Every time I go to the mall the book stores are regaling me with every diet plan known to man. The best weight loss program is this. The best weight loss program is that. In fact it doesn't take much time to realise that they are all very much the same. In fact most are rehashes of a hundred previous diets with just their own spin. Perhaps just a variation on food-combining or some new trend out of Hollywood.
There are no secrets about weight loss, just basic common sense and good science. Let's consider the obvious - burn more calories than you eat and you will lose weight. A calorie (or kilojoule if you are in Europe or Australia) is a measure of the potential amount of energy contained in food. For example a gram of refined sugar contains 4 calories, a gram of salt zero. You can achieve this negative result by (a) reducing your food intake or (b) doing more exercise. That is a no-brainer. However the way the body metabolizes calories is a little more complex than just straight mathematics. The way the body uses the calories in proteins is different from the way it uses carbohydrates like sugars. This is worth a little more examination.
Proteins contain 4 calories of energy per gram, the same as sugar. However the body uses each for quite different purposes. Sugars are used by the body for energy and protein is used for rebuilding tissues. No amount of protein will ever make you fat. As proof look at the Masai people in Africa. Their whole diet is based on animals - meat, milk and blood. Their body fat levels are low and they suffer no obesity ion their society. However remove them from their natural environment and let them eat a "normal" western diet full of carbohydrates and they quickly gain weight, suffer from heart disease and other degenerative diseases and generally begin to behave just like most Americans today. In other words calories ain't calories in their effect on our bodies.
Likewise fats contain 10 calories per gram which might lead us to the conclusion that very low fat diets are the answer to weight loss. That is a mistake that has been perpetrated on the public for two decades now and meanwhile obesity rates have mushroomed. In fact like protein the body uses fat differently from carbohydrates and they don't directly add to your weight and neither will reducing them guarantee will you enjoy weight loss. In fact I can guarantee you won't unless you are super strict and give up every food you enjoy.
The problem with all these diet programs is that they just repeat the same old mistakes without telling you, the dieter, the real facts. The truth is Dr Atkins got it right when he advocated a low carbohydrate diet to lose weight. The weight gain issues our society faces today is directly the result of excessive carbohydrate intake which is not balanced with reasonable exercise. Sugar is hidden in so many foods it is scary. We eat 50 times more sugar than our great grandparents. We also suffer from vastly increased rates of diabetes and heart disease. Our zeal for carbohydrates and in particular sugar is killing us.
Proteins, like fats don't cause weight gain like sugars. The body uses them to rebuild itself and in both cases the excess is expelled. Saturated fats are a concern because large quantities can't be expelled properly and end up clogging arteries. Protein is simply lost if too much is eaten but this is harmful for the kidneys and should be avoided. You should eat no more than 1 gram for every 2 pounds of body weight and no more.
On the other hand carbohydrates add weight to the body because of the insulin response . Too much sugar causes the body to release large quantities of insulin from the pancreas and the sugar is turned to glycogen first and then fat. The mechanism is well established scientifically and is the reason we have such rampant obesity today.
The best weight loss program must focus on returning the balance to our diets. We can no longer indulge our sweet tooth and just expect to stay healthy. Any good weight loss program will include dietary advice on the correct ratios of fat to carbohydrates to proteins. It will also include information on foods which burn fat more efficiently and foods to avoid. Food must be a major focus of any worthwhile weight loss program but it shouldn't make you feel bad about eating. We are sensuous beings and we were made to enjoy food and drink and friends and not to live on a lettuce leaf and some sprouts. Find a program that balances life with diet and you will be on a winner.