Cover photo by Simon A.Eugster.
2015: The Year you found a diet that works… forever:
Everyone knows that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Everyone also knows ‘how’ to lose weight. You just eat less, and exercise more. If that doesn’t work, you must be weak-willed: too lazy and too damn greedy. If you could just control yourself, you’d get the body you always wanted!
Except, as overweight people across the world know, that is bullshit. The weight just doesn’t come off, unless you starve yourself. Try starving yourself permanently and you won’t be surprised to learn that dieters eventually crash and burn, and gain all their weight back, with interest.
I’m here to vindicate you. You’re not lazy, or greedy, just a human being, like the rest of us. And however strong-willed we try to be, we’re ultimately governed by our biology. As Gary Taubes so eruditely points out in his book, ‘Why We Get Fat and What to Do About it’, the above prescription, to eat less and exercise more, is the advice you might give someone to make them hungry. Why then, is it the standard advice for weight loss? Because unfortunately, nutrition science is in a dire state, and as a result the advice it puts forth is complete rubbish.
So how do I lose weight?
Firstly, you don’t want to lose weight, you want to lose body fat. It’s an uncontroversial, incontrovertible fact that body fat is governed by a hormone called insulin. Insulin, in turn, is controlled by dietary carbohydrate, or put simply, anything that contains sugar, white flour, or starch. Replace these foods with more fat, like butter, lard, cream, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish and meat, and the body fat will fall off. You need not count calories. You need not go hungry. You need not exercise. All you need to do is swap the bread, pasta, pizza, rice, and white potato for more dietary fat. Follow your hunger: if you’re hungry, eat, but eat a low-carboydrate, moderate protein, high natural fat meal. What does this look like? A piece of meat or fish, with green vegetables. Think salmon and broccoli. Think steak and asparagus. Think omelette (yolks ‘n all) and salad. Liberally coat your greens in butter. And your meat. Cook them gently with salt, pepper, and herbs, and drizzle your meal with high quality olive oil, or spoonfuls of crème fraiche. The fats will do three things: satisfy your hunger, teach your liver to burn fat, and help you absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in the greens. Then watch the excess weight fall off. As Tim Ferriss says: don’t drink calories. Orange juice is so high in sugar you’re better off with a can of Coke. Drink neither: opt for water, or unsweetened tea or coffee, and if you must, the occasional diet soda. If you crave sweets, as most carbaholics do, eat more fat. Have a slice of cheese, or some fatty meat. If the sweet demons still haunt you, consider strategic supplementation. Still hungry? Why not eat another meal? Stop feeling guilty about your hunger. Just eat your fill of fatty, low carbohydrate foods. Check the ingredients of everything you buy for sugar and hidden carbohydrate. A general rule is to not buy the food if it has an ingredient list (ever see one on a head of broccoli?).
Truly, it’s a sorry state of things to remind people to eat real food to lose weight, but that’s all you need to do. Eat natural, whole, real food. Avoid grains (bread, pasta, pizza, rice, oats), rid your house of sugary treats, and focus on eating real food. Eat anything a caveman would recognise as food: meat, fish, leafy greens, animal fats and occasional tubers in times of famine (or tighter purse strings). Get rid of those nasty vegetable oils (apart from olive oil), bin the margarine, and cook with butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard or tallow. Eat the highest quality food your budget will allow: local and organic wherever possible. Expensive? It’s only your health, vitality, and longevity we’re talking about here. Need to bulk your meals out with something? Are you training super hard for an endurance event? White rice, sweet potatoes, squashes, and pulses are amongst the most acceptable forms of carbohydrate for your health and waistline. But remember, you don’t need them. Humans only need protein and fat. Consider that fact the next time your GP recommends a high-carbohydrate diet for you to lose weight. Why on earth would you base your diet around carbohydrates, when they promote fat storage, and when your body can actually make all the glucose it needs? Cavemen weren’t eating rice cakes, nor should you.
Good luck, but you won’t need it.
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