Are you tired of hearing the same-old, same-old diet rules? So am I. And guess what? Some of those tired old rules are just that — tired.
It’s time to get some NEW rules in place. So I’ve scoured the literature, and spoken to diet experts, to find out what rules we should throw out. And what you should replace them with.
Take a look …
Old rule: Forgo all fat.
New and improved: Focus on the right kind.
When Americans try to lose weight, 73% of them actively avoid fats in their diet, according to a recent Gallup poll.1
Why? Because fat is not the enemy. While you should be avoiding certain fats — trans fats from processed foods, for example — other fats aren’t as worrisome as we once thought.
If you reach instead for the monounsaturated fats — the type of fats found in olive oil, nuts and seeds — you can actually help raise your HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and help lower your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
And while you should be cutting down on saturated fats that come from butter, cheese, meat and other animal-based foods, you don’t have to slash it all for the sake of your heart. (If you want to read more about that, go here for my blog post on saturated fat.)
Make your meat choices grass-fed beef and poultry, which have a healthier nutrition profile. Try coconut oil as a cholesterol-free alternative to sautéed veggies or roasted sweet potatoes. And reach for dark chocolate to satisfy a sweet tooth.
When it comes to losing weight, foods high in fat that also contain protein and fiber can keep hunger at bay for hours.
So you’ll eat less overall. That’s pretty friendly fire if you ask me.
Old rule: Count calories.
New and improved: Count protein.
Weighing your food, tracking every morsel that goes into your mouth … it’s exhausting, and can easily backfire. Who wants to be hungry all the time?
A better way …. Instead of cutting calories, beef up the protein. Our Fat Loss Fast Start Program recommends consuming at least 10 grams of protein for every 25 pounds of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 60 grams of protein per day.
Getting enough protein helps maintain a steady blood sugar level after you eat, preventing any spikes and crashes that can lead to binge eating. So you’ll naturally want to eat less. And lose big.
For animal sources of protein, choose free-range and hormone-free options. Fish should be wild-caught to decrease the risk of consuming toxins. Beans and legumes are inexpensive protein sources that are also high in hunger-curbing fiber.
Old rule: Cut all the crap from your diet.
New and improved: Have a cheat meal once a week.
When researchers at the University of Toronto deprived women of chocolate for a week, they found that the restrained eaters experienced more intense, chronic chocolate cravings and ate approximately double the amount of the good stuff when it finally was allowed. Who can blame them?
The moral of the story?
When you limit yourself day after day, you end up feeling deprived. Even if you do manage to take off weight, the minute you’re “off” your diet, you’ll end up scarfing down everything in sight.
And all that hard work goes down the tubes.
Instead, enjoy yourself every once in awhile. Whenever you have a craving for something that’s not on your healthy-eating program, write it down. Then, once a week, enjoy whatever you want on the list. Go nuts. And make sure you include dessert.
Don’t feel even the least bit guilty. Knowing that you have a little indulgence after a week of serious dieting will help you keep your resolve high over the long haul.
Just as we need to clean out our closet once every couple of months, we need to overhaul our diet thinking as well.
What do you think of the new rules?
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
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Reference:1. Americans still avoid fat more than carbs. Gallup Web site. http://www.gallup.com/poll/174176/americans-avoid-fat-carbs.aspx. Published July 29, 2014.
2. Polivy J, Coleman J, Herman CP. The effect of deprivation on food cravings and eating behavior in restrained and unrestrained eaters. Int J Eat Disord. 2005;38(4):301-309. PMID: 16261600.