real treat: coffee with a splash of cream is allowed. Diabetics must be skilled or supervised in blood sugar management: their blood sugar and insulin requirements will plummet as they fast. My patients report real cravings and irritability the first few days, but anything from acceptance to ease thereafter. Following the fast, you ease back into eating gradually, and move into intermittent fasting.

If you’re not diabetic, but just want to drop 5-15 pounds, you might try intermittent fasting (IF). Eat a normal dinner and in the morning, have just the broth with tea or coffee for breakfast. Do the same for lunch, and look forward to dinner. Successful IF can be done twice weekly and yields a net calorie deficit (your calorie-counting doctor will be happy) without the lowered metabolism that happens when you follow a low-calorie diet steadily. You might feel hunger during IF, but your body will “liberate” some internal fuels and the feeling will pass.

Seriously, you’re thinking, I can do this and eat anything I want?

Well, no, you can’t eat anything you want. Fasting actually works so well because it gives helpful hormonal signals as well as reducing calories, so you want to choose foods that give the same hormonal signals.

There’s no getting around it, you must avoid added sugars, sweetened drinks, low-fat dairy, and non-caloric sweeteners. Even our modern fave, stevia, stimulates a hormonal response that leads to fat storage. Grain-based foods create the same problem, so keep to a minimum (once a week?) or avoid. No smoothies, eat real food.

What’s different is that you can eat all the healthy protein and fat you want. My good protein list includes grass-fed beef, wild-caught smallish fish (lower mercury), organic poultry, wild game, and free range eggs. Vegetarians might also rely on more dairy for protein. Healthy fats, surprisingly perhaps, include all kinds of fats, not just fish oil. Eat grass-fed butter and the marbled fat in your grass-fed steak. Cook in butter, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil. Drizzle lots of olive oil on your avocado-rich salad. And yes, enjoy the fruits and vegetables (even potatoes) that you prefer.  

Saving the best for last: episodes of fasting are good for lots of people! It’s one of the most effective habits you can develop for the long-term health of both your body and your brain. It’s a great protection for people facing chemotherapy (12-24 hours before and after chemo.) Fasting encourages your body to clean house: destroy damaged parts and create new ones.

Who shouldn’t fast? Pregnant women and growing children. Folks with medically-managed diabetes need to be supervised by a physician. For the rest of us, let’s skip a meal!

Read more of Dr. Deborah’s healthy insights at www.DrDeborahMD.com.


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