I often have patients come in to my office who have been on one diet after another since their early twenties. They are frustrated, overweight and tired; tired of white knuckling it and yet they basically gain weight just by passing a doughnut shop. After having them do a food diary, it is quite typical that they actually do eat less and yet weigh more than the average person their size and weight. They are quite often surprised by the amount of food I suggest when putting them on my Younger, Thinner You! diet plan. They actually end up eating more and yet weighing less!
Americans are overweight yet undernourished
How is that possible you ask? Is this not a contradiction to everything we have been told about weight-loss: eat less and exercise more? Indeed it is. However, does it not make sense that a different approach is needed, considering that diets based on starvation have shown time and time again to fail? Americans are overweight yet undernourished! With one new diet after another based on quasi pseudo science, they all have one thin in common: you starve yourself. This is the very reason why they fail! It all comes down to the most primitive part of our brain: the limbic brain. This is the part of your brain that evolved first, and it is like a reptile’s brain. It governs your survival behaviors: the fight-or-flight response, our feeding behavior and our reproductive behavior. Calorie restriction makes your brain think that you are starving to death and sets off chemical processes inside you that force you to eat more.
Your Reptile Brain
Our culture praises starvation and excessive weight-loss. We have been brain washed into thinking that we must restrict calories and starve ourselves in order to achieve a sleek physique.
You may have fallen into this trap yourself. If you have tried dieting and restricted your eating below the number of calories you need to make your body function properly, you have set off the same catastrophic molecular cascade inside yourself. As a consequence you receive hunger signals that are too strong to override. You rebound and gain back the weight you have lost. In most cases, you gain back more than you initially lost. Welcome aboard the rollercoaster diet ride!
Why Diets Make You Fat
We all know people who say: “I never eat anything, and yet I cannot lose weight!”. They are not lying. They are suffering from the starvation syndrome: years of yo-yo dieting. Each time that you go on a crash diet you lose muscle and fat. However, when the diet fails – which it always does – and you rebound, you only gain back the fat. This is a catastrophe because muscle cells burn seventy times more calories than fat cells. Hello! You are starving yourself fat.
The fact that a calorie is not a calorie is supported by the research by leading nutrition researchers, including Dr. Walter Willet. They compared the effect of a low-fat and a low-carbohydrate diet with regard to weight-loss. The researchers discovered that the low-carb group eating the same amount of calories as the low-fat group actually lost more weight! The interesting thing here is what type of food they were eating: the low-fat group was mainly eating processed, refined foods whereas the low-carb group was eating whole foods. The lesson here is that a calorie is NOT simply a calorie. Nutrition is information that speaks to our genes and sets off messages that either burn fat or store fat.
And Aging Makes You Even Fatter
As we age we have a reduced metabolic capacity. Remember eating that whole pint of Haagen Dazs when you were a teenager and yet not gaining a pound? And now you complain that you live off a salad leaf and still cannot lose any weight. Reversing the signs of aging and charging up your metabolism is possible through an intense nutritional approach and with the help of bioidentical hormones. Our production of metabolic hormones greatly decrease with age. Restoring your hormones are key to getting a slim waistline and one of the greatest anti-aging tools we have.
Food Contains Hidden Information
Forget counting calories, it just does not work. And no, I am not talking about willpower.
The science of nutrigenomics has revolutionized our understanding of food and calories. The kind of food you eat gives your genes different information. You can either learn the language of your genes or suffer the consequences of serious miscommunication: weight gain, fatigue, and disease. In my book Younger, Thinner You! I teach you the language of your genes, so you are able to understand your body and control the messages and instructions that they give your body.
The Keys to Your Skinny Youth are Yours…
Drink it: Tea
I cannot say this enough: drink it in every color and every flavor. It is nutrient dense and contains zero calories. Green, black and white tea; each is loaded with flavanoids that help to prevent cancer, diabetes and just about every lifestyle disease. Now a new study appearing in Obesity shows that the catechins in tea promote weight loss and positively affect body shape, according to lead researcher Dr. Niels Boon. Green tea inhibits the breakdown of fat molecules in the digestive tract that enable these fats to be absorbed from the intestine.
Eat it: Fiber
In the aging body carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood stream and readily transformed into triglycerides, which is the primary form that fat is stored in the adipocytes. With age we gradually develop a resistance to the ability of insulin to transport glucose into the body’s energy-producing cells. This chronic bloodstream-overload of sugars and fats is called postprandial disorders. In order to burn fat we need to reduce the postprandial blood levels of both sugar and fat. One way to impede carbohydrate absorption is by adding fiber to your diet. We have developed a specific product for this very reason: Slim Fiber. It contains key ingredients that help to control blood sugar levels and block fat and carbohydrate absorption.
Do it: Sex
Sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone have a huge impact on how well your metabolism functions and keeping you young and fun. Maintaining an active sex life is key to longevity. Sex increases growth hormone which is related to burning fat.
Women with estradiol levels below 90 pg/mL of blood are predisposed to abdominal fat accumulation and should be prescribed a compounded bioidentical estriol/estradiol cream. Men with free testosterone levels below optimal ranges of 20-25 pg/mL of blood should be prescribed a compounded testosterone cream. Low testosterone predisposes men to abdominal obesity.
This is only a small piece in the weight-loss puzzle. Read more about the basic language of nutrition and how to shed weight along with which nutritional strategies that will activate your fat burning genes in my book Younger, Thinner You!
Prepared by Dr. Eric Braverman and Medical Nutritionist & Lifestyle Coach Christina Santini
1. Yancy, W.S. Jr., Olsen, M.K., Guyton, J.R., Bakst, R.P., & Westman, E.C. (2004). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 140, 769-777
2. Stern, L., Iqbal, N., Seshadri, P., Chicano, K.L., Daily, D.A., McGrory, J., Williams, M., Gracely, E.J., & Samaha, F.F. (2004). The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 140, 778-785
3. Meckling, K.A., O’Sullivan, C., & Saari, D. (2004). Comparison of a low-fat diet to a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, body composition, and risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in free-living, overweight men and women. Journal of Clinical of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 89, 2717-2723
4. Brehm BJ, Spang SE, Lattin BL, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. (2004). The role of energy expenditure in the differential weight loss in obese women on low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
5. Lichtman SW, Pisarska K, Berman ER, Pestone M, Dowling H, Offenbacher E, Weisel H, Heshka S, Matthews DE, Heymsfield SB. (1992). Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. New England Journal of Medicine, 327, 1893-1898
6. Forbes GB. (1993). Diet and exercise in obese subjects: self-report versus controlled measurements. Nutrition Reviews, 51, 296-300
7. Boon N. (2009). Effects of Catechin Enriched Green Tea on Body Composition. Obesity
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.