Why is there a page on the best diet to lose weight here at ConsultingPhilosopher.com?
It’s a sample of how a consulting philosopher might be able to help you think better about some problem that is important to you.
One of every eight people worldwide who died in 2008, which is the most recent year for which figures are available, died of coronary heart disease. It’s the world’s biggest killer: it killed 7,300,000 that year [The Economist, 19 Nov 11].
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for coronary heart disease as well as other diseases of civilization such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Since about 7 of 10 North Americans are too fat, the odds are that you are too fat. Even if you aren’t, it’s almost certain that you have loved ones who are.
Furthermore, and this is very important, nearly all the suffering caused by the diseases of civilization are preventable! That’s right: almost nobody has to suffer from or die from the most prevalent killers among us.
Since living well or wisely is the goal and since it’s impossible to live well without being alive, it’s important to be alive. If you are too fat, understanding the best diet to lose weight is obviously important.
The purpose of this page is to help you improve your understanding about the best diet to lose weight. Whether or not you improve your behavior is solely up to you. Please do not make major changes in your diet without the prior blessing of your physician or other licensed medical professional.
Let’s try to minimize misunderstanding before laying out the most critical facts.
I’m using the word ‘diet’ in the phrase ‘the best diet to lose weight’ to mean ‘nutritional plan.’ It does not mean a short-term or temporary eating plan; in that sense, the diet described here is not the best diet to lose weight quickly. (Usually, a ketogenic diet is.)
The word ‘weight’ in the phrase ‘the best diet to lose weight’ really means ‘fat.’ There’s a difference between losing body weight and losing body fat. The goal here is the best lifelong nutritional plan for achieving and maintaining a healthful percentage of body fat.
Since it’s easier to lose body fat than it is to maintain a loss of body fat, it’s important to distinguish two phases: losing fat to achieve the desired percentage and maintaining that fat loss.
Using the best diet to lose weight quickly is likely to be counterproductive. The faster you lose fat, the more difficult it is to maintain the fat loss. For that reason, I recommend losing weight at the rate of about 2 pounds weekly.
Notice that that is weight loss rather than fat loss. Losing one pound of fat equates to losing about one and one half to two pounds of weight.
That is the goal for the best diet to lose weight: 1 pound of fat loss weekly, which is a loss of one and one-half to two pounds of body weight weekly.
What’s the best way to do that? What is the best diet to lose weight?
Since there are two groups of humans to model, we don’t have to guess. All we have to do is to understand their behavior and emulate them.
The first group is your own ancestors. Humans have been around for about 250,000 years and proto-humans have been around for several million years. Your ancestors were not fat. What did they do that we don’t do?
They ate differently and they moved differently. Let’s here temporarily set aside how they moved (exercised) differently and focus on how they ate differently.
They never ate unnatural foods. In particular, they never ate refined, processed carbohydrates. They were hunter-gatherers who ate a lot of flesh foods that were high in natural sources of fats and proteins.
Your ancestors didn’t start eating mostly grains (or potatoes or legumes) until the First Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. These days, the three top sources of human calories come from three grains!
Unfortunately, our bodies haven’t had time to catch up to that huge dietary change. Our genes are 99.99% the same as our ancestors prior to the First Agricultural Revolution. That is a chief reason why our modern diet is killing us unnecessarily quickly.
The second group are natural fitness models, bodybuilders, certain athletes such as swimmers and gymnasts, and some movie stars. They are not fat. They have strong, trim bodies. (‘Natural’ here refers to those in this group who have never used anabolic steroids.)
These people pay attention to their diets. If they do eat carbs, the calories from those carbs are burned up doing exercise (rather than getting stored as body fat).
The best diet to lose weight is the diet used by these two groups. While some scientists have studied our prehistoric ancestors, obviously it’s not easy for the rest of us to use them as role models. Still, it’s possible to read about them as well as to observe those in the second group.
There’s no guesswork involved if you want to lose body fat. Just understand the physical habits of these two groups and emulate them. Then tweak what you are doing by examining the results you obtain.
Here are the seven specific recommendations concerning the best diet to lose weight:
1. Apart from deliberately cheating (see #7 below), avoid consuming any refined processed carbohydrates. (If you are not sure what they are, click here.)
2. Except for deliberately cheating (see #7 below), keep your daily carbohydrate intake to 25 grams or less and get those carbohydrates from (preferably organic) vegetables and berries.
3. Consume plenty of protein, preferably from natural sources. Click here for a list of good sources of protein. ‘Plenty’ means to consume at least as many grams of protein daily as the number of your lean body weight in pounds. For example, if you are at 25% body fat and weight 200 lbs., consume at least 150 grams of protein daily. By itself, this undermines food cravings.
4. Eat a meal about every 3 or 4 waking hours and spread your nutrient intake throughout those meals. This will maximize the thermic effect of consuming plenty of protein, prevent your body from going into a negative nitrogen balance (which signals that you are losing lean muscle), and prevent hunger.
5. Drink plenty of clean water and restrict the consumption of other fluids. ‘Plenty’ means at least half a gallon daily and more if you are exercising seriously. Some green tea (sweetened with stevia) is fine. No more than 1 alcoholic drink daily for women and 2 for men — and it would be better to reserve that consumption for special occasions such as a weekly cheat day.
6. It’s best also to exercise regularly. I recommend 1 or 2 weekly, full-body strength training sessions of about 30 minutes each and 2 or 3 intense aerobic sessions of either GXP or HIIT. In addition, it’s an excellent practice to walk briskly for an hour once a week. (If you’d like some excellent reading suggestions about effective exercise, click here.)
7. Give yourself a cheat day once weekly or, for maintenance, perhaps twice weekly. However, even on your cheat day, do not eat until you feel stuffed; instead, eat until your hunger goes away and stop eating.
This will not only provide you with an important psychological break, but it will also prevent your body from going into starvation mode and lowering its metabolic rate.
To lose fat you want to increase your metabolic rate (by, for example, eating sufficient protein regularly and exercising properly) rather than decrease it.
The way to do this that is the most fun is to eat high glycemic index carbs and fats together on your cheat day. So, go ahead, having pizza weekly can help you lose weight!
The key hormones in play here are insulin and leptin. They rise and fall together. Eating high glycemic index carbs and fat together will give you an insulin spike.
When you use the best diet to lose weight described here, it will not only keep your insulin spikes to a minimum but it will also keep your leptin spikes to a minimum.
In about a week, however, your leptin level will decline by about half. That’s not good: when your leptin level declines, so does your metabolic rate as well as fat burning.
Your cheat day will reverse the ill effects of dieting and send your body back into fat burning. It only takes one cheat day every 3 to 7 days to bring your leptin levels back up in order to begin burning fat again.
To enhance this process, keep your calorie intake relatively low on the day following your cheat day, and it is best also to do strength training on that day.
The more you understand the habits of people in the second group of models, you more you already understand that they actually follow this best diet to lose weight or something very close to it. Surely, too, you understand that our ancestors had natural highs and lows in their daily caloric intake and, sometimes, starved for a while when their hunting or gathering produced meager or no results.
If you follow this best diet to lose weight, your chances of having to endure overweight or obesity, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and the other diseases of civilization will decrease.
So there is good news here: if you will use this best diet to lose weight, you can maximize your chances of flourishing physically while still enjoying the benefits of civilization, which were unknown to our prehistoric ancestors.
For more help at no cost, click here and then use the link to download the e-book How to Eat Less — Easily!
If you want some excellent reading suggestions on the best diet to lose weight, click here.
I hope that this page ended your confusion about how to eat well. Best wishes!