If you have come to this page then you have probably lost weight many times before and then regained it. You tried all sorts of diets. You have taken the advice and exercised madly and eaten the tiniest portions of the leanest chicken you can find. Yes, it did work, but not for long – talk about not being sustainable!
Well, there is good news. You can lose weight and you can keep it off with very little effort. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym and eat like a field-mouse. You can eat so that you are never hungry and still lose weight.
You did what most doctors do – you tried to fix a problem by tackling its symptoms. Being fat is mostly a symptom of a diet related hormonal imbalance.
If you try to “fix the weight problem” and do not fix the underlying hormonal problem then any weight-loss will only be short-term.
Does that sound familiar?
Lets start with some basics:
- By “losing weight” we mean that we want to reduce our body fat.
- Body fat is our “larder for a rainy day”. It provides energy for bodily functions when energy intake is low.
- Your body stores fat when the hormone insulin is high – Insulin is the “fat storage” hormone.
- Your body can only consume its own stored fat when insulin is low.
- To lose weight, we must reduce the level of the insulin hormone so that the body leaves “fat storage mode” and enters “fat consumption” mode.
- Satiety (or lack of hunger) is driven largely by protein consumption. Animals generally eat to reach a protein target.
- Carbohydrate, when combined with fat in the diet destroys the body’s ability to feel satiety – you will feel hungry no matter how much of the high-energy carb/fat cocktail you consume.
- Protein and fat are nutrients that the body needs in order to grow and maintain health.
- Fat and/or carbohydrate can provide the necessary energy for bodily functions.
- Carbohydrate is the only macronutrient that the body does not need.
Most of us have chronically high insulin levels because we have become insulin resistant. This is a condition where the body needs significantly higher than normal levels of insulin in order to force glucose out of the blood and into storage. Because of this condition, it becomes difficult to switch to “fat consumption mode” and you become overweight.
Insulin is particularly sensitive to the amount of carbohydrate in the diet. You have a level of control over insulin by controlling the amount of carbohydrate that you eat. If you consistently and persistently reduce carbohydrate intake to a low enough level, then your insulin hormone levels will start to come down and you will begin to lose weight.
For many people, just eliminating most carbohydrates may be sufficient for them to lose weight, as this diet removes the triggers that also cause constant eating. By strictly controlling carbohydrate, you stabilise blood sugars and stop feeling the intense hunger that you often get a few hours after a high carbohydrate meal.
Hunger control is greatly improved by eliminating carbohydrates from the diet because:
- You are not eating a fat/carb cocktail that destroys the satiety signal.
- You will have a higher concentration of protein in your diet which drived the satiety signal.
The carbohydrates that you want to eliminate from your diet to lose weight are those that are either sweet or starchy: grain based foods such as pasta and bread, potatoes, rice, cakes, biscuits, fruit, fruit juices, desserts etc. You should base your diet on “meat and veg” with emphasis on the meat.
You also need to remove all sources of “vegetable oil” from your diet as these also directly promote fat storage. Stick to coconut oil, palm oil, animal fats and limited amounts of olive oil.
Some more points:
- Many sources will tell you that you don’t need to count calories on a low-carb diet. That is only partially true. Total calories still matter, but many people find that they naturally reduce calorie intake on a low-carb diet and don’t need to keep track of how much they eat.
- The low-carb diet is generally moderate in protein, relatively high in fat and, ideally, very low in carbohydrates.
To lose weight, all you have to do is to reduce your fat intake (as food) during the weight-loss period so that your body feeds on its own body fat. At this stage you will be eating a lot of protein-rich foods. Once you reach your normal weight, you can start eating more fat again to meet the body’s energy needs. If you add back carbohydrates instead, then you switch back to “fat storage mode” and you regain weight.
Sounds simple, and it is, however, there are a few additional elements to consider.
You will need to have transitioned your body away from using carbohydrates as fuel to instead burning fat. If you are significantly overweight and/or have progressed a long way down the path to Type-2 diabetes, then getting your insulin levels down far enough so that you can start to burn fat may be difficult using diet alone. The answer to this problem is in fasting – please see our Fasting page.
Either through changing to a low-carb diet alone, or in combination with fasting, we recommend that you transition to a fat metabolism before you worry about losing weight. This is because everything becomes a lot easier when you are no longer fuelled by carbohydrates. A lot easier by a huge measure. You will find the following:
- You will no longer be hungry all the time.
- You will no longer need three meals a day and snacks.
- Your cravings will subside.
- Your mind will be clearer and your outlook will be more positive.
Being “fat adapted” is the best possible starting point for losing weight. Take a week or two or three to get to this point before you think about your weight too much. Then lower your fat intake to start your weight loss journey – you should now find that it is so much easier to lose weight.
Do it slowly – take your time to lose weight. You will probably find that it comes off without you even thinking about it.
Ensure that you are consuming enough salt. Lack of sufficient salt can stall weight-loss. Insulin causes the body to retain salt. Thus, a low-carb, low-insulin diet means that you will excrete more salt than if you are on a high-carb diet. Additionally, as the level of sodium (from salt) in the blood goes down, the body will actually raise insulin levels to prevent any more being excreted.
A chronic, low-salt diet will cause insulin resistance – exactly what you are trying to overcome to lose weight.
Additionally, lack of salt in the diet can lead to cravings that can lead to over-eating – and over-eating all of the wrong things. It is important to add enough salt to all of your meals as you are no longer getting salt from processed foods. Do not worry about too much salt unless you have kidney failure. The body can safely excrete over 100g of sodium per day (or 220 grams of salt).
Here is an important point worth repeating. What will make you regain the weight again? Yes, eating in a way that elevates your insulin levels, as that will switch the body back into “fat storage mode”. If you find that you are consistently putting on weight again then you know what to do – just eat fewer carbohydrates.