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.
Coronary heart disease is the world’s biggest killer. It’s impossible to live well without being alive.
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.
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 of 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.
To eat well is to eat to maximize health and longevity.
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 about 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.
Your ancestors didn’t start eating mostly grains or potatoes or legumes or dairy products until the First Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago. These days, the three top sources of human calories in the world come from three grains and the fourth source is potatoes!
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’s a chief reason why our modern diet is killing us unnecessarily quickly.
The second group is 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, processed foods or lots of protein at all, they are used up doing exercise (rather than getting stored as body fat).
Furthermore, there is a third group to emulate: our tree-dwelling, pre-human ancestors who ate a lot of leaves, which is why eating plenty of leafy greens is still good for us.
The best diet to lose weight is a diet based on the diets of these three groups.
NOTE: If you don’t value flourishing physically, you won’t benefit from continuing to read here. If you do value maximum health and longevity and are willing to eat more like those three groups, you should benefit from continuing to read here.
There’s no guesswork involved if you want to lose body fat. Just understand the eating habits of these three groups and emulate them by eating more like they did. Then tweak what you are doing by examining the results you obtain.
Here are the seven specific recommendations concerning the best diet to reduce your percentage of body fat:
1. What you don’t eat is more important than what you do eat. Stop eating what our prehistoric ancestors didn’t eat. So, for example, stop eating grains (e.g., wheat, soy, oats, rye, rice, corn, popcorn, and quinoa), potatoes, and all products made from them. Stop eating all legumes such as beans. Except for avocados and small amounts of organic berries in season, stop eating all fruits (and all fruits have seeds including cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squashes, eggplant, zucchini, and pumpkin. Stop eating dairy products made with cow’s milk including yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cheese, kefir, and cottage cheese. Stop eating sugars.
2. Keep your daily carbohydrate intake to 25 grams or less. It’s likely best to ensure that calories from carbohydrates don’t contribute more than 5% of your daily calories.
3. The other 95% of your calories should come from fats and proteins, preferably from natural sources. (Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients.)
4. If you want to reduce your percentage of body fat, consider a modified ketogenic diet. If you are unfamiliar with it, here’s a post to introduce you to keto. By ‘modified’ I mean modified in accordance with The Plant Paradox by Steven R. Gundry, M.D.
5. In general, it’s usually wise whenever possible to avoid or severely restrict consuming the products of farms and ranches.
6. Don’t neglect the micronutrients either. Drink plenty of clean water. As a starting point, consider drinking in ounces half your body weight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., drink 100 ounces of water. Tea is fine. A cup or two of coffee in the morning is fine. (Use organic stevia as a sweetener if you want.) No more than 1 alcoholic drink daily for women and 2 for men (and, sadly for me, since it’s made using grains, it’s probably best to avoid beer).
Sensible supplementation matters.
Furthermore, it’s best to minimize anti-nutrients such as lectins as well as to maximize nutrients when you are planning your diet. (The best book I’ve read on this is Gundry’s The Plant Paradox.)
7. It’s best to exercise regularly. I recommend 1 or 2 brief, intense weekly strength training sessions (see my Weight Lifting as an introduction) and intense weekly aerobic sessions (see P.A.C.E. if you need a good program).
Brisk walking has psychological as well as physiological benefits. [A brisk walking rate on a flat surface is just under 15 minutes per mile.] As long as you are also doing P.A.C.E.-style workouts, feel free also to walk 1 to 5 miles once, twice, or thrice weekly.
We have metabolic flexibility in the sense that we are able to fuel ourselves primarily with either fats or sugars.
Our bodies will burn sugars before burning fats. So, if we eat plenty of both, our bodies will burn the sugars first and store everything else as body fat.
So the best strategy for losing body fat is to stop consuming so much sugar to put our bodies into fat-burning mode. This is the justification for low carb diets. It’s why not all calories are created equal.
Incidentally, starvation is natural. I recommend at least 2 or 3 consecutive days of starvation once every six months. It’s a water fast in which you may and should consume water, tea, and supplements.
(First, though, get the go-ahead from your health care professional in advance based on a thorough physical examination as well as instructions on how to do it properly. In fact, it’s a good idea never to make major changes in your dietary or exercise programs without the prior consent of your primary care physician or other healthcare professional.)
If you reduce your percentage of body fat to below 15% for healthy men and below 20% for healthy women, your chances of having to endure overweight or obesity, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and the other diseases of civilization will decrease.
So there is good news here: it’s possible to maximize your chances of flourishing physically while still enjoying the benefits of civilization, which were unknown to our prehistoric ancestors.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about how to eat well. Partly that’s the fault of institutions such as the American Heart Association and medical schools, which train physicians to treat diseases rather than to prevent them.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to determine for yourself the most effective ways for you to eat well, exercise well, and reduce stress well.
I wish you well!