Rethinking Weight Loss

You’ve tried them all – the standard Atkins diet, the New Atkins diet, the Eco Atkins diet, the Naturally Thin diet, the Thin for Life diet, the Skinny Vegan diet, the Shangri-La diet – and yet, nothing seems to work. You’ve walked, skipped, ran, jogged, biked, jumped and rowed, but you never shed more than a few pounds, and they always seem to come back faster than you can shout, “Triglycerides!”.  You’ve quaffed rank green liquids, crunched strange black nuts, feasted on acerbic yellow fruits, and eaten stringy purple leaves, to no avail.

In the constant ever changing conversation about obesity, there is a new interesting viewpoint that may warrant further consideration. According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert and professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, you are unable to shed excess pounds because your weight loss regime is based on conventional wisdom – reduce calorie consumption, and the unwanted pounds will inevitably ebb – which, in his view, is deeply flawed. He believes that the notion is as fallacious as trying to reduce fever using an ice bath.

From a certain vantage point, fever can be viewed as an inability to shed excess heat. The logical corollary of this erroneous perspective is that ice baths should make an excellent treatment for fever. In practice, however, the body would respond to the sudden drop in temperature by constricting blood vessels and triggering shivering fits in an attempt to conserve and generate heat, eventually making the fever worse. For this reason, physicians typically treat fever using aspirin and other medications instead of ice baths.

The same logic can be extended to one’s inability to lose weight. Consider this; when the body fails to make adequate insulin, as is the case with Type I diabetes, weight loss inevitably follows, no matter how many calories the sufferer consumes. If the same individual is given excess insulin, body weight increases. Insulin instructs the body to store calories, primarily in fat cells. According to Dr. Ludwig, the key to losing body weight therefore lies in lowering physiological insulin production.

Easier said than done, you say; insulin production cannot, after all, be easily controlled at will. However, it is possible to coax the body into lowering insulin production by reducing consumption of processed carbohydrates – refined grains, sugar, starchy vegetables and so on – and subsisting on a diet that correctly balances protein and fat. Surprising as it may sound, a high fat diet is the best way of altering the body’s metabolism. It not only lowers insulin production, but also stops the cycle of hunger, craving, and overeating by ensuring that there are enough calories in the bloodstream to stop the brain from triggering the desire for food.

Dr. Ludwig’s argument essentially turns conventional weight loss wisdom on its head. In his view, obesity is not a state of surfeit, but of starvation, precipitated by an insulin-rich physiological condition that makes the body so adept at stashing away calories that the brain cannot get any, forcing it to trigger hunger cravings to meet its needs. This solution is transient because the body soon starts storing away the fresh supply of calories, which means that the next time the brain requires energy, it has to provoke hunger cravings, fueling a vicious race to the bottom – or, in this case, to a bigger bulge.

Based on these insights, Dr Ludwig has crafted a weight loss program that steers participants away from processed to healthier carbohydrates, such as beans, fruits and non starchy vegetables, for two weeks. Whole kernel grains, potatoes – not white – and a small amount of sugars are added at the end of the two-week period. This continues until body weight falls to a specified point. To learn more about Dr Chan’s weight loss study, visit, Carbohydrate Confusion.

As always, when embarking on a new diet plan, an individual must make an intrinsic personal decision taking into consideration their own health issues and lifestyle. It is also a good idea to consult a medical professional before making any drastic changes in diet or lifestyle.