Does one diet work for everyone? Is there one best way of eating? Is one diet better than all the others? The answer to all these questions is no. There are clear healthy eating habits everyone should follow. This includes avoiding processed foods, eating real/whole foods, avoiding sugar, and avoiding processed oils. The exact composition of a healthy diet can vary depending on one’s age, metabolism, and genetics. Most children are highly sensitive to insulin. This means they can eat carbs all day long and still remain thin. Furthermore, most children have a good metabolism. Unfortunately, as we get older things change. Most people, as they age, become less sensitive to insulin. This means that excess sugar is not burned by the body’s cells, but instead gets stored as fat. Insulin sensitivity varies from person to person. Some people can cut their carbs to 100grams a day and can lose weight and remain thin. Other people need to lower their carbs to under 25grams a day to lose weight. If you are on a low carb diet and not losing weight, you may need to cut your carb intake even more. Remember that everyone’s metabolism is different. Some people can eat a large amount of food and remain thin. Others are not as lucky. As we get older and lose muscle mass our metabolism slows down. We burn less calories at rest compared to when we were younger. A good way to naturally increase your metabolism is to increase muscle mass by lifting weights. More muscle mass leads to a higher metabolism and more calories burned at rest. The take home message is that everyone is different. Do not believe anyone who claims their diet is the best for everyone. What works for others, may not work for you. The key is to experiment and find what does work for you. Again, you can never go wrong avoiding processed food and sugar in your diet. A good rule of thumb that everyone can follow includes a diet of unprocessed, whole foods that your body recognizes as food. For most people, including a good amount of protein in every meal can help with weight loss. As noted above, cutting back on carbs is also important in losing weight. However, the exact amount will vary from person to person. Therefore, experiment a little with your diet if you are not having success. Keep a food diary if needed. Find what works specifically for you. One size does not fit all.
Over the years I have seen many fad diets come and go. These include grapefruit diets, shake diets, cookie diets, soup diets, low carb diets, and HCG/hormone diets. Most work by limiting the number of calories you consume. Many HCG versions allow only 500 calories a day. Other diets are so restrictive, that you naturally eat less calories while on the diet. Diets that are too restrictive can be almost impossible to maintain long term. Unfortunately, once people stop the diet and resume their normal eating habits the weight comes back and usually returns very quickly. If we try to lose weight too quickly, our bodies think we are starving. Our bodies have survival mechanisms to avoid starvation. One such mechanism is to lower our resting metabolic rate to avoid continued weight loss. This is why losing those last 5-10 pounds can be so difficult. Furthermore, a significant problem arises when you resume eating your normal diet which includes more calories. Even though you are now taking in more calories, your metabolism still remains low. Thus, you regain the weight quickly and may end up even adding an extra 5-10 pounds more than you started with. Furthermore, when you lose weight quickly, you lose both fat and muscle. Unfortunately, when you regain the weight it tends to be all fat. Since fat is much less metabolically active than muscle, your resting metabolic rate drops even further, which makes it very easy to add extra pounds. The bottom line is that fad diets do not work long term and make it very easy to actually gain weight over time. Your goal should be to lose a few pounds a month. The best way to achieve this is a low fat, whole foods lifestyle, that includes a lot of fiber and avoids simple, highly processed carbs and saturated fats. Regular aerobic exercise is also important. The idea is to make long term goals, stay committed to these goals, and to not get frustrated and give up. Your goals are absolutely achievable over the long term!