In my experience, the most important factor to address in regards to healthy, sustainable weight loss is what you eat. Logically, if you are not eating foods that nourish and feed your body, it will crave to eat more and more until you meet its nutritional needs. Typically, this results in consuming too many calories and weight gain. Our bodies have, after all, evolved to survive. Our current food industries and healthcare systems, mechanisms more motivated by profits than human health, have increased the amount of animal products in our diets, introduced highly processed, food-like substances to our plates, and confused us with nutritional guidelines that have muddled our healthy instincts and encouraged us to eat more than we should. This is wrong! Following the principle of feeding my body the most nutritious plant-based, whole foods, I succeeded in losing around 100 pounds in the span of three years. Why? The short answer is I consumed fewer calories because my body received the nutrients it desperately required from less food. The idea of using food to cure disease is by no means original. Sometime after 460 BC Hippocrates declared, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Rationally, this leads us to the conclusion that eating the most healthy and nutritious foods available is the cure for the disease of obesity.
One of the earliest mentors in my weight-loss journey, John Gabriel, put it this way:
There are two fundamental reasons why we need to eat: (1) calories and (2) nutrients. A calorie literally means how much energy an item of food will provide your body, while a nutrient is a vitamin, mineral, fat, carbohydrate, or other essential building block that supports cellular health, integrity, or normal functioning. Most of the [processed] food we eat today has calories but very few nutrients; as a result, even though we may be eating more than enough calories, we are starving nutritionally.
Although my strategy for healthy and sustainable weight loss has changed some since my journey first began, the foundation of giving my body the essential nutrients it needs to thrive remains the cornerstone of my success. Without explaining the research or my why's, the basic meal plans I currently follow to lose one or two pounds each week are as follows:
•Breakfast - a superfood smoothie including two servings of microgreens, one banana, a cup of berries, 1 Tbsp. of ground flax seed, 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds, nut milk, a spice, and a whole-food sweetener
•Lunch - a superfood salad including two servings of microgreens, one serving of berries, and a tahini/balsamic vinegar dressing with ground flaxseed and a whole-food sweetener. (I also include one serving of beans and whole grain rice with my lunch)
•Dinner - one or two more servings of a whole grain, two servings of lightly cooked veggies other than greens, another serving of legumes
•Snacks - raw fruits and veggies
•Beverages - 5 servings a day of water and some medicinal tea
There are many diets I have personally observed others use to successfully lose weight. But, a word of caution is advised if health, not just weight loss, is one of your objectives. In regards to diets, Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM, ended his evidence-based, groundbreaking research titled How Not To Die: Discovering the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease with the following proclamation:
Know, however, that there is only one way of eating that's ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients, a diet centered around whole plant foods. Anytime anyone tries to sell you on some new diet, ask jus one simple question: "Has it been proven to reverse heart disease?" (You know, the most likely cause of death for you and everyone you love?) If it hasn't, why would you even consider it? If that's all a whole-food, plant-based diet could do--reverse our number one killer--then shouldn't that be the default diet until proven otherwise? An that fact that it can also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers would seem to make the case for eating this way overwhelming.
With this in mind, I would like to address my concerns about the current obsession with the Keto diet. When I was first introduced to this concept, I observed a close friend successfully lose a lot of weight following this plan. My original concern was that it is so new that it had no track record. My suspicions were later confirmed in that it increases the amount of saturated fats in your diets, skyrocketing your cholesterol levels and increasing your chances for heart disease and certain cancers. If your family has a history of either of these disease, it's wrong not think about your health first before embracing Keto.
For instance, take one of Dr. Joel Kahn's patients. According to an interview I heard with this very successful and well-informed cardiologist, this individual's cholesterol soared to dangerous levels following a ketogenic diet after just six weeks. Even though he did lose a substantial amount of weight, was the loss worth a trip to a heart doc? Likewise, my personal friend lost a lot of weight with Keto, but once he went off it what was shed he regained and then some. Is this diet, or others similar to it, healthy or sustainable? Only time will tell. As for me, I will stick with a lifestyle that requires a permanent shift. Honestly, I am thriving, prefer the plant slant, and have no plans of going back. If what I suspect is correct, my next round of blood tests and check ups will confirm what I believe I'm experiencing: sustainable weight loss and improved health.