Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Successful Weight Loss - the Importance of the Right Diet

Once you've decided a weight loss diet is unavoidable, how do you decide what sort of diet to follow? There is so much confusing advice out there. Sadly, the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie weight loss diet, which recommends basing the diet on carbohydrates, is not the best course for many people. A carbohydrate-based diet can be a real problem for up to sixty per cent of people in Western populations. For these people, foods high in carbohydrate, even 'good' carbs such as wholemeal bread and fruit, trigger an excess of insulin and cause blood sugar imbalances. This results in an increased tendency to store instead of to burn surplus energy and to crave yet more carbs in a way that is very similar to addiction to nicotine, alcohol and other 'feel good' drugs.

The big problem with the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie weight loss diet is that it ignores these hormonal aspects of weight regulation and fails to deal with the fundamental issue of carbohydrate sensitivity. Carbohydrate sensitivity (sometimes referred to as carbohydrate intolerance) should not be thought of as a disease or medical condition. It is in fact our bodies' normal response to a diet high in refined carbohydrate - food that we were never designed to eat.

So what does this mean to the average person who is about to embark on a weight loss diet? Well, sadly, it means an awful lot of dashed hopes as dieters fail to lose weight or else lose a little weight at first but are then unable to keep it up long term. They don't understand that, because their weight loss diet is unsuited to their biochemical and hormonal make-up, they are being set up to fail. And worse, when they do fail, they are made to feel that they are at fault, when in fact it is the diet that is at fault.

So is going on a 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie diet always a bad idea? Well, if this means eating far fewer foods high in refined carbohydrates than you were before, that's undoubtedly a big step towards a healthier body and significant weight loss. But if you're already ahead of that game, and your normal way of eating is already low in refined carbohydrate foods such as cakes, cookies, pastries, pasta, pizza, white bread, white rice, ice cream, desserts, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, sugary drinks and the like, then you may well find that you lose little or no weight on the official 'healthy eating' low fat/low calorie diet. If this is the case, then don't waste time and energy trying any of the countless diets that are all based on the 'reduce the calories and fat and keep carbs high' principle. Don't fall for the 'You overeat for emotional reasons' or 'You only need more willpower' trap either. Understand that your biochemical and hormonal make-up prevents you from losing weight on a carbohydrate-based diet, and try the low carb approach instead.

Unfortunately there are many myths about what you actually eat on a low carb diet and many dietary 'authorities' still maintain that the carbohydrate-based low calorie/low fat 'healthy eating' diet is the only safe and effective diet, despite more and more clinical trials saying otherwise. Other 'authorities', although still wary of low carb diets, recommend their near relations, low GI (glycemic index) diets. However, low GI diets are still not generally low enough in carbs for those who are very carbohydrate sensitive - which probably includes most of us who find it hard to lose weight. Weight loss is actually a very complex subject, until you find a straightforward explanation of how it all works. If you're interested in finding out more, then free e-book Why You Should Consider a Low Carb or Low GI Diet is a great way to start. It helps dispel these myths by explaining the science behind low carb and low GI diets, why they are healthier for many people than the standard low calorie/low fat diet and why low carb diets may be better than low GI diets for many people.

What if you've already gone low carb but are feeling you may not be able to keep it up because you're bored with your food choices and menus, and it's too hard to stick to? Then you're probably missing some important knowledge in the low carber's armoury - how to use low carb substitute ingredients to make low carb versions of favourite foods such as bread, pizza, pastry, cakes, cookies, sauces, ice cream and desserts. If you're feeling deprived on your low carb or low GI diet, then getting a good cookbook is a must for the success of your weight loss. But be aware! Many of the low carb and low GI cookbooks out there contain lots of great recipes - but they're mostly main courses of the type that don't contain carby ingredients in the first place. If the kinds of foods you most miss are baked goods, with the right knowledge you can make low carb versions of these extremely successfully. If these are the kind of recipes you need, then the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook is definitely one to put on your list of low carb cookbooks to investigate.

Unfortunately, as seasoned dieters will know, many diets seem to work for a while and then the weight loss comes to a stop. This is often called a diet plateau or diet stall. This can happen whatever diet you are on, and there are many possible reasons for it. As a result, it can be very difficult to work out what to do to break the stall. Much of the advice out there will focus on one or two things to change to try to get your weight loss started again. But breaking your diet plateau depends upon dealing with all, not just some, of the many nutritional, biochemical and hormonal factors that may causing it. It's important therefore to find a source of information that goes systematically through all the factors that may be causing your diet plateau and helps you to draw up a personal action plan, such as Why Can't I Lose Weight.

Life is too short and precious to spend years of it unsuccessfully pursuing a weight loss goal because you have the wrong tools!

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