What Diet Will Allow You to Lose Weight and Keep It Off?

More and more often I talk to folks who are on a certain “diet.” The big question for them is, how can you keep the weight off permanently? Anyone who has ever done some serious calorie cutting or Weight Watchers knows, weight can be lost and then regained with great ease.

Over the next few weeks my blogs will focus on the currently popular “diets” like Paleo, Keto, and Mediterranean. I will describe each one, highlight the pro’s and con’s, and clarify how this diet might be particularly helpful for some.

My primary purpose is to help you decide which diet will allow you to lose the weight AND keep it off.

Today the discussion is the standard American diet (SAD), the default diet of the vast majority of Americans today. This diet is both high in carbohydrate and fat. This is not a planned diet; nobody goes down a list and purposely selects a SAD diet. It just happens because we have eaten it all our lives and our taste buds like it a lot.

So here’s the deal. Carbohydrate (sugar) and fat are the primary sources of energy in your food. Vegetables don’t have much sugar. Starches have TONS. The amount of total energy you eat BEYOND what is required for your body to keep going will result in lots of body fat and eventually illness.  So with that in mind —

The typical SAD diet is heavy with starchy commercially processed food, stuff like pasta, bread (bread and more bread), chips of every possible combination (double row aisle at the grocery), cereals, sweet any-and-everything, fried any-and-everything.

If you start with pasta (high starch) and then make it taste good with the addition of butter, cream, cheese, you have a high carb starch/high fat food. It is essentially impossible to make a sweet anything without both flour (high carb starch), sugar (high carb) and fat in the crust (high fat); you have a high carb/high fat food. Ice cream is carbohydrate (sugar) and fat.

Fried food inevitably seems to need a batter, flour or cornmeal, (high carb starch) and then fry it up in oil. The oil gets absorbed and voila’, high fat. Bread (including corn bread) is just high carb starch, period. It’s the volume along with the fat you spread on it (butter) or dip it into (olive oil) or ladle over it (gravy which is both flour {high carb starch} and fat {high fat}. And then there are pancakes with butter and syrup.

So you can see how it sneaks up on you. A diet that is a combination of high carb (starch or plain old sugar) and high fat is going to be a major overload of energy and just guaranteed to put on and keep putting on the weight.

Sugar in any form digests quickly in your body, gets delivered to your cells quickly, and your brain suggests (firmly) that you have used up available energy in your blood and should eat again. This is called “hunger.” It’s so hard to ignore your brain.

You don’t get hungry based on the number of calories eaten. You get hungry because the energy consumed from sugar has been used up and appetite rears its ugly head.

The SAD diet often consists of three meals plus innumerable snacks (or perpetual snacking all day.)  The inevitable excess energy consumed (both in sugar and fat) will be stored somewhere in body fat, over and over again.

Whole vegetables and fruits are natural sources of small amounts of carbohydrates, minimal fat, and a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you can’t do without. On the other hand, processed foods that are made primarily of starch (wheat, corn, soy, and other grains as well as root vegetables like potatoes) are extremely high in carbohydrates (sugar), tasteless on their own until they are augmented with fat or even more sugar, and nutrient deficient.

Plus plain old sugar and grain based starches are most often the primary causes of autoimmune dysfunctions like arthritis, lupus, etc. Everything likely to spark an autoimmune response is common in this diet. Read more about autoimmune diseases here.

In other words, overfed, undernourished, and sick. This isn’t the best option for good health.

Weight can be lost and managed on the SAD diet by tightly controlling calories. But this is difficult to do (particularly long term) because, regardless of calories, hunger soon returns. Hunger is impossible to ignore. You might exercise enough will power to get past it part of the time but you won’t ignore it.

Counting calories and exercising will-power every day for the rest of your life is an almost overwhelming idea that just takes the joy out of eating. The only pro I can find in the SAD diet is it is convenient. Everything else is a con.

Next week we will take a look at the Paleo diet. Perhaps that will work better.