Eat as much as you want, throw away the kitchen scale, and forget that you ever heard the word calorie. That’s the prescription for real and lasting weight loss.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
The pathway to get to this world of wonders is an easy one to take. You have to eat quality food.
Those are the findings of a new and very expensive study led by a Stanford University scientist. They spent $8 million coming to these conclusions. Read these blogs, and you’ll get all that advice for free!
There’s no wonder “diet” that will get you there. High-fat, high-carb, high-protein, intermittent fasting, surge eating, no fat, no carbs, no protein, eating only food that’s blue … all fads. They won’t help you squeeze into those jeans you found at the back of your closet that you swear were loose when you last saw them.
You can even get highly specific meal plans tailored to your specific genome. You can count your calories down to the tiniest molecule. All that effort won’t really make a difference.
In order to achieve these results, you have to eat real food.
That means you need to cut down or out on processed flour, white bread, white rice, “plain” white pasta, white sugar … and the devil that is in so many details when you look at food labels: high-fructose corn syrup.
The guys with the clipboards studied more than 600 Americans living in the Bay Area around San Francisco and split them into two groups. One was given a “healthy” low-carb diet, and the other was given a “healthy” low-fat diet.
Then – and this is key – they were hooked up with dieticians who trained them to eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods. Whenever possible, they cooked these at home.
The low-fat eaters were trained to avoid options like low-sugar soft drinks, low-cal cookies, white bread, white rice, muffins and the like. Those are apparently healthy things from a calorie-count point of view that fill you with empty food content.
Instead, the diet guides coached them to eat brown rice, steel-cut oats, lean meat, quinoa, fresh fruit and “legumes” – things like beans, lentils and peas.
The diet guides got the low-carb folks to eat “healthy fats” like olive oil, salmon, avocados and hard cheeses, and other nutritious food like nuts and seeds, vegetables, nut butters and grass-fed beef and other meats.
Then they let them loose on the world. The participants kept coming back and asking when they should cut back on what they’re eating, when the program would start. They asked what caloric limits they should be hitting.
And they lost weight, often without realizing they were already on the program.
“The unique thing is that we didn’t ever set a number for them to follow,” Christopher Gardner, who led the research as the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said.
The Ph.D. types studied these people for an entire year. (Many diet studies are much shorter, showing only, duh, short-term results). Both groups lost weight. On average, the low-carb guys n gals lost just over 13 lbs, while the low-fat folks lost 11.7 lbs.
It didn’t matter if they ate less carbs, or less fat. Not only that, but they did fit in those jeans – they lost waist sizes, trimmed body-fat percentages, and improved their blood pressure.
And they were happier. The ones that lost the most weight said they had “changed their relationship with food.”
The doctors, making work for themselves, checked out if it mattered what kind of DNA people had. It didn’t. They checked if the people were insulin-resistant or not to see if that made a difference. It did not.
What mattered was whether they stopped eating while looking at their computer or driving their car. Whether they ate on the fly or started sitting down to a tasty home-cooked supper (phones down!) like folks in the old days.
DO NOT believe the hype that any chips are “low-fat” or that a soda with zero everything is good for you. A low-cal brownie is still a brownie. None of that gives you the nutrients you need for daily life – you still have to eat the same food on top of the bad options you have chosen.
Eat whole foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and avoid the crap, and you’ll lose weight without even noticing you’re doing it. It’s painful for this particular fitness coach to tell you this, but apparently you don’t even have to exercise all that much.
The scientists encouraged these Bay Area residents to hit the U.S. guidelines for physical activity, a pretty modest threshold of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.
Of course, exercise makes it easier to lose weight. But I keep posting about nutrition and the importance to eat whole foods because even if you exercise extensively, you’ll undo all that good work by making poor food choices. I’ve seen it happen.
The Bay Area guinea pigs that lost weight ate a “high-quality diet.” And by diet, they ate it in a biological sense: for life. Like, a lion’s diet is meat. They didn’t yo-yo diet or buy into a fad that if they only ate steak and eggs it would be good for them.
You know it’s not. Any temporary diet phase is just that: temporary. You may lose weight, mainly because you’re concentrating on what you’re eating and not eating as much, and then if you stop and go back to how you were eating before, all your hard work and perhaps a pinch of suffering will have all been for nothing.
The way to stay healthy and keep your weight at the level you want is to eat healthy food.
It’s deceptively easy, in fact it’s common sense, but so many of us fail to follow this simple practice. Consider this: only 3% of Americans do four simple things: eat five servings of fruit and/or veg per day; exercise 5 times per week for 30 mins; not smoke cigarettes; and maintain a healthy body-mass index.
The researchers conclude that a healthy diet is the way to stop obesity in the United States. To which I say: fat chance!
People just don’t do it. They’d rather go through the drive-through, grab a couple of burgers, some fries and a soda, and cram it in their face while behind the wheel.
Instead, they should be buying good ingredients, taking the food home, cooking it with care, and then savoring eating it with their families. Not only would their waistlines benefit, but their lifestyles and relationships would improve, too.
It cost $8 million to find that information out, which we all kind of knew all along.
Someone spent a lot of money confirming that knowledge though. Now the $8 million question.
Will you take it to heart?