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Diets are all the thing now. Young people believe thinner is better, and set their sights on low weight as something worth enormous sacrifice.

Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

A few diet facts:

1. Normal healthy body fat content (according to SF Weekly diet specialist Covert Bailey) is 15% for men, 22% for women. The object of any sensible diet would be to achieve these levels of body fat, not just lose weight.

2. Eating a low-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet programs the body for famine, and makes it store more of the calories it consumes as fat.

3. If you lose weight on such low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diets, of seven pounds lost, only two will be fat. That means the bulk of the weight you lose on such diets is lean muscle mass. So the stuff that burns the weight off vanishes 250% more often than the stuff you want to lose! (Source: a dietician lecturing at my health club who weighed me in water, then on dry land to determine my body fat. This was long ago, so the fancy electronic scales that tell you body fat content in an instant weren't available then.)

Incidentally, if you exercise as part of a weight loss program, you'll often gain weight at the beginning as you add lean muscle mass—muscle is heavier than fat.

4. Diets are most often counter-productive. In fact, Covert Bailey says he has only had success with "weight loss" diets when treating people who need to gain weight. As mentioned before: low-carbohydrate, low-calorie diets program the body to replace lean muscle mass with fat.

This is why anorexics may look skinny, but are actually fat. The fat is marbled throughout their muscles, so they are weak. How fat? As much as 41% of their body weight is fat.

5. The high-protein, "fat-burning" diets like Atkins, South Beach and "Ketogenic" diets are very unhealthy.

Here's Proof that the Atkins Diet Works Like Chemotherapy By Sickness-Induced Starvation.Excerpt:

"Ketogenic refers to the creation of a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a natural condition the body resorts to under harsh circumstances, such as illness or starvation. When people are ill they need to be recuperating, not gathering and preparing foods. Loss of appetite facilitates recovery. A kindness of Nature for starving people is to quiet the pain of hunger. After 3 days with no food the body enters a state of ketosis and the pain of dying is relieved. "

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What about the Initial Rapid Weight Loss?

"The initial weight loss [of keto diets] is rapid, and therefore very rewarding, for the desperate dieter. Most of this loss, however, is water loss, rather than fat loss. With little carbohydrate in the diet the body resorts to using its glycogen stores of glucose. Glycogen, stored in the liver and muscles, can meet the average person’s glucose needs for about 12 to 18 hours. With each gram of glycogen is stored 2.7 grams of water. The average body stores 300 grams of glycogen. Depletion of the body’s glycogen would result in an almost overnight weight loss of 1110 grams (37 ounces or over [2] pounds). The ketones also cause a strong diuretic effect on the kidneys, resulting in losses of large amounts of fluid. The [keto diet's] carbohydrate ceiling for weight loss may be as low as 15 grams, depending on the individual. This is only 60 calories of carbohydrate, which means 1/3 of a baked potato, 1/3 cup of rice, or one orange daily could be your limit of carbohydrate intake in order to remain in sufficient ketosis to suppress your appetite."

Diets do not defy the laws of physics. You must eat fewer calories to lose weight no matter what magical mechanism the diet may claim makes it unique.

6. Diets do not defy the laws of physics. You must eat fewer calories to lose weight no matter what magical mechanism the diet may claim makes it unique. (see The Keto Diet is a Recipe for Disaster) Not even the Keto diet claims drinking alcohol is part of its approved intake.

This means that to be successful, a weight loss diet must emphasize low-calorie-density foods. A 500-calorie steak is about as big as your palm. Fat and oil are also high-calorie-density foods. Five hundred calories of potatoes is an enormous serving bowl full. Which one do you think will make you feel full sooner, and stop eating, the steak or the potatoes?

What does work?

It takes about 20 minutes for your body to register that you have had enough to eat, so slowing down such consumption can be effective. Also, smaller plates can be effective.

Most important: Don't diet. Change your lifestyle to include healthy food and exercise.

My personal endorsement is for the Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet. I'm certainly not a perfectionist about it—I'll eat turkey for Thanksgiving, and an egg once in a while…I'll even take a drink—but it's worked for 30 years now, and while it's not always easy to follow, it has served me well. It is easy to follow whenever I think of the pain I'm avoiding by eating healthy, though. Another good source of healthy nutrition is available at WEB Naturista.

My own experience is that I started having arthritis, along with lots of upper-respiratory infections in my forties. Before this, I ate lots of meat, drank lots of milk, and enjoyed the American diet to the full. By sheer chance, I ate WFPB for about a week. The change in my energy level was very noticeable. Within two weeks, the arthritis was gone, and the post-nasal drip ceased. Within a few months, I'd lost ten pounds and significantly reduced my tendency to get respiratory ailments.

And my experience has been replicated and exceeded by others. See these testimonials…(not lightweight…here's a guy who abandoned keto…and lost 100 lbs!).

You might also check out an account of the largest study of the connection between diet and health ever conducted—The China Study. One of the directors of this study, Colin Campbell, was a Columbia University biochemist who also discovered "aflatoxin"—a mold-based carcinogen. Campbell was raised on a dairy farm, where he ate lots of meat and milk. He currently tours the country promoting WFPB diets. The epidemiology bears out his findings, too. The "Blue Zones" where populations live longest tend to favor high-starch diets like WFPB.

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