Stop suffering on the scale—do THIS instead
The holidays are over, and now we’re being barraged with weight-loss ads.
Seems that a new year is supposed to usher in a “new you”—or more accurately, a “thinner you.”
Most of these so-called diet plans are based on the theory that if you consume (eat) more calories than you expend (burn), you’ll gain weight.
Sounds simple, right?
But this theory leads to unhealthy ideas (voraciously fed by the processed food and drink industry) about being able to eat dangerous foods, like sugars and refined carbs…as long as you “burn them off” through excessive exercise (which causes many health problems of its own, as I often report).
And it fails to explain why there are many people who don’t overeat, but still gain or keep on extra weight. Or why other people can eat all they want without putting on an extra pound.
Well, a new scientific analysis authored by 17 international researchers and public health experts attempts to answer these dichotomies.1 It presents strong evidence that weight management should NOT be based on how much you eat…but rather what you eat.
Why “calories in” doesn’t equal “calories out”
The analysis argues that the “energy balance principle” (EBP) for weight management should be replaced with the “carbon-insulin model” (CIM).
The EBP draws on the First Law of Thermodynamics, formulated in the 1800s. This law of physics says energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In the human body, this has been interpreted to mean that if you consume more calories than you burn (or otherwise excrete), the excess is stored in the body (primarily as fat). And since the early 1900s, modern medical science and practice has been built around this simple idea.
But the problem is—it’s not true. Despite decades of obsession with counting calories and calorie restriction, the obesity pandemic is worse than ever. And it increases risk for type II diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions—not to mention, a higher risk for a fatal outcome from COVID-19.
The authors of the new scientific analysis point out that in the “energy balance” way of thinking, all calories are alike to the body, metabolically. But plenty of research (and real-life examples) show that intense caloric restriction drives hunger, while also lowering people’s metabolisms.
So, the more you cut calories, the more your body shuts down metabolically and tries to conserve calories, which helps keep on the weight, and actually FORCES YOU TO EAT MORE. That’s certainly not the answer for a healthy lifetime diet and weight!
The CIM model, on the other hand, proposes that your hormonal and metabolic responses to your overall diet—not simply calorie counts—cause your body to store excess fat. (And this may help explain why some people can eat more than others, without suffering on the scale—and vice versa.)
The theory is that certain foods increase your body’s insulin levels, which leads to more fat storage.
Although the CIM model hasn’t been appreciated—let alone embraced—by the mainstream, it is supported by extensive evidence, from lab experiments, to clinical trials, going back nearly a century…
What types of foods are we talking about?
The authors of the new scientific analysis say foods with a high “glycemic load” are responsible for increased insulin levels in the body and subsequent fat storage and weight gain.
High-glycemic foods are defined as foods that are quickly digested and rapidly raise blood sugar, causing a strong insulin response. But really, “high-glycemic” may be just another name for highly processed, refined “food” products that cause hormonal responses telling our bodies to store more calories in the form of fats. (Yet another fatal downfall of these “Frankenfoods.”)
A lot of the nonsense about the “glycemic index” for all kinds of different foods, including whole fruits and vegetables, is just a bunch of hooey designed to sell a lot of useless books. (I had to sit on a book panel with the guy who came up with that idea 25 years ago, and it was already clear to me then that there was no real science behind it, and it never made any sense to me anyhow. It was just a catchy title from book publicists.)
So, forget all that hype about the glycemic index—the REAL culprit in the CIM model is what all the other real science tells us: Refined sugars and carbs, and highly processed foods.
Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital, who is the lead author of the new scientific analysis, said that during the recent craze about artificial “low-fat” foods, people ended up consuming more fake, processed foods that typically substitute fats with refined sugars and processed carbs (see page 3).
“Given the choice between bread and butter, for years we focused on getting rid of the butter,” he said. “But maybe between the two, the bread is the bigger issue.”2
The best foods for weight loss
Like many studies before it, the new scientific analysis shows once again that healthy weight is about eating a moderate, balanced diet of whole foods…instead of packaged, processed products—together with sensible, moderate exercise. (This also helps prime your immune system, as I discuss on page 7.)
Eating whole foods rich in natural fibers supports healthy probiotics in the gastrointestinal tract, which helps naturally reduce insulin. And study after study shows that the more insulin you have in your system, the hungrier you are—and the more you eat.
So, if you want to see a “new you” in the new year, DON’T go on a traditional, caloric-restriction diet. Instead, commit to adding more whole foods to your daily diet—and cut sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.
As always, I recommend enjoying plenty of grass-fed and -finished meat (including red meat, like lamb), wild-caught fish and seafood, full-fat, organic dairy (such as butter, eggs, cheese, and yogurt), fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans (legumes), and olives and olive oil.
1“The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Sep 13:nqab270.