The Oxford English Dictionary defines “diet” generally as a “way of feeding; food; the provision of victuals in daily use, as viewed as a collective whole, especially in relation to their quality and effects.”
However, the dictionary further defines the term somewhat differently, and this is how we view the concept today: “to feed, especially in a particular way, or with specified kinds of foods; to fix, prescribe or regulate the food a person in nature or quantity for a purpose (e.g., a regimen of health).”
It can be seen that the term “diet” is not a bad word, and it refers simply to the real regimen a person would follow. Yet, it takes on a progressively different meaning in the prescriptive sense, which is fine as well, particularly for those who need to follow specific eating methods for good health.
The problem, however, is that the word “diet” has become a negative term, for two reasons:
1) the prescriptive means leave a lot to be desired, since many diet/nutrition plans advocated are far from being complete or healthy, as we will explore later in this chapter;
2) because of the unusual, unhealthy and difficult-to-follow diets advocated by the so-called nutrition gurus, people have become fearful, untrustworthy and generally miserable at the mere though of “dieting.”
Dieting means that a person is subjected to a diet, which may not refer to fat loss, since the person who eats extra calories to gain weight also follows a diet. A person who is maintaining his or her weight is also following a diet.
In fact, every person on this earth follows a diet of some measure. But because of the negative connotation mentioned above and the perceived link that “diet” has to “feeling hungry all the time” (depriving oneself of satisfying foods), to have a person think properly about nutrition, the term “diet” needs to be replaced with “intelligent prescriptive nutrition.”
However, not everyone follows a plan of eating, as some simply eat what they want with little thought going into the process.
Nutrition Knowledge is Self-Empowerment – How Did It Happen?
Becoming overweight does not happen overnight. The accumulation of body fat that reaches the point that is unacceptable to you usually takes years of excessive calorie intake and lack of activity. In fact, by this point, the reflection in the mirror is not very pleasing. To get to this overweight or obese state took a lot of effort. Negative effort!
Look back over your lifestyle, and the things that you have done, such as the effort you have put into your studies, jobs or hobbies. Consider the good and bad lifestyle habits you have fallen into, such as how much alcohol you consume, whether you smoke, or most importantly, your eating habits and the amount of exercise you do. With the exception of certain hereditary factors, we are the sum of all our actions throughout the course of our lives.
The successes or failures that we experience are a direct result of the effort we have put forth. Therefore, if today you find yourself overweight or in the more dangerous state of obesity, it is likely the direct result of poor nutrition choices and lack of exercise.
Those who have continued with exercise from their scholastic days into their thirties and forties today find themselves in much better shape. They most likely have a better awareness of what they are feeding their bodies, because anyone who exercises today or participates in sports or activities is usually also exposed to more of a fitness-minded culture. Those who do not engage in physical activity and are immersed in their careers and family obligations tend to disregard the makeup of the food they are consuming, as it is not a main focus in their lifestyle.
Besides, eating has become an endeavour that North American society enjoys as a favourite social pastime. Calorie-laden junk food such as sweets, ice cream or potato chips are so pleasing to our taste buds, that often during periods of stress, boredom or depression, these carbohydrate-rich foods offer comfort and instant gratification.
To sum this all up, there are a variety of reasons why people gain weight to the point where their physical shape is distorted and their health is compromised. However the excessive weight gain has occurred, and regardless of your state of health, the good news is that the human body is very resilient, and if changes are made in time, very forgiving. It is never too late to get on a positive road to a better lifestyle that ultimately will increase longevity and help you live a more fulfilled life.
The words you’ve just read may be easy for me to say or write, but in fact harder for you to stop on a dime and make a 180-degree turn toward a new lifestyle that will cure all the ills of all the years it took for you to arrive at the shape you’re in today. For this reason, I never recommend that anyone instantly change everything they’ve done nutritionally (right or wrong) for the last 20, 30 or 40 years, and fool themselves into thinking that this swift change can be made successfully.
It takes us many years to develop our good and bad habits to develop. I believe that in order for us to change these habits (the bad ones), we must first gain a thorough understanding of the actions that brought us to the state we are in today. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Determine the negative aspects of your past eating regimen, and eliminate them gradually, much like a weaning-off process.
Normally, anyone purchasing a diet book who is bound and determined to shed their body fat once and for all, will pick up the book, read every sentence of every page, make notes, make a shopping list, and go out and purchase all the recommended items (including endorsed vitamins and food supplements). Then they will have their last binge meal on Sunday evening ? all in an effort to start the new wonder diet on a Monday morning. All psyched up, let the dieting begin.
It is common that the new diet calls for different foods from what a person is accustomed to eating in their daily lifestyle up to the point of the diet. Such a drastic change in eating and portion control affects a person in two distinct ways:
1) the psych-up of the diet in itself is unhealthy, as now the dieter must always be in diet mode, which leads to a feeling of deprivation;
2) following a philosophically set diet program as advocated in the popular diet books available today surely means that the food intake will be substantially diminished compared to what a person was regularly eating.
That in itself will affect the dieter’s energy level, and literally everything else they do throughout the day, including sleep. Maintaining a new eating regimen will require a great deal of willpower. However, unbeknownst to the dieter, by the third or fourth day, the body has had a chance to use up all of its reserve energy (muscle liver glycogen), and the dieter’s energy falls below what they are accustomed to. Various chemical reactions start in the brain, which will soon begin to test the dieter’s will power to maintain the strict diet program.
Most diets out today automatically dictate that dieters should reduce their carbohydrate level significantly compared to what they were accustomed to over the years. This will cause symptoms similar to withdrawal in drug-addicted individuals. Reduction in carbohydrates will soon mean a reduction of glucose in the bloodstream, the main fuel for our muscles, and most importantly, the brain.
Carbohydrates (glucose) are the brain’s main energy source, and instantly trigger a chemical reaction, which creates a feeling of well-being.
They stimulate the brain’s release of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that makes us feel happy and satisfied (euphoric). The lack of carbohydrates will curtail the production and release of serotonin, and we begin feeling edgy and irritable. This is the point (usually in the third to fourth day of the diet, Wednesday or Thursday) that most dieters break their diet and resort to binging to satisfy the brain’s need for carbohydrates.
Typically, strict diets, which most of the time do not include exercise, will result in what I’ve just described. What’s worse is that once the binging stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, an addiction-like process starts, whereby you have to continue to eat the calorie-dense carbohydrates (stimulant) to continue the production of serotonin (the feel good). At a point when the dieter can put the brakes on the binging process, several things will take place.
First, a feeling of guilt and failure – guilt for not having the willpower to stick with the diet, and failure because of the realization that the massive calories ingested will instantly add body fat. A motivated dieter will immediately resume the diet the following day, even stricter than before in an attempt to correct the misdeed of the previous day, only to soon fall into a repeated pattern of dieting and binging. (This type of binging has been found to be the leading cause of eating disorders such as bulimia.)
The majority of overweight people tende to always be in one of two states: either a state of “I’m on a diet” or of “I’m not dieting right now; I’m relaxing my food intake and eating what I want” – which will assuredly result in some fat gain.
We all wake up some days determined to make changes in our lives or accomplish something that has been on our mind for a while, as is the case when it comes to finally deciding to lose those 30 or 40 pounds of unwanted body fat. The decision to finally take action is a good one. Some fat loss methods leave much to be desired. Motivation to lose body fat without intelligence on nutrition will most certainly result in diet failure.
A fat loss nutrition plan can be a complicated ordeal; the strategy you utilize will determine the outcome. The plan should provide an abundance of the right nutrients that will alleviate deficiency cravings resulting in more energy throughout the day, and a healthier and more positive emotional state.
Remember, we form habits, good and bad, over the course of many years. There is no magic in the IPN program; it is a sensible plan that slowly eases you into fat loss without the “I’m on a diet” feeling. In most cases, because of the number of meals per day (which most people are not used to), our members have remarked that following the program feels like they’re actually eating more than they did before. However, their weight reduction proves the opposite.
Their volume of food may be larger than they are used to, but the make-up of the food is such that few empty calories are ingested, and the exercise program they are following “revs up” the metabolism so that more energy and body fat is expended every day.
To undo what you have done during the course of many years, resulting in the gaining of the excess body fat you are carrying today, will require a proper plan of action using intelligent nutrition principles. Other weight loss approaches that promises miraculous results in a short timeframe should be avoided, as these quick fixes are illusions that ultimately end up in disappointment.
A simple mathematical exercise on how many months or years it has taken you to gain the excess body fat you are now carrying should be an eye-opener. If it took that amount of time to gain that much body fat, it most certainly will take more than several months to lose it.
We often encounter situations with some people who are extremely overweight and motivated to lose the weight as quickly as possible. We immediately caution them that rapid weight loss is not what is important in the overall process. We set realistic goals of one to two pounds per week, so that the person understands that losing weight the right way is about changing lifestyle habits, and not joining the army and being subjected to boot camp.
We advise these people to take a gentle approach with themselves and not become fixated solely on diet, but to understand the IPN principles and make small changes in their eating and exercise patterns on a daily basis. We take the baby-step approach that it’s a “cinch by the inch,” as opposed to the fast-lane a “while by the mile.”
The Flat Belly Bible approach to fat loss will help you change certain dietary habits that will ensure that you slowly lose body fat. The combination of workouts and healthy meal plans will also help you keep off excess body fat in the future, while you enjoy participating in a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. By learning the sound principles of weight loss, you will have better control of your food intake, allowing you to make better choices and to be in charge of your fat loss destiny.
Weight Management and Proper Fat Loss
Certainly, a person needs to reduce calories in order to reduce fat, or at the least, increase proper exercise. But combining the two factors always works best. Regardless of the strategy implemented, the goal should be to lose body fat, and not merely weight, since you don’t want to reduce lean muscle mass (although most obese individuals will lose some percentage of water).
In this regard, as advocated on this website, fat loss should not exceed one to two pounds per week at most, to ensure that the loss is fat, and not lean muscle tissue. Very obese individuals can often lose a bit more than this safely, because they have so much to lose. In other words, the more fat you have, the easier it is to lose fat in larger quantities. The leaner you become, the harder it is to lose fat, as your fat loss process will slow down.
Fast weight loss should be discouraged with non-obese individual. Losing fat too quickly will definitely inhibit performance in athletes. It is best to have the greatest lean mass with the lowest fat mass, but a drastic and quick reduction in body weight will result in the loss of lean mass and valuable fluids. This is neither healthy nor advantageous in sports, or for the average person.
A slow loss in fat weight, by following a proper nutrition program that does not leave you hungry, results in energy expenditure of about 500 to 1,000 calories greater than food intake. To achieve this, and to lose weight gradually and safely, the goal is to decrease calories by 200 to 300 per day. Combined with a good workout strategy, which will contribute to burning as much as 600 to 900 calories per exercise session and increase an individual’s metabolism, a weekly fat loss will occur.
Do keep in mind that within three to four weeks of starting your weight loss journey, it is common to experience a short plateau in weight loss. To explain, to lose fat, fat must combine with oxygen to oxidize (break down in the body), thereby producing carbon dioxide and water for elimination from the body. Inspired oxygen combines with fat carbons to make carbon dioxide, and then combines with fat hydrogens to make water.
Carbon dioxide leaves the body quickly through expired air, but the water remains in the body for a much longer time. Before the water can be eliminated from the body, it must enter the bloodstream. This water weighs more than the fat that was oxidized, and this accounts for the plateau in weight during the initial phase of weight loss. The weight plateau eventually will break after a few days, characterized by frequent urination. But not all individuals will experience this phenomenon.
Also note that fast weight loss, in the form of water, is what occurs on high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets. When protein is high, the kidneys flush excess water to rid the body of nitrogen end products of metabolism (this occurs when the body breaks down protein into amino acids, and amino acids are assimilated in the tissues). Therefore, a person would need to drink extra water on a high-protein diet so as not to cause kidney damage.
Since carbohydrates hold water at a ratio of one to three, a low-carbohydrate diet results in the body flushing an overabundance of water while retaining a lot less water in the muscles. The initial weight loss from both diets can hardly be classified as either healthy or of value, since good hydration of the tissues is important for well-being and function for proper weight training workouts.
Next, to optimize fat loss, the secret is fat burning exercise plus proper fat burning foods. Fat tissue is inactive, whereas lean tissue is very active because of the uptake of food energy. The more lean muscle tissue developed, the greater the metabolism and the more calories the body expends around the clock. The harder the exercise, the more the metabolism remains high throughout the day; an intense bout of exercise can increase metabolism for several hours, and up to 25% for several hours thereafter.
This makes the HIIT method of exercise the ideal way for weight loss since it maximizes lean tissue gain, and is also the most intense method of conventional exercise. A trained body also increases one’s ability to utilize fatty acids rather than glucose for energy.
Further, the number of calories burned during activity depends on body weight (more specifically, the amount of lean muscle tissue) and the intensity of the exercise. This is one reason why traditional aerobics are ineffective for the most part, in helping to drop fat pounds while leaving lean mass alone. IPF exercise builds lean muscle, and it expends a lot of calories within a 30-minute session. A low-intensity weight workout, or aerobic session lasting 30 minutes, expends a lesser number of calories and does not promote as much lean tissue or strength gain.
But what if you don’t want to exercise? Fat loss is still possible, but it is difficult the leaner you become. What then occurs is that a person will undertake a sharper reduction in calories in order to lose more weight. This is how it works: an individual who diets without exercise will lose both fat tissue and lean tissue (IPF exercise stimulates the increase or maintenance in muscle, even when reducing calories to lose body fat!).
Moreover, any subsequent weight gain without exercise would mean an increase in fat primarily – unless the individual is a teenager or young adult who is still growing. Hence, after a period of weight loss and weight gain, which is a typical pattern – the non-exerciser may weight the same, but with a greater percentage of fat tissue and less lean muscle tissue.
Also, if eating habits do not alter for the dieter/non-exerciser, the individual often ends up weighing more, a typical consequence with long-time crash dieters. This can result in what is known as the ratchet yo-yo effect (see table below) in which body fat content increases and calorie needs decline (because of less muscle mass and a lower metabolism), after each diet bout, thus making the subsequent attempt at weight loss harder.
Even when following a medically prescribed low-calorie diet, doing so without exercise results in the loss of lean body mass. You need intense exercise to stimulate more muscle, or at least to maintain muscle.
Drastic and Counterproductive Weight Loss Measures
In desperation, many overweight people resort to drastic measures to try to quickly lose weight. These measures, although somewhat successful at the beginning with quick weight loss results, ultimately are doomed to fail and return the dieter to their former body weight, and usually with a higher amount of fat levels they started with.
Drastic weight loss measures usually mean a quick weight loss (10 to 20 pounds in two to four weeks) achieved through the use of methods such as fasting, diuretics, suppositories, bulimia, and diet pills such as Xenical, Phentermine, Dexatrim, and many others. All these measures impose huge stress on the body to shed weight in various ways; however, none of these measures attacks the real problem, which is losing body fat and maintaining or increasing lean muscle tissue.
Ratchet/Yo-Yo Effect of Dieting
An example of what happens with extreme weight loss methods, the following chart shows how ongoing, sporadic, quick weight-loss bouts result in what is referred to as the ratchet/yo-yo effect of dieting.
|Satisfactory weight for an average woman||Increase of 20 pounds over a few years and lack of exercise||Loss of 20 pounds in 6-8 weeks on low kcal diet of <1000 kcal followed by original eating plan||Increase of 20 pounds in a matter of months because of old eating habits||Cycle repeats following low kcal diet of <1000 kcal|
|lean fat |
|lean fat |
|lean fat |
|lean fat |
|lean fat |
As you can see by this chart, in an effort to lose body weight, bouts of extreme diets resulting in weight loss followed by immediate weight gain plunge the dieter into a roller coaster of weight fluctuation that ends up costing precious lean muscle while gaining even more body fat.
Draconian diets will also lead to one’s metabolism slowing down, plus nutritional deficiencies that are incompatible with good health.