BENGALURU: Calorie-restriction diets don’t work and, instead, create more problems. Yet, shows like The Biggest Loser send the wrong message to millions of viewers worldwide, thus encouraging the healthcare industry to produce more ‘quick fixes’ for weight loss for people who are desperate to shed weight in the easiest way possible.
Most people go on a diet. They try a particular one, lose some weight and then plateau, bringing upon themselves more deprivation, work, stress of failure and an inability to keep up.
The focus, instead, should be on finding the root cause of why you put on weight and why you are unable to lose it.
Your body’s needs are what define you. A toxic body craves toxic food, while a healthy body craves healthier, cleaner food. When you’re healthy, your metabolism speeds up, taste buds function differently, you don’t feel hungry all the time and your body burns fat more efficiently. There are certain triggers, which, if not addressed, make your body gain weight no matter what you do. One of these is cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which makes you feel hungrier than required and crave fatty and sugary foods.
You also feel exhausted easily, your metabolism slows down and it becomes impossible to burn fat.
In most diets, there’s too much emphasis on the number of calories being consumed and used up, without focus on whether or not you have the ability to burn fat.
When you are nutritionally starved, your body turns on the fat-storing switch. You will be nutritionally starved if you eat the wrong food (quality and quantity) or have a poor digestive system that cannot break down and assimilate nutrients from your food. You stay hungry as your body yearns nutrients that it needs to do its job to power cells, to work and to stoke the metabolism. For example, processed foods, such as sugar, bread and even many varieties of table salt, trick your body into thinking it’s getting certain nutrients while your cells are actually weak and undernourished. It’s more important to add foods that can change that equation.
That’s also why I don’t believe in restrictive diets because they trigger the fat switch. The body stores fat as a reserve for situations when it may not receive adequate nutrition. Emotional and mental stress also cause the same chemical imbalance and result in the body storing fat.
Therefore, every time you force yourself to lose weight, your body is going to want to store fat. You can’t take the mind out of the equation of losing weight because stress causes a change in the body’s chemistry, which could activate your fat switch. When I ask my patients when their weight gain or illness began, the answer is almost always when emotional or mental stress was at its highest: a bad relationship, anger at someone or their own selves, low self-worth, insecurity, divorce, family problems, obsessive compulsive disorder, need for excessive control, violence, sexual abuse or a poor sex life.
Weight loss, if done quick and in the wrong way, has serious side effects: nutritional deficiencies, low immunity and issues that can affect the quality of life. It can bring on disease, and mental issues as well, depression being one of the most common. Do it the right way, and the process will change you. It may take a little time, but it will leave you with a sustainable lifestyle that is in your control, not a piece of paper with food and calories chalked out that are supposed to dictate your weight loss and ability to get slim.
You need a smart food structure that adds value to your life and likes. Weight loss is multifactorial and so is metabolism, and all those factors have to be looked into.
Excerpted from The Magic Weight Loss Pill By Luke Coutinho and Anushka Shetty, with permission from Penguin Random House India.