The Best Diet & Fitness Regime for Health, Weight Loss
There's a nice conversation going on in the comments of my last post about the state of the nutrition and fitness communities. One comment exchange just summed it all up and struck me as a "Nail ... Head" moment. Before I highlight it, let's all think for a moment why we're in this in the first place. For me? I achieved significant but not complete weight loss and vastly improved health eating a pretty clean (no frankenfoods) VLC-based diet with planned cheats on those "normal" foods I enjoyed eating from time to time. When the weight plateaued out, I wanted mostly to assure myself that the way I was eating was going to be healthy for me in the long haul. And I've shared many of those concerns here before. Regardless of how I felt, there was always this nagging concern over the shift of the distribution of where I carried the fat that remained, as well as racing heart issues I had experienced a prior stint eating this way.
And so I started reading, and reading, and reading .... aaaaaand reading. I wanted to assure myself that my chosen diet/lifestyle was the healthiest for me, or at least the healthiest one I could follow with reasonable enjoyment of life. I've found a few answers. I'm still seeking others, and I hope to never stop doing that. I try to blog and share what I find in the hopes it helps some others as well. I get asked from time to time how I'm eating now, what diet I suggest, etc. I'm reticent to give out advice in that area, because what worked for me worked only to a point, and it may not work for you. For example, I don't believe in a biochemical/physiological food addiction so I think a planned "cheat" style approach is pretty much *the* answer to recovering from yo-yo dieting and making those lasting lifestyle changes necessary to succeed regardless of the "diet" one chooses. Some will say "oh I can never eat just one whatever" ... Maybe it's just my pipe dream to believe that we all can if we change our conscious thinking. With all the focus on autonomic hypotheses of obesity, the reality gets obscured. Whether it's carbs, or NAD's, or high-reward foods, or sweet, or salty, or chocolate, or whatever ... the bottom line is that eventually we have the power to control our CHOICE of foods to put in our mouths. If I'm ravenously hungry, I can still choose a real food over junk foods.
OK, back to the point. Here's the exchange:
bentleyj74: I get the impression that overeating is the single known universal equalizer. Bad no matter what you eat or how you eat it. A person could walk away from that information pretty confident that the right diet for them is the one that they eat a calorie deficit on rather than having what they eat become their identity.
Muata: Like Lerner I laughed too when I read this, but then I stopped because this is exactly what's wrong with the online "diet" community.
It's no longer about finding a "style of eating" that causes you to consume less (without starving yourself), yet provide your body with a variety of nutrients ... no, it's about whose latest and greatest diet (or research) is now THE way, THE truth, and THE light!
The problem with this myopic approach is that how we eat (and train) changes as we get older. Which means that we are going to have to consistently experiment and get to know our bodies and what works best on an individual basis.
Unfortunately, when, as bentleyj74 notes, a person places their "self-worth/identity" into following a particular diet plan, then there is no room for mistakes, and no room for growth.
Rock on Muata! Yes, yes, yes!!! Although the likes of Jimmy Moore and Co. constantly chant that we should "find what works for you", the message coming from that wing doesn't reflect that sentiment. When your dogma has devolved into thinking that a VLC diet is the only one acceptable for all diabetics, heck, everyone should be eating VLC, and implying not too subtly that the Jaminets are irresponsible for attaching the word "safe" to starches, you don't get to fall back on that out.
I have said for a while that what works best for weight loss may not be what is the best prescription for what keeps us from gaining weight in the first place. I've expanded my view on this too, that what worked once for weight loss, and even maintenance of those losses, may not be what is best for our health as we age and change. I think that last pill is a bitter one to swallow for someone who has "found a way". The minor changes I've implemented in the past year or so were difficult, and somewhat scary at first, and I came from a position where (a) before I even embarked on this effort in 2007 I had disabused myself of Atkins keto-magic myths, and (b) had only been doing this for 3-4 years. Still, my new habits -- that lifestyle change that is the elusive key to lasting weight loss -- were hard to reconsider. It is my personal belief, that in weight maintenance, extreme carbohydrate restriction is not optimal for overall health. The evidence, be it epidemiological, from the peer-review research, or even the verifiable anecdotes, just doesn't point in that direction ... not even close. To the extent that whatever I write here is to be construed as advice, that's where I stand.
Be it vegetarian, vegan, Ornish, Oz, Pritikin, Atkins, Zone, Optimal, some variation of VLC, paleo, primal, etc. etc., the problem, as Muata states, is the promotion of *ONE WAY* being the "best". Sorry Mark Sisson, but your quote to Jimmy a while back about it being "all about the buy in" is so very wrong. It's exactly the opposite of what we should strive for. Promote your plans as a way for individuals to achieve health and well being, but please, can you take down that ridiculous graphic from your blog that claims >150g/day carb will lead to insidious weight gain? C'mon!!
I focus less on exercise here at the Asylum, but the same occurs in that realm. Whether it be this nonsense of Taubes that exercise is useless for weight loss because it just makes you hungry, or this notion that 15 min/week of slow lifting can replace taking a walk every day, or that HIIT is "the" best exercise, etc.etc. It serves (a) to confuse, and (b) to keep people from just moving more at all. Everyone seems to agree that exercise of some sort is essential for health -- why are so many, then, discouraging people from exercising in a manner that suits them? Overtraining is real, but when I see folks exercising 3 hrs/week being told that they might be overtraining and cortisol is stalling their weight loss, I just wanna scream!
What is the *best* diet and fitness regime for you? WHATEVER WORKS! At this point I have pretty much no patience for what people tell me I shouldn't eat or do because it will do XYZ to me. Find what works for you to normalize your appetite so life doesn't revolve around food, and maximizes your energy levels and other feelings of well-being. You can be your own revolutionary rebel by just doing what works for you. Shout it from the rooftops when it does, but don't fall into the trap of advocating it as *the* answer for everyone else. I hope you'll use blogs such as this one as sources of information to help figure out your own individual methods.
Lastly, we change as we age. There's no getting around that. The best advice I can give is never, never, pigeon-hole yourself into advocacy of an inflexible lifestyle. I don't need to name names here of the various and several who have done just that. For a rare few, perhaps, as LynMarie Daye blogged, Maybe For Some People, Dieting Has To Be Like A Religion. For a rare few .... For the rest of us, it's a trap. Try not to fall into it.
Eat Less (however you do that), Move More (however you do that)
Live long and prosper. ~Spock