(from Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss)
By Nicolette Dumke
Why is the population of the United States getting heavier and heavier with every passing year? We go on diets, we want to lose weight, and yet our average weight continues to increase. It’s because we are misinformed about how body chemistry affects weight loss and gain.
Here are the top ten things you may not know about weight loss:
1. Diets rarely work. Achieving permanent weight loss is extremely uncommon. After dieters reach their goal, they usually re-gain most or all of the weight they lost. They may even be heavier than when they started; if they lost muscle mass, their metabolic rate will be lower than before their diet.
2. Trying to lose weight does not mean having be hungry. Most diets which demand “No fat! No snacks!” have made us hungry, but hunger is part of why such diets don’t work. How long can one resist being hungry? Then when we finally eat, we overeat. In addition, hunger indicates falling blood sugar levels and rising insulin levels. High insulin levels affect enzymes that control fat metabolism and tell the body to store food rather than burn it and not to burn body fat.
3 “Counting calories is the way to lose weight” is a fallacy. Conventional diets say that all that matters when you want to lose weight is the number of calories consumed minus the number burned by physical activity. Although calories do have an effect, they are not the primary determining factor in how much we weigh. Our hormones, such as insulin, cortisol, leptin and others, are what really determine our weight, and we can control them. If your hormones are saying, “Deposit that food! A famine is in the land!” you will not be able to lose weight even if the number of calories you consume is very low.
4. Skipping breakfast, or other fasting, tells your hormones that you are at risk of being food deficient because you are living in a land of famine; this inhibits weight loss. Eating moderate amounts of food at three hour intervals (or two hour intervals if you get hungry that soon) is the best way to lose weight, and you’ll never be hungry! Eat breakfast within an hour of arising in the morning, and have small protein-containing snack between meals and a protein-containing bedtime snack.
5 “Fat is bad for your health – clogs the arteries – and should be eliminated” is a fallacy. This idea was derived from the calorie math described in #3 because fat contains nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for proteins and carbohydrates. (This is where the almost-no-fat, plenty-of-carbohydrate diets got their start). However, our bodies need fats of the right kind to make hormones, build cell membranes, and deal with inflammation.
6. The right fats promote weight loss! This sounds heretical, right? (And it doesn’t mean you should load up on unhealthy types of fat). Yet it is a scientific fact. Fats help with weight in two ways: (1) A meal or snack that contains fat will keep us satisfied much longer than a low-fat meal or snack, especially since these may be high in carbohydrates. Therefore, a person consumes less food! (2) Some fats, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation. With less inflammation, leptin, our master weigh control hormone, functions more efficiently. When it is functioning optimally and a person overeats, leptin will boost the metabolic rate and decrease appetite, thus automatically returning the person to a healthy weight. People whose weight fluctuates in a five pound range regardless of what they eat have a normally functioning leptin system.
7. Individuals may deny – or be unaware of - having problems with inflammation, but this is a fallacy if they are heavy. Sometimes inflammation is obvious; it causes redness, warmth, and/or pain. However, chronic inflammation can be silent. Overweight individuals may not know it, but they are experiencing silent inflammation. As we gain weight, our bodies do not add more fat cells. The fat cells we already have become larger and are just filled with more fat. They leak as they are stretched more and more. Then immune cells called macrophages come in to clean up the mess. The macrophages release inflammatory chemicals in the cleanup process. Some of these interfere with leptin functioning. In optimally healthy people, leptin is responsible for automatically maintaining weight at the right level. When leptin is made ineffective by inflammation, the dysfunction is called leptin resistance, meaning that even though a person might have normal or high levels of leptin, the leptin does not work to suppress appetite and speed metabolism to maintain a healthy weight.
8. Although #7 sounds like a depressing vicious cycle, there are ways to break the cycle. Briefly, these include consuming the right fats to reduce inflammation, eating to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable, and eating anti-inflammatory foods. The additional good news is that as the slimming process begins, leptin resistance abates. Then when an individual reaches optimal weight and has inflammation under control, the struggle to maintain a healthy weight will end. The newly-functional leptin system will control both appetite and weight.
9. There are two commonly held fallacies about eating carbohydrates: (1) Very low or no-carbohydrate diets are the best way to lose weight, and (2) A diet low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight. The USDA Food Pyramid promoted this second type of diet, and the weight of Americans increased every year when the Food Pyramid was our national standard. The truth is that we need carbohydrates for good health. Strictly limiting carbohydrates deprives us of the phytochemicals they contain which help reduce inflammation and allow our leptin to function properly. Furthermore, carbohydrates are not all alike. Simple carbohydrates are not all bad and starches are not all good for us. The glycemic index is a measure of how each carbohydrate affects blood sugar levels. This test is done using human volunteers, unlike calorie testing which is done with a machine (calorimeter). The best way to lose weight is to maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels by eating carbohydrates with low or moderate glycemic index scores and balance these carbohydrates with protein.
10. Exercise, if excessive, prolonged, or done when we are hungry, can keep us from losing weight or even cause us to deposit fat. (Read the whole story about this here: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/exercise_right.html). Moderate exercise, such as walking, gardening, house cleaning, or moderate bicycling or swimming, is the best way to lose weight because it does not “unsettle” our hormones. In addition, moderate exercise decreases leptin resistance, which was discussed in #7, thus making weight loss easier and normal self-regulating weight control possible. There may be other things that you never knew about weight loss, but ten is the limit for this list. To find out more about how to lose weight permanently without hunger or struggle, read Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss or visit http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com. The principles in the ten points above apply to everyone. This book will help people with food allergies or gluten intolerance lose weight while staying on their special diets, and it will help non-food-sensitive people lose weight as well.
About Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss
Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss answers the question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” Because it’s hard to put a puzzle together if you’re missing some of the pieces. We’ve been missing or ignoring the most important pieces in the puzzle of how our bodies determine whether to store or burn fat. Those puzzle pieces are hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and others. In addition, we’ve been given some puzzle pieces that don’t belong or fit in the weight-control puzzle. Much of what we’ve heard about dieting and exercise is incorrect and can cause loss of muscle mass instead of fat or even result in weight gain. The idea that weight is determined solely by “calories in minus calories out” is an assumption not based in reality. Most weight-loss diets require us to endure hunger much of the time, but hunger means that our blood sugar is falling or low and our insulin level may be rising. Prolonged hunger leads to the release of adrenal hormones, and the hormonal cascade which follows results in the inability to burn our own body fat as well as causing any fat we eat to be stored rather than burned to give us energy. Another problem with most weight loss diets is that they strictly dictate food choices, lack the flexibility that those on special diets for food allergies or gluten-intolerance require, and deprive us of pleasure. Individuals with food allergies face additional weight-loss challenges such as inflammation due to allergies which can lead to our master weight control hormone, leptin, being unable to do its job of maintaining a healthy weight. Those with gluten intolerance often eat a diet too high rice. Rice is the only grain which is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form; thus eating too much of it will raise insulin levels and cause the body to deposit fat. Although the recipes in this book were developed for those on special diets, non-sensitive people will enjoy them as well, and the weight loss principles in this book will help anyone lose weight. (A chapter of recipes made with wheat and other problematic foods is included for those on unrestricted diets). The most frustrating deficiency of conventional weight loss diets is that they don’t work long-term. Low-calorie, low-fat diets can lead to loss of muscle mass, and with less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so we need less food. Rare is the person who loses weight by counting calories and keeps it off after they liberalize their diet! However, continual dieting for the rest of your life is not the way you need to live, and you do not have to be deprived of pleasure in order to lose weight. Overweight is not due to a lack of willpower. Rather, it is due to a chemical imbalance in our bodies. Once we begin to correct that imbalance by applying the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we can lose weight without hunger or deprivation and can maintain a healthy weight permanently and easily by regaining normal self-regulating hormonal control of our weight.
Nicolette enjoys helping people with food allergies and gluten intolerance find solutions to their health and weight problems. She began writing books to help others with multiple food allergies over 20 years ago and the process culminated in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide. She says, “This book contains everything I know to help with food allergies,” and it has helped many people come back from near-starvation. Her other books address issues such as how to deal with time and money pressures on special diets, keeping allergic children happy on their diets, and more. A few years ago, while listening to the struggles of an allergic friend on the Weight Watchers™ diet, she remembered her own weight struggles* many years ago and thought, “There has to be a better way.” This was the beginning of a new quest, and she is now helping those who are overweight due to inflammation (often due to unsuspected food allergies) or high-in-rice gluten-free diets, as well as those who are not food sensitive but want to lose weight permanently, healthily, and without feeling hungry and deprived. Her unique approach to weight and health presented in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss is based on body physiology and reveals why conventional weight-loss diets work against rather than with our bodies and therefore rarely result in permanent weight loss. * (Nickie’s weight loss story, briefly, is that in her early 20s she could not lose on a calorie-counting diet in spite of repeatedly further reducing the number of calories she ate and swimming vigorously and often. Then she found a diet based on blood sugar control, lost weight without being hungry, and still weighs what she did in her mid-20s). Nickie has had multiple food allergies for 30 years and has been cooking for special diets for family members and friends for even longer. Regardless of how complex your dietary needs are or how much or little cooking you have done, she has the books and recipes you need. Her books present the science behind multiple food allergies and weight control in an easily-understood manner. She has BS degrees in medical technology and microbiology. She and her husband live in Louisville, Colorado and have two grown sons. You can visit Nickie’s websites at http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com and http://www.food-allergy.org.