1. Overeating, i.e. taking in more calories than one needs, causes weight gain.
2. If you restrict your calorie intake enough you are guaranteed to lose weight or at least stay the same.
3. Exercise regularly and you will lose weight.
4. Eat a low-fat diet and it will help you lose weight.
Let’s examine these in order.
First of all, many people overeat constantly and never gain weight. Conversely, many people restrict calorie intake--even severely restrict it--and still gain weight. Both #1 and #2 are false. Overeating is not the cause of becoming overweight. Under eating is not the cause of slimming down.
#3 and #4 are a couple of the more astonishing myths of the last-half century, only this time they have been spread by experts who are supposed to know--doctors. Have you gone to your doctor recently, complaining that you want to slim down? What does he tell you? He tells you to eat non-fattening foods and exercise. What has been the outcome of these recommendations? All but the lucky few have gotten fatter.
So why do we persist in running the same old treadmill? Why not call a failure a failure?
It is difficult to argue against the obvious: of course eating too much makes us fatter, particularly too many fattening foods. Everyone knows this. The only problem is that it is wrong.
Money has to be another part of the reason. Somebody has to be making money on these myths. The first culprit is the food industry.
Let’s be accurate: overeating does not cause weight gain, fat production does. The two are different. Some people can overeat like crazy and their fat cells don’t get very excited. They stay slim.
What causes fat cells to produce fat? This is the billion dollar question, which no researcher has been able to exactly answer. What can be said is that fat production and becoming overweight is a hormonal problem. If you are more than 25 pounds overweight, you have a hormonal imbalance, and likely multiple hormones are involved.
A major hormonal player is insulin. Insulin has been called “the hormone of abundance.” When abundance comes into your life you can become a “fat cat,” and this is what tends to happen when your body produces a lot of insulin. Once you get to be 25 pounds overweight, the insulin system gets stuck in overdrive. Because you are fat, you produce more insulin. Because you produce more insulin, you crave sugar, and because you answer the cravings with eating more sugar, you produce more insulin. This vicious circle causes the fat to get fatter.
I have been working on treatment regimens to interrupt this vicious cycle and correct the underlying hormonal imbalances. Patients are already doing it and finding success. Feel free to talk to me about it. For right now, just a few pointers about the protocol:
1. Don’t buy any foods that say “low fat.” Low fat means “high sugar.” Avoid milk, but if you have to use it in your coffee, use cream instead.
2. In general, avoid ALL processed flours and sugars. In fact, avoid all processed anything. That’s 80% of what is at your grocery store.
3. Get to sleep at night early and sleep long. (Staying up too late aggravates the hormonal imbalances.)
4. Eat lots of good fats. These include olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flax seed oi. Unless you take them with gobs of sugar, they will help you slim down. When you fry foods make sure you match the oil to whether you are cooking low, medium or high heat. And don’t be overly scared of butter, which although not in the category of “good fat,” it is in a neutral category, i.e. it won’t in itself cause you to get fatter.
5. Exercise in moderation. Realize that it will cause you to become hungrier, but not thinner. I prefer activities where deep, rhythmic breathing are key. Yoga is a great example.