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Why Diets Don't Work

If you want to lose weight, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed obesity as a “worldwide epidemic.” It is estimated that 250 million people worldwide are obese, which is about 7% of the adult population. Dr. Jaap Seidell of the International Task Force Obesity feels these numbers are rising and quickly becoming the fastest public health concern. Obesity is particularly prevalent in the USA, where one in seven children and adolescents are obese and a staggering one third of the adult population.

With over 2,000 diet books out there, you have probably tried some sort of diet. Most likely, the diet was one that promoted cutting calories. Calorie-restricting diets don’t work overall because they disrupt enzymes and hormones. In addition, the body’s initial response to a skipped meal is a rise in stress hormones. The body then responds to the stress hormones by releasing stored glycogen from the liver, which then raises the blood sugar. Repeated episodes of this stressor result in a yo-yoing of blood sugar, creating yet another major stressor to the body. An overstressed body from skipping meals and blood sugar fluctuations will not function at an optimum level and for many is not an ideal state for losing weight.

Any time you miss a meal your body increases the release of lipogenic (fat storing) enzyme. When the lipogenic enzymes increase, the enzymes you really want, the lipolytic or fat burning enzyme, are decreased. In a cruel twist, the effect is more pronounced in women than men. Women can generate three times more lipogenic enzymes than men.

Another hormone to keep in mind is insulin. Many times, diets can get someone eating too many carbohydrates for their metabolic type. Metabolic type is eating macronutrients in percentages that match your genetic type, energy demands and seasonal demands. So, when dieting, carbohydrates are overeaten while proteins and healthy fats are under eaten. This results in your blood sugar being high and insulin needed to bring it down. If you’re active insulin will store sugar in muscle. If you are not active or muscles cells are already full, then extra calories will be stored in fat cells. This starts around the belly button moving around the middle of the body and is sometimes called Syndrome X. Once those fat cells get full, fat accumulation extends to other areas of the body. Exercise keeps muscle insulin sensitive, inactive muscle becomes insulin resistant. Eating the appropriate amount of protein and healthy fats for your metabolic type will keep your blood sugar more consistent and feeling satiated.

There are only two forces in the universe, Yin, and Yang. The equivalent in us is our autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The entire process of dieting and a constant elevated sympathetic tone, fight-or-flight state, will leave you tired. When you are tired you fall prey to the food manufacturers with their quick fixes and convincing marketing. These ultra processed foods result in an inability to replace vital nutrients that we need to spend living, not just surviving. Inevitably people need to reach for more coffee, teas, energy drinks, soda, and sweets to compensate for the energy deficit. The truth is any stimulant elevates the sympathetic nervous system to release more stress hormones. After a while of living this way, the adrenal glands become exhausted, resulting in several symptoms, commonly found in the chronic fatigue symptom profile.

When trying to determine how many calories to consume, many fail to calculate how many calories it takes to keep you alive. A whooping 50-70% of all calories are used to just keep the lights on, not- playing outside or cleaning the house, just staying alive. Another 5-15% of calories are used for digestion and elimination. Then there is the X factor. This is your daily activities and how your individual body functions. This can include how we interpret stress, relationship challenges, fidgeting and spontaneous activity. Therefore, we need calories to support a healthy metabolism. Be aware that anytime you try to run your body without adequate calories, the right mix of calories, or poor-quality calories you drastically increase your chances of slowing your metabolism and eventually becoming fat. Eating whole foods for your metabolic type will convert calories to energy more efficiently and help maintain ideal body image.

Okay enough of the scary, but true stuff. What can you do to lose weight and be healthy?

  1. Eat right for your metabolic type by eating balanced macronutrients in proportions based on your genetics and daily demands. Genetics are based on your family history and origins. For example, if you are a Scandinavian, you will not do well on a vegetarian diet. Check the work of Weston A Price and his studies of sixteen diverse cultures and how what they ate on availability.

  2. Eat real food regularly to satisfy hunger. You can consume slightly smaller meals and include healthy snacks to elevate metabolic rate.

  3. Eat high quality nutrient rich foods!

  4. Drink plenty of water. You should drink half your body weight in ounces daily. Pro tip: your cells enjoy water that has minerals, e.g., spring water, artesian well water or filtered water with a pinch of salt mined from the earth.

  5. Move your body. You don’t have to be a gym rat or a runner. Just simply remain active by parking far away, taking the stairs or doing some yardwork.

  6. Go to sleep by 10:30 and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Disrupting your sleep/wake cycle equals more stress hormones for your body. We have discussed how stress hormones make us gain or hold onto weight.

  7. Burn your diet books!

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