Burn that fat ... but how?
Obesity is recognised as a health problem, but dealing with it can be difficult. Noted fitness expert PEG JORDAN looks at the many ways of losing weight. The first of a two-part article.
Fifty-one per cent of the world's population is overweight ... perhaps the result of a sedentary lifestyle and eating more processed foods.
IT is that time of year again. Every January brings new hope for millions of dieters that this year, finally, without fail, is the one in which you successfully shed that extra weight. One of the great constancies in life is the fact that New Year's resolutions to lose weight are abandoned with grim results in a matter of weeks.
However, this year may be different. I've never seen so many new weight-loss schemes reflecting new research and uncommon approaches. Obviously, the need has grown to alarming proportions. The willingness of people to seek out these new diet programmes is endless because the post-industrial world is truly getting fatter each year. World Health Organisation statistics reveal a rather mind-boggling trend: while 49 per cent of the world population is malnourished, a clear 51 per cent struggles with being overweight. The experts blame it on taking in fewer calories then you burn. We move less, spend more time in front of TV, video games, and computers, work at sedentary jobs, and eat more processed and junk foods.
In just one week, I received seven new diet books with "breakthrough, revolutionary solutions" for "safe, easy, lasting weight loss". Each promises hope to chronic dieters and overeaters. Each author insists that his or hers is the ultimate solution. Each of the "cutting edge methods" is hailed by a series of endorsements. The trouble is that each one is as philosophically and nutritionally opposed to the next as humanly possible. Who can you trust? What method really works? For people who have had their hopes dashed time and again, restricting calories is a depressing thought. Let's see if there is something for you in this latest round up that can rekindle one more sincere attempt.
Two new books The Warrior Diet and The Palaeo Diet reminisce about a Stone Age way of life, bolstered by the assumption that since human beings basically stopped evolving 100,000 years ago, we might as well revert to our "predator instinct" of hunting and gathering, because that is the last time we were hard, muscular, and strong. The basic message: Eat like a cave man to look like a cave man. Neither author is much worried about one's tendency to act like a Neanderthal once you only eat what you can chase, hunt and kill. The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmeikler is claimed as a "must-read" for people who want to eat like emperors and have a gladiator's body, who want to ignite the spirit of raw living while solving the problem of stubborn fat.
This is a definitely a "guy's diet book". Hofmeikler's Spartan thinking on nutrition was shaped by his early years with the Israeli Special Forces. His recommendations include: 1) Undereat throughout the day so that your body can detoxify, reload its enzyme pool, drop insulin stores, increase glucagons (a fat-burning hormone) and growth hormone. Deal with your daytime hunger by having a freshly squeezed vegetable, (since when do we "squeeze" vegetables?) small piece of fruit and drinking lots of water.
Hofmeikler believes your immune system will be naturally boosted during this daytime period of fasting and detoxification because you are not expending energy eating and digesting. Getting through this requires heavy supplementation of digestive enzymes, probiotics and minerals to chelate and transport the toxins out of the body. As to be expected, he also happens to sell all of these can't-live-without supplements.
The next phase of the diet is a period of controlled overeating in the late evening. Start with an appetiser of subtle-tasting foods such as green salads, then move on to a main meal that features a variety of tastes, textures and colours similar to what Roman warriors enjoyed, asserts Hofmeikler. Eat meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, whole grains, and end with fruit, but no refined sugars, pastries or bakery goods.
Along similar lines in terms of thinking that the dietary patterns of primitive humans are the solution for today's heavy weights is the new book, The Palaeo Diet, written by Loren Cordain, a scientist whose research into the original human diet has earned him a lot of media attention. Cordain insists that the diseases prevalent in contemporary societies such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, asthma, heart disease and cancer, are due to the dietary imbalances of agricultural production.
If you ate as our ancestors did in the Palaeolithic age, again anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 years ago, then you would have a diet of virtually all meat, fish, eggs, and some fruits and vegetables. You would be avoiding the cereals, dairy products, legumes that produce an acid-base imbalance in the body and become the biggest offenders in producing disease.
Both of these Stone Age diet fans insist that you avoid the Dr. Atkins protein diets because of the overindulgence in saturated fats, heavy load on the kidneys, and tendency to put a lot of weight back on people who suddenly can't resist their cravings for carbohydrates anymore.
Three new books champion the usual sensible eating plans of 1600 daily calories, which include a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats such as olive oil.
However, there is a slight twist to each of these books. Get Skinny the Smart Way insists that you drink a pectin fibre cocktail every day, load up on calcium rich foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, and then drown your dieting sorrows with 10 glasses of water per day. Nothing new there.
Only kinesiologists with advanced degrees in mathematics can appreciate Fuel Up by Eric Sternlicht with Neil Feineman. The book teaches you to eat like an elite athlete, adjusting 10 grams of carbohydrates and two grams of protein to every kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of body weight on intense training days.
But that often works out to too many calories, 5000 to be exact, if you stuck to the recommended 40:30:30 percentages of carbs, protein and fats. Therefore, Sternlicht recommends a series of mathematical adjustments based on workouts days that vacillate between more intense and lighter sessions.
For example, if you weigh 128 pounds, you should eat 582 g of carbs, 116 g of protein, and 34 g of fat totalling 3098 calories on heavy workouts days, but you should cut that back by 35 per cent to a total intake of only 2062 calories on the lighter days. And if that weren't enough to make your dieting brain a bit woozy, he provides you with no less than 25 pages of tables with low, moderate, and high intensity gram and kilocarlorie expenditures, to be moderated by hydration diaries, nutritive food value charts, daily diet logs and sample menus. Enough already! I've had an easier time reading my college calculus text.
(To be continued)
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