.. without ever being hungry or need to exercise or surgery!
Surely, if there was some safe, simple, side-effect-free solution to the obesity epidemic, we would know about it by now, right? I’m not so sure.
It may take up to 17 years before research findings make it into day-to-day clinical practice. To take one example: heart disease. Decades ago, Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues published evidence in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world that our leading cause of death could be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes alone—yet, hardly anything changed.
So, what does the science show is the best way to lose weight?
Isn’t weight loss just about eating less and moving more? I mean, isn’t a calorie a calorie? That’s what the food industry wants you to think. The notion that a calorie from one source is just as fattening any other is a trope broadcast by the food industry as a way to absolve itself of culpability. Coca-Cola itself even put an ad out there emphasizing this “one simple common-sense fact.” As the current and past chairs of Harvard’s nutrition department put it, this “central argument” from industry is that the “overconsumption of calories from carrots would be no different from overconsumption of calories from soda….” If a calorie is just a calorie, why does it matter what we put in our mouths?
Let’s explore that example of carrots versus Coca-Cola. It’s true that in a tightly controlled laboratory setting, 240 calories of carrots (10 carrots) would have the same effect on calorie balance as the 240 calories in a bottle of Coke, but this comparison falls flat on its face out in the real world. You could chug those liquid candy calories in less than a minute, but eating 240 calories of carrots would take you more than two-and-a-half hours of sustained constant chewing. Not only would your jaw get sore, but 240 calories of carrots is like five cups—you might not even be able to fit them all in.
A landmark study found that, even when presented with the same number of calories, and the same salt, sugar, fat, fiber and protein, processed foods led to weight gain, two pounds gained over two weeks; and unprocessed foods led to weight loss, two pounds down in the same two weeks. Here’s one of their processed food meals which is probably healthier, actually, than what most people eat. Non-fat Greek yogurt, baked potato chips, sugar-free diet lemonade with a turkey sandwich, has the same number of calories as this what the unprocessed-meal-food folks were eating, kind of a southwest entrée salad with black beans, avocados, nuts, that’s the calorie density effect. Same calories but there’s just more food, no wonder it satisfied their hunger. And they ended up four pounds lighter in two weeks eating more food. So, how can you decrease the calorie density of your diet? Well, just a quick peek at the two extremes should suggest two methods: abandon added fats and add abandoned vegetables.
There are, however, two important exceptions. Processed foods with “reduced-fat claims” are often so packed with sugar that they can have the same number of calories as a higher fat product. The other exception is to the low-fat rule is that vegetables are so calorically dilute that even a high-fat veggie dish, like some oily broccoli with garlic sauce, tends to be less calorie dense overall, which brings us to the second strategy for lowering calorie density: instead of sneaking out fat, sneak in vegetables.
The biggest influence on calorie density is not fat, but water content. Since water adds weight and bulk without adding calories, the most calorie-dense foods and the most calorie-dense diets tend to be those that are dry. Some vegetables, on the other hand, are more than 95 percent water, and not just iceberg lettuce. Cucumbers, celery, turnips, cooked napa cabbage, bok choy, summer squash, zucchini, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots can top out at 95 percent water. They’re basically just water in vegetable form. A big bowl of water-rich vegetables is practically just a big bowl of trapped water.
Traditional weight-loss diets focus on decreasing portion size, but we know these “eat less” approaches can leave people feeling hungry and unsatisfied. A more effective approach may be to shift the emphasis from restriction to positive “eat more” messaging of increasing intake of healthy, low-calorie-density foods, but you don’t know, until you try.
Please share the benefits of a plant-based diet for human health and the health of the planet with your friends and family. I hope you enjoyed reading this weeks blog post and found it helpful.
As a Health Coach, I am mentoring my clients to create and maintain long-term lifestyle changes to enhance their overall quality of life. In addition to supporting clients with specific goals, I empower my clients to choose health-promoting behaviors that work for them. I raise awareness and offer support as clients move in their own bio-individual ways toward the greater health they want for themselves. My coaching hopefully leads to long-term behavior change, but only because I help my clients do the meaningful work that forms a strong foundation.
How can I help you? Are there any changes you wish for yourself? Is your health the best it could be? You can book your free consultation with me now: