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Finding the Right Weight Loss Diet

Picking a weight management plan can be a confusing problem for an overweight person. This month’s best selling diet book says, “Eat high-protein and fat and low-carbohydrate”. But last month’s said, “Eat high-carbohydrate, low-fat”. So what do you do??  Throw some dice and hope for the best? Keep looking for more diet and nutrition information?

You can find books telling you to plan your diet based on your blood type, your body type (whatever that is!), your astrological sign or, probably, the color of your hair or eyes.

If any of them really worked, there wouldn’t be so many on the scene. Think about that old childhood riddle, “Why do you always find a lost item in the last place you look for it”? Answer: “Because you stop looking for it after you find it


So, let me see if I can simplify the “choose a diet” dilemma for you. Consider the following points.

 POINT ONE: Calories count! Research clearly shows that any diet that produces weight loss does so by creating a reduction of caloric intake (I’m only addressing diet here, not exercise). 

An Atkins-type approach (low carbohydrate) works largely because it produces a state called ketosis, which, in turn, decreases appetite. A Pritikin-type approach (high-carbohydrate/low-fat) works because you can fill-up on foods that have no calories. So, here are two diets, opposite in design, which both work to the extent that they lead to calorie reduction.

But I’ve seen lots of patients that have failed on one and succeeded on the other. You have to use an approach that works by helping you eat fewer calories.

 POINT TWO: You have to know what you’re eating now. This is your starting point. Keep a diet diary. Analyze your dietary intake. How many calories do you eat? How much fat? How much carbohydrate…especially starches (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice etc.) and sugary foods?

Do you eat regular meals? Eat late? Snack often? Are you an emotional eater…how much and what do you eat when you are bored, angry, depressed, frustrated or anxious? Do you eat more under stress?

Find out where your eating habits are right now. Then understand the following simple message. In fact, say it over and over until it is imbedded permanently in your brain.

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, 
you’ll keep getting the same results you’ve been getting.

 POINT THREE: You live in the real world. I’m going to assume that you don’t have a live-in chef, full time trainer, limo driver and personal assistant to attend to all those pesky day-to-day details!

So, any diet you use needs to fit your personality and lifestyle. Otherwise, it's doomed to failure!


In order to find what type of diet is best for you, get some paper, a pencil or pen and take this simple test. Then we’ll talk about the results.

1. What diets have you gone on before?

a. Low fat
b. Low carbohydrate (e.g. Protein Power, Zone, Atkins)
c. High carbohydrate (e.g. Pritikin)
d. Calorie counting, Point-system (Exchange diet e.g. Weight Watchers)
e. Other_____________________________________________

2. Which one(s) worked best?

3. Which ones were the hardest to stick on?

4. What usually goes wrong with your diet plans?

a. I get tired of it
b. Some life event messes me up (marriage, illness, divorce, etc.)
c. Couldn’t stick to it
d. Other____________________________________________

5. What are the most important criteria you have for a diet? (Circle two)

a. Includes foods I like (so much, I can’t do without them)
b. Get to eat a lot
c. Tells me exactly what to do
d. Gives me a lot of choice
e. Causes rapid weight-loss
f. Causes permanent weight-loss
g. Prevents hunger
h. Includes snacks

Your answers to these questions should help you choose the best type of weight-loss diet to follow. Your answers should give you clues as to which type of diet is most likely to work for you. Look particularly at your answers to question #5 (but pay attention to your answers to question 1-4) and use the following guide to select a type of diet that incorporates your answers to question #5.


1. “Foods I like”

a. Balanced, calorie-counting diet
b. Specific diet that allows those foods (e.g. high protein and fat diet, if you can’t live without cheese)

2. “You get to eat a lot”

a. The Free diet
b. High-carbohydrate/low-fat 

3.    “Tells me exactly what I can and can’t eat” 

a. Balanced calorie counter
b. Low carbohydrate (Zone, Protein Power)
c. Rotation diet

4.    “Gives me a lot of choice”

a. Calorie counter
b. Free diet

5.    “Causes rapid weight-loss”

a. Low carbohydrate
b. Rotation diet

6.   “Causes permanent weight-loss” 

a. Calorie counter
b. Any of the others that you can live with for your entire life.

7.   “Prevents hunger”

a. Low carbohydrate
b. High-(complex)carbohydrate/low-fat (low-glycemic index)

8.    “Includes snacks”

a. Any of them can

Whatever diet you decide to follow, it is important that you keep a diary. Here is another simple rule:
 Plan your work; then, work your plan!  

 So, if you’re making progress, feeling satisfied and happy with your program, great! Congratulations!

 But, if you are stalled or frustrated, keep a diary for a few weeks. Then review it and decide:
 Is the problem (a) that the plan isn’t working, or (b) that you’re not sticking to your plan?  

 The problem will always be one of these two. If it is a problem with your plan…choose a different type of plan. If the problem is that you aren’t sticking with the plan, rededicate yourself and stick with it for several weeks. Then, see if it works!

 So, with that in mind, here is our final rule:

If what you’re doing doesn’t work, do something else.

There are two worlds: The world that should be and the world that really is. Frustration and discouragement come from living in the world that “should be”, (e.g. “I should be loosing weight since I’m following this diet plan and doing this exercise”). As long as you stay in the “should”…nothing new is going to happen. So, getting stuck is your signal to try something new. 

Your answers to the above test should give you a clue as to just what that next step is. Sometimes your progress will temporarily slow down or come to a halt for a few weeks while your body adjusts and adapts to your new weight and lifestyle. Often this temporary plateau appears and disappears within a few weeks with no obvious explanation. If a plateau lasts longer than 6-8 weeks, it is time to find a strategy to deal with it. That information is available else where on our Activator CD.

 But for now, choose a plan, get started, and evaluate your progress. 

Congratulations! You’re on your way to a new and healthier new you!



1. How many calories should I eat?

Answer: There is no easy answer to this question. The diet you follow must take into account your temperament, your “willpower”, your individual metabolism and many other factors. 

That being said, there are several general guidelines, which should help you determine an appropriate calorie level to follow.

According to “the books” (and “the books” aren’t always right), it takes about 10-12 calories per day to maintain each pound of body weight. Therefore, multiply your body weight by 12 to determine the number of calories it would take you to maintain you present weight. We’ll call this number your “DCN” (daily caloric need).

A pound of fat has 3500 calories of stored energy. Therefore, to lose 1 pound of fat, you must create a 500-calorie deficit each day. In other words, if you subtract 500 from your DCN, you would get a number of calories, which should result in a weight loss of 1 pound per week (500 cal/day x7 days=3500). Most people can tolerate this level of calorie reduction without feeling overly deprived.

Authorities agree that it is best to lose weight at a slow rate…1/2 to 2 pounds per week. Therefore, subtracting 1000 from your DCN would provide the number of calories you should follow to lose at the maximum safe rate. This might cause you to feel a little more deprivation and call for a little more on your willpower.

For those daring individuals who want to lose as rapidly as possible, here is a sensible suggestion. Women should aim for a calorie intake of about 1000-1200 calories a day and men for a calorie intake of 1400-1500 calories per day. Going below these levels will probably just slow your metabolic rate down and end up being counterproductive. Anyone who goes on a diet of less than 1000 calories per day, in my opinion, should do so only under the close supervision of a physician knowledgeable in the use of such “starvation” diets. Diets below 1000 calories create a risk of severe metabolic damage and severe chemical abnormalities in the body, including some that could be fatal.

Another very simple concept that works for many people is to simply add a zero to the end of their desired weight, and consume that number of calories. For example if you wanted to weigh 130 pounds, your caloric intake should be set at about 1300 calories per day.

2. What if I decide I want to follow a low-fat diet?

 Answer: Fat contains over twice as many calories as a similar amount of protein or carbohydrate. Therefore, one of the simplest ways to decrease calories is to lower the total amount of fat in your diet.
My recommendation is that you obtain less than 1/3 of your total calories from fat. There are two ways to approach such a diet.

First, you can divide your DCN by 3. This gives you the maximum number of fat calories you should have per day. Then using a fat calorie guide or nutrition label, limit your total fat calories to this amount or less.

Since fat has 9 calories per gram, if the fat content of a food is listed in grams, you multiply that number of grams by 9 to get the number of calories from fat.

A second way is both simpler and , usually, more effective. Using this method, you eat food only if less than 1/3 of its calories come from fat. Thus, you divide the total calories of the food by 3. You then determine the number of fat calories (fat grams x9). If the fat calories are less than 1/3 the total calories, it is a “safe” food to eat.

Pitfall: Foods that are high in sugar or starch content may be low in fat but cause a metabolic slow-down due to their effect on blood sugar and insulin. A diet high in such foods may present weight loss, cause weight gain and/or increase appetite. (See Question 3)

3. What if I decide a low carbohydrate diet is best for me?

Answer: The simplest way to follow a low-carbohydrate diet is to eat only foods that have a low “glycemic index”.

 Glycemic index is a number assigned to a food based on the way it causes an increase in your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin turns fat cells off…stops them from burning fat…and signals them to increase the storage of fat. Therefore, eating foods that have only a small effect on insulin and glucose will put your body in a state where it can burn fat more easily and help facilitate your weight loss. Many people also notice this type diet greatly lessens their appetite.

 A list of the glycemic index of various foods is included at the end of this discussion. One of the simplest ways to follow a low-carbohydrate diet would be to eat foods that have a glycemic index of 50 or less and exclude the others. If this is working well and you want to liberalize the diet, you can add foods that have a glycemic index of up to 60 and monitor your results.

 If you must break this type diet, and decide to have a high glycemic index food (for example a dessert), try to eat it at the same time as other low glycemic index foods. For example, a piece of pie would do less damage if eaten after a meal containing lean protein and vegetables than it would if eaten as a snack.

 Pitfall: Fat has a low-glycemic index but provides an extremely high amount of calories. Following a diet that is high in fat can be effective…but this type diet should be undertaken only under the supervision of a physician knowledgeable in the use of such diets. Eat less than 1/3 of your calories in the form of fat (See Question 2).

4. What if I want to follow a diet that is well balanced and more generalized in nature?

Answer: Simply calculate your DCN (see question 1) and determine an appropriate calorie level to follow as described above. The majority of foods in this diet should be relativity low-fat and relativity low in refined-carbohydrates (starch and sugars).

 In my opinion, the typical USDA food pyramid allows too many starches and whole-grains and 1/3 to 1/2 of the servings of these foods should be replaced with fruits and vegetables.

 Nonetheless, the simple rule to follow for a balanced diet is to create a calorie deficit and then eat a wide variety of foods centered primarily on proteins, fruits and vegetables. Several “calorie counting diets” are included as well as one we use in our clinic, which we refer to as “The Metabolic Diet”. 

Which Diet Is Right For You?

The media and sometimes your friends are just full of revolutionary new diets to help you lose weight painlessly.  (Yeah, right!)  Everywhere you look - there are diets.  Everyone is talking about the “best diet” and how much weight they have lost on their diet.  You have undoubtedly heard about all ofl these diets, but which one should you choose?  Remember that you can lose weight on just about any diet, but staying on one is the real secret.  So let’s go through a little checklist here and see what factors you should consider when choosing a diet plan.

Here is a handy checklist to help guide you in selecting a diet program.   If the diet can’t stand up to this test, forget it.  The only results you are likely to see are a waste of time and money and the possible harm to your health.













Nothing will ever taste as good as being slim feels!

Some Very Important things to remember! 

1. The best diet is seldom one that makes you lose pounds quickly.  The optimum or best weight loss for females is 1-2 pounds a week and 2-3 pounds for men.  Diets which have you losing weight more quickly will not help you make a permanent change in your eating patterns and, moreover, can (and usually will) cause loss of muscle and vital organ tissue.  Definitely not a good thing.

2. Skipping meals is not the best way to reduce your caloric intake!  In reality, skipping meals normally causes binge eating later.  The best way is to graze.  Have several small portions of food throughout the day and keep yourself from getting hungry.  May we also suggest keeping busy with things you like to do that don’t normally center around food.

3. Don’t eliminate food or food groups.  Diets that tell you to avoid certain foods are doomed to failure.  Especially if one of the foods you're supposed to avoid is one of your favorites!  You simply cannot substitute one food for another, especially if you are experiencing a craving.  So, don’t be silly, indulge in a very small portion of the food you are craving and keep in mind your total caloric intake for the day.  Remember, you can never eat enough of something you don’t want, in order to feel satisfied.

4. High protein diets can work wonderfully well.  You can experience a fast weight loss and control hunger while you are on it.  But remember that most people experience a fast weight gain after getting off a high protein diet.  So be careful of that.  High protein diets (like all diets) work, but you have to get off it sometime and get back to real eating again.

5. Do the enzymes in grapefruit juice really help burn fat?   NO!

6. Remember it’s an old wive's tale that moderate exercise or increased activity also increases appetite.  Actually, the opposite is true.  What exercise does do is:

1. Increase your calorie burn and help you lose weight.
2. Relieve stress and let you sleep better.
3. Increase muscle tone so that your body is a more efficient fat burning machine.

7. Are all fruit or fruit juice diets a great way to lose weight?   Not really!   Fruit juices are high in sugar and contain calories.  Think about that.

8. Is being overweight hereditary?   Not really.   Yes, you can have some specific inherited traits such as larger thighs or large breasts which are inherited.  But how big they are is up to you.  Even huge parents have skinny children and vice-versa.  So don’t let that throw you a curve.  You can almost any weight you want to be, if you’ll just pay attention to what you are eating.

9. Does eating slowly help lose weight?   Yes, because it takes several minutes for the body to feel full and signal the brain to stop eating.  The slower you eat, the better in that regard.

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