The six things that diets tell you
Thousands and thousands of diet books have been written. But whenever we try to lose weight, we inevitably struggle. So are all these diets hopelessly wrong? I don't think so. If you start reading them, and I have to admit I've concentrated on the big famous ones, less on the Banana Diet approaches, then you'll find that they do seem to say a few similar and simple things. When you strip them down to their core principles there's not much more than half a dozen 'truths' that they keep coming back to one way or another. And they can't all be wrong, can they? So to save you a lifetime of reading here's what they say:
1. You’ll lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn off. And that’s the only way to do it.
2. There are two smarter ways to eat calories: Pure Protein and Fibre Filled Veg.
a. Pure protein. i.e. the lean muscle flesh rather than fatty cuts of meat. For fish we should be less worried about the fat – it’s just so good for you. These are high protein, low carbohydrate foods that satisfy hunger through the complex power of protein and how well it fuels your body. If you like meat and fish then it’s a great help in cutting calories. There are a couple of other sources like ‘no-fat’ cottage cheese and yogurt that are useful too.
b. Fibre Filled Veg are the main source of high fibre, low GI food. These are the more ‘chompy’ vegetables, full of roughage rather than than the sweeter, fattier veg (and fruits masquerading as veg). These physically fill you up without producing spikes and troughs in the blood sugar levels that lead to hunger attacks. They also keep digestion healthy and deliver vital nutrients.
3. Processed foods and high GI foods (white stuff) really pile on pounds just as much as the obviously sugary stuff. Avoid them and eat food that looks like food.
4. A bit of fat is not a problem; you need it.
5. Fasting is the surest way to lose weight and fasting in daily bursts is a good way to focus its impact – as well as make it more bearable.
6. You can work on both sides of this equation. So burn more calories through exercise and boosted metabolism.
Not all diets say all of these things, of course. And they present them in different ways. (Eg. the Cabbage Soup diet - that's just a way of limiting calories, combined with focusing on fibre). But I'd be interested to know if you find a radically different principle to these six.
So, if these diets are all saying broadly the same things, why don't they work? Why do most people who diet end up even heavier afterwards than before they started? Maybe it's because knowing what to eat is not actually the difficult part. I'll bet that you know what you should be eating to lose weight. But, as anyone who's ever tried dieting can tell you, the hard bit is sticking to it.
And that's where the Diet Groove comes in. It's not just about what you eat. It's all about how.