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Ditch Dieting and Go for Whole Foods
We want you to forget everything you've been taught about dieting. Forget what you've been told about carbohydrates and fats. Forget about protein shakes and fat-burning meal-replacement bars. Forget about tallying up points and counting calories. Forget about trying to figure out how to muster up the psychological self-discipline necessary to avoid eating. The truth is that the diets most of us use don't work—they don't work for lasting weight loss, and they certainly don't work for improving health.
It turns out the best way to lose weight—and keep it off—is to approach weight loss from an entirely new perspective: Focus on health first, and the side benefit is lasting weight loss. Instead of obsessing over the number of calories in your food and the number of carbs, learn to think about getting more bang for your nutritional buck. Make your food count; don't count your food. The way to do that is to eat balanced meals consisting of carbohydrates, fats and proteins from healthy 'whole' foods.
Whole foods are unrefined 'real' foods, packaged the way nature intended. We're talking potatoes, not potato chips. We're advocating corn, not corn flakes. We'd rather you eat an apple instead of apple sauce. We'd rather you choose oatmeal instead of oat flakes. Go for grapes not grape juice. Go for eggs, not egg substitutes. The point is, the more unrefined 'whole' foods you eat and the less refined, 'packaged foods you eat the healthier you will be and the easier it will be for you to manage your weight. We're not saying you can never have another bowl of cornflakes again, we're just saying you are much better off choosing corn on the cob instead.
Balanced whole-foods diets work for weight control and more. The human body has evolved over thousands of centuries to consume all-natural whole foods. Research now confirms that the same whole foods your body needs to prevent disease and maintain health can help you look your best and maintain your ideal weight. Whole foods are nature's flab fighters.
Whole Foods Fight the 'Malnourished Munchies'
It is possible to be overweight and malnourished. How? Easy: Malnutrition refers to inadequate nutrition, not necessarily inadequate calorie intake. Even though it's possible to obtain plenty of calories, or more likely too many calories, on the typical American diet, it is rare to obtain adequate nutrition this way. It is entirely possible to be one hundred pounds or more overweight and still be malnourished. If you don't get the nutrients your body needs, your body signals hunger because it assumes more food is needed in order to obtain these crucial nutrients. You crave these nutrients, not necessarily the doughnut or the bagel in the break room.
While some hunger is psychological, most of it occurs in an attempt to motivate you to satisfy natural, appropriate cravings for the nutrients your diet lacks. Cravings, as most people know, hinder the success of most fad diets. Only a balanced whole-foods diet supplies your body with all the nutrients it needs to curb food cravings.
Unless you have supernatural willpower you'll ultimately surrender to these cravings and end up eating more calories than your body really needs in an effort to obtain adequate nutrition. It doesn't take too many of these extra calories to make a difference on the scale. Even as little as two hundred additional calories per day (the equivalent of one granola bar) results in a weight gain of forty pounds over the course of two years!
Whole Foods Keep Your Blood Sugar from Going Berserk
Diets rich in overly processed, quickly digested carbohydrates result in a surge of insulin followed by a sharp drop in your blood sugar level. Low blood sugar levels cause increased appetite. A balanced whole-foods diet includes healthful fats that keep you feeling satisfied for hours as well as plenty of filling, slowly digested, high-fiber carbohydrates. Your blood-sugar level remains stable, and your appetite remains naturally suppressed.
Whole Foods Turn Off Your Body's Fat-Storage System
Whole foods reduce your body's tendency to store energy as fat. Insulin is a hormone that promotes the absorption and storage of calories as energy. More insulin means more fat storage. Insulin is released in large quantities when you eat carbohydrate-rich foods—especially empty-calorie carbohydrate foods such as refined flour, white rice and sugar. Very little insulin is released when you eat a balanced whole-foods diet containing fiber-rich carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein.
Your body needs a certain amount of insulin for transporting nutrients and energy into your cells. If your body is accustomed to having only small amounts of insulin in its blood stream, its cells remain very sensitive to insulin, and only small amounts of insulin need to be secreted. If your body is accustomed to having large amounts of insulin in its blood stream, its cells adapt to the overload by becoming less sensitive, and more resistant, to insulin. Even more insulin is secreted in response to this problem. From a weight-loss standpoint these abnormally high insulin levels encourage abnormally high amounts of fat storage. A healthy whole-foods diet helps reverse this process.
Whole Foods Stoke Your Metabolism
Certain nutrients present only in whole foods actually speed the process of burning fat for energy. For example, vitamin C, various B vitamins, calcium and, especially, the good omega-3 fats found only in whole foods are all needed to maintain a healthful, rapid metabolism. Deficiencies in these nutrients slow your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight, break through plateaus and keep off the pounds.
The Types of Fat You Eat Can Either Help or Hinder Weight Loss
Our whole-foods diet contains the proper balance of omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. Achieving this balance increases your cells' sensitivity to insulin, therefore decreasing the amount of insulin your body need to produce. As you now know, the less insulin your body needs to make, the easier it is for you to lose weight and keep it off.
Whole Foods Keep You Feeling Full on Fewer Calories
If you eat a balanced whole-foods diet containing plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, you'll be getting lots of fat-fighting fiber without very many calories. Even though you'll be eating fewer calories, you'll still feel full and satisfied because the fiber-rich whole foods take up a lot of space in your stomach and provide a large volume of food. Studies show the more fiber you eat and the greater volume of food you eat, the more satisfied you'll feel and the fewer number of calories you'll eat in a day. For example, you'll feel more satisfied and less hungry after eating a 130-gram serving of fiber-rich beans containing just 120 calories as opposed to the typical 52-gram fiber-less doughnut containing 200 calories. You will feel more satisfied after eating a voluminous, fiber-rich 150-calorie bowl of oatmeal compared to a condensed 200-calorie, sugary, low-fiber granola bar. When all is said and done, feeling full on fewer calories will help you lose weight.
Whole Foods Reduce Inflammation to Help You Gain Health and Lose Weight
The foods you eat can either increase systemic inflammation or decrease systemic inflammation. To feel and look your best you want to avoid pro-inflammatory processed foods and instead choose a healthy and balanced anti-inflammatory whole-foods diet. An anti-inflammatory diet will improve your health and help whittle your waistline. Researchers have discovered the common denominator linking many modern degenerative diseases is inflammation run amok. Seemingly unrelated conditions, such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma, allergies, arthritis, acne, Crohn's disease and fibromyalgia, all share one common link: inflammation. All of these conditions are made worse when systemic inflammation remains unchecked.
We can take this conversation one step further. We now know obesity and inflammation are also linked. Being obese in and of itself increases systemic inflammation because excess fat cells are active endocrine organs that directly and indirectly put your body into a constant pro-inflammatory state. Fat cells send inflammation signals throughout your body, affecting the health of your skin, your heart, your joints and even your brain. There is growing evidence that the inflammation-enhancing signals secreted by these fat cells actually promote obesity itself and even the development of type 2 diabetes. Whole foods fight obesity; less obesity means less inflammation. Whole foods also fight inflammation; less inflammation means less obesity. While doctors continue to prescribe medications to calm inflammation and improve their patients' disease symptoms, it is becoming more and more common for cutting-edge doctors to prescribe anti-inflammatory diets and lifestyles, too. This is because some foods, such as highly processed white flour and trans fat, dramatically worsen inflammation, while other whole foods, such as walnuts, fish and whole grains, can actively decrease inflammation. Our whole-foods diet has the power to reduce inflammation, helping you not only to lose weight but also to improve your health.
More Than Just Weight Loss
The Fitter, Firmer, Faster diet contains a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and essential fats that work synergistically to protect you from many different diseases.
• Type 2 Diabetes. Unstable blood sugar levels, the resulting excess insulin production and obesity itself all play a major role in the development of prediabetes and the exacerbation of type 2 diabetes. Any lifestyle plan that combats insulin resistance by keeping your blood sugar level more stable is guaranteed to work toward reversing type 2 diabetes. The Fitter, Firmer, Faster exercise program also decreases your body fat percentage and increases your muscle mass, further decreasing your body's need to produce insulin. All in all, you have a multifaceted approach for reversing the insulin resistance that ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes.
• Osteoporosis. Whole foods rich in vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and essential fat decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis as does an increased intake of soy and flax.
• Cancer. Achieving and maintaining a healthful weight, increasing your dietary intake of fiber, soy, fruits, vegetables and natural phytonutrients, along with decreasing your intake of saturated fat–rich and trans fat–rich foods all contribute to a decreased risk of developing many types of cancer.
• Heart Disease. Recent studies confirm the vast majority of heart disease is due to preventable risk factors. For example, having an elevated blood level of 'bad' LDL cholesterol is a primary risk factor for heart artery disease. Whole foods containing fiber and heart-healthy fats have been proven to decrease 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels. A whole-foods diet also works to protect your heart by decreasing systemic inflammation, lowering your C-reactive protein (CRP) level, and decreasing your blood pressure.
• Senility. Much of what we call 'Alzheimer's disease' is really mental degeneration caused by the accumulation of vascular disease within your brain. Whole foods protect against this type of dementia in the same way they protect you from heart artery disease.
• Arthritis. Inflammation plays a role in the severity of your symptoms. Increased consumption of certain healthful fats such as those found in fish, flaxseeds and nuts, combined with avoidance of harmful fats significantly decreases the amount of inflammation in your body. Arthritis responds very well to a healthful whole-foods diet.
• Fibromyalgia. Whole foods can ease your symptoms while also improving your energy level. Fibromyalgia is another disease made worse by inflammation and is therefore a disease that responds well to dietary intervention.
• Multiple sclerosis. This disease is also worsened when inflammation is allowed to run unchecked. Inflammation can be thought of as the tendency of your body to attack itself. Increased consumption of whole foods containing certain healthful fats, such as those found in fatty fish, flax and nuts, combined with a reduced intake of harmful saturated fats and the elimination of processed products containing trans fats and empty carbohydrates promotes decreased inflammation and often leads to decreased severity of disease symptoms. A whole-foods diet also helps combat the fatigue that almost universally plagues MS patients.
• Asthma. This is another disease made worse by inflammation. Increasing good-fat intake while decreasing bad-fat consumption and reducing empty carbohydrate intake all serve to ameliorate asthma symptoms. Our clients report this is one area where nearly immediate results are appreciated.
©2007. Andrew Larson, M.D., and Ivy Ingram Larson. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Gold Coast Cure's Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program : Get a Killer Body Without Killing Yourself. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.