If you have ever gone on a low-calorie diet and been dismayed to find the numbers going up instead of down you are not alone. As long as weight loss diets have been in existence there are those individuals who seem to never be able to lose weight on a low calorie diet while others simply make a few dietary changes and watch the pounds disappear.
According to new research reported in the April 6, 2010 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, online, restricting calories increases the stress hormone cortisol responsible for added abdominal fat. The increase in cortisol actually increases your risk of adding pounds even when on a low calorie diet.
Simply mentioning the word diet is enough to stress most individuals. Following a low calorie actually stimulated the production of more cortisol and decreases the likelihood of losing weight or maintaining any weight lost. The lower the calorie restrictions the greater the chance that you will re-gain all the weight lost and more once calories are increased to a sustainable level.
More and more health professionals are rethinking the low-calorie diet option. Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-author of You On a Diet and Dr. Dean Ornish known for his book Eat More, Weigh Less are just two who have made a public commitment to sharing the need for a balanced approach to lifestyle changes to achieve optimal health and fitness regardless of your present level of wellness. Both these doctors promote a low-fat food plan that leans heavily on fresh fruits, vegetables and plant based protein as much as possible. They don’t stop there but also insist that a healthy lifestyle must include a minimum of thirty minutes a day exercising and a plan for managing stress.
Walking is the usual choice of exercise as it is easily accomplished by anyone. If you are just starting an exercise plan, walking can be done in short ten minute sessions still providing a healthy benefit. Gradually increase your steps by minutes a day and you will soon be able to walk for longer times and distances.
While both doctors lean heavily towards encouraging a vegetarian diet, they also understand that not everyone is ready or able to give up all meat and dairy products. Options include no-fat dairy products and choosing lean meat sources such as chicken or fish over fatty cuts of meat. Portion control is also a key to limiting fat intake from meats.
Dr. Dean Ornish does have an extreme food plan for reversing heart disease based on a vegetarian diet and severely restricting food choices for individuals with serious heart disease. His plan has been studies and proven to be effective but should not be undertaken without consulting your own doctor. You can read about it in his book, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
Dr. Ornish’s research in reversing heart disease through comprehensive lifestyle changes that include diet, exercise and stress management have been published in Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Cardiology.
If you have been cutting back calories in an effort to lose weight and are frustrated to find yourself gaining weight instead, consider the idea that you really may need to eat more to lose more. Of course that does not mean unlimited supplies of McBurgers or heaping bowls of Ben & Jerry favorites, but explore the options to eat more healthy low-fat foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. You body really needs good fuel to work efficiently and that includes finally dropping the excess weight and moving ahead into a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain.
A. Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, University of California, San Francisco; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, Fairfield, Conn; April 6, 2010, Psychosomatic Medicine, online
Dean Ornish, MD. Preventive Medicine Research Institute, online
Michael F. Rozen, MD, Mehet C. Oz, MD. You on a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management. Free Press, 2009.