In the UK, 64% of adults are classed as being overweight or obese, and in the US that figure stands at an eye watering 70%.
With the average American making 4 weight loss attempts per year, and its diet industry valued at over $60billion, clearly something isn’t working.
So where does it go wrong and why don’t diets work?
The obvious starting points are:
- We live much more sedentary lives than we ever have done before
- We have easy immediate access to cheap high calorie foods
- We have added food groups that we are not designed to eat. Eg. Grains, and dairy
- We are addicted to sugar
The result of all of the above is an epidemic in Type II diabetes, cancers, and heart disease.
Interestingly statistically the best indicator of future weight gain is if you have tried to diet.
So what is so wrong with the diets that we are encouraged to follow?
Well first of all, for a short period of time, most diets do work. The problem is sticking with them, especially when you are then battling against your body, which starts to panic because it thinks it is starving, and produces lots of hormones (such as Cortisol, Leptin and Ghrelin) to try and make you quit.
The other issue is that over time calorie restrictive diets burn muscle which in turn lowers your metabolism, so the weight loss slows down until it eventually grinds to a halt, at which point you give up, eat normally and pile the pounds back on again. Before going on to chose a different diet to fail at.
Finally, I think that diets involve far too much effort. Either its weighing food, counting calories or making complicated fussy meals, which over time become boring and onerous, and the diet breaks.
So the perfect diets must be:
- Simple to follow
- Not counting of calories
- No fussy meals or lots of preparation
- Sustainable in the long term
- Be effective at burning fat
- Not burn muscle mass lowering metabolism
And the answer, of course is…Intermittent fasting.
Not the low calorie day’s version such as 5:2, but as close to no calories as possible (lets say 50 max).
To gain the most benefit, each fast should be 24 hours long (1 to 3 times a week) and you should eat every day (ideally dinner).
On non-fasting days you should eat a healthy balanced diet (though cutting some starchy carbs, diary and alcohol will make you feel a whole heap better), and you should eat as much as your body tells you to.
By fasting as well as weight loss you also gain huge health benefits including:
- Reduced blood sugar and Increased insulin sensitivity (diabetes)
- Reduced blood pressure and LDL (bad) Cholesterol. (Heart disease)
- Reduced growth hormone IGF-1 (cancers)
- Increased brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) – Mental illness and decline
- Improved mood and self esteem
- Causes autophagy (repair genes activated and increased longevity)
- Reduced system inflammation (Diseases and asthma)
And the best thing is it is much easier to do than you would imagine.
So if you haven’t tried it, give it a go and enjoy the results.
Important note: Before you fast make sure you are healthy enough to do so. Please check with your doctor first and anyone with a history of eating disorders, low blood pressure or any other medical condition should avoid it. The advice on diabetes is mixed so suggest it is best avoided unless under medical supervision.