Men and women come into my office in different states of health and wellness and ask me the same question. What is the best diet to lose weight and achieve optimal health? The answer is not complicated but it’s definitely not simple. There are thousands of books written about what diet you should follow and most of them have the goal of patients losing weight. Unfortunately you can lose weight by following the Hollywood Cookie diet but your health will deteriorate and you will feel terrible. So what I generally recommend to my patients will depend on the state of their arterial health (do they have clogged arteries), their blood work and whether or not they have food allergies. There is no such thing as one diet that works for everyone.
1. Are there general principles that you recommend most patients follow?
Regardless of where you are in the metabolic spectrum of perfect health to death, every single patient will benefit by eliminating (as much as possible) refined sugar and processed carbohydrates from their diet. Just taking this one step will lower insulin levels, which lowers inflammation and will ultimately lead to weight loss and better health. The health risks associated with eating sugar have been well documented and this blog is not intended to educate you on how bad sugar is for your health.
Secondly, I tell every patient that they need to eat breakfast. The problem with skipping breakfast is that you have been fasting all night and using up the sugar stores in your liver. As you wake up and get your day going your body needs fuel so it now has to manufacture it. One of the ways it does that is by increasing cortisol which is a stress hormone. Chronically elevated cortisol levels suppress your immune system, impact brain health and cause you to retain fat around the mid section. So eating breakfast keeps your cortisol levels in the normal range which ultimately leads to better heath.
2. When and what should I eat?
If you want to lose weight its really important that you keep insulin levels in the optimal range throughout the day. And how you do that is by eating every 3 hours during the day. I personally eat at 8Am, 10Am, 12:30PM, 3PM and 6PM. Each of my meals has about 25 grams of protein and 25-30 grams of carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, brown rice or sweet potato are the best carbs to stick to) and about 10grams of fat. The easiest thing to do to figure out how many grams of carbs and protein are in a given food is to download the app MyFitnessPal. Here is the link: https://www.myfitnesspal.com
The best book I have found that explains this style of eating is Body For Life by Bill Phillips. His program works very well and patients can stick to it indefinitely without feeling like they aren’t living a boring existence! But in a nutshell, at every meal you want to eat a serving of protein and a serving of carbohydrates. The serving size should be about the size of your fist. If you want a more detailed calculation than you start by calculating your protein requirement for the day: 1.5grams/kg/day (for people who work out). So if you are 100kg than you would eat 150 grams of protein daily. I recommend keeping your carbohydrate intake around a 1:1 ratio, which would equate to 150mg of carbohydrates per day. You would then divide that up into 5 or 6 meals and eat 25-30g of protein and 25-30grams of carbohydrates at each meal.
3. What about hormone imbalance and diet and weight loss?
There is no question that as hormone levels decline in the body our ability to stay lean becomes more difficult. Many hormone like testosterone and growth hormone are lipolytic meaning they help the body metabolize fat. In my practice, when I put men on testosterone I typically see a gain in lean body mass anywhere from 5-20 pounds and a loss of body fat anywhere from 10 pounds to 40 pounds within the first few months. However it is really important that you understand that you can’t optimize hormones and expect to feel better if you continue to eat pizza and drink soda.
Here is a article published in the Journal or Obesity Review looking at the Testosterone and Obesity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25982085
The reality is that at the current rate 65% of Americans will be obese because of poor diet, lack of exercise and hormone imbalance. There is no magic bullet but there are certain dietary principles that if you follow will lead to more optimal health and improved vitality. More than anything, we need to stop consuming so much sugar if we want any chance of looking and feeling great. That coupled with hormone optimization and regular exercise if the secret to looking and feeling better than you have in years. If you would like more information and make an appointment to get your blood levels checked, please call Dr. Breen’s office at 877-721-0047