From all I can gather, and from the podcast I listened to this morning, basically none (diet), or none in particular. If a diet is working for you, fine, stick to it if you want. But know in the end it’s likely, if the diet is extreme in any way, that you won’t be able to sustain it.
Plus, at the end of a year, most every diet leads you to the same place: some weight loss if you keep it up, some weight gain if you don’t.
This morning on my walk I was listening to Leonard Lopate’s podcast from WBAI radio in New York. He was interviewing author Robert J. Davis, PhD about his new book, Supersized Lies: How Myths about Weight Loss are Keeping Us Fat. Not a lot new if you’re no stranger to diets.
Davis, also known as the Healthy Skeptic, wrote the book to debunk what people believe about diets and dieting. The bottom line I took away is our bodies are all different: some diets works well for some people, no diet works optimally for everyone, and the best way to lose weight and keep it off is what we’ve been hearing now for several years: eat healthy, whole foods, veg, fruit, nuts, beans, seeds, grains, dairy, meats, and move. Chuck the processed foods NOW and don’t eat late at night – unless I imagine you work the night shift.
Davis also debunks the myth doctors love to share and we love to feel guilty about: Eat Less, Move More. Exercise, unless you work on a construction site where you’re carrying logs 10 hours a day, does little to aid weight loss. That said, any exercise is a good thing for overall health.
So I would rename the famous mantra: Eat healthy food and move. That really is the end of story. Except of course for all the mega companies that have made, and continue to make, billions of dollars making us think we need special foods or special supplements or special cookbooks or already prepared meals, or frankly to be svelte, skinny, thin.
I can’t quite remember when it was, but somewhere in my youth I reached my all time high weight of 165 pounds. It was likely before I was 18 and diagnosed with type 1 because I remember after my diagnosis in my early twenties I felt I had to lose weight for my health, and I did. I ate less and began running. I only made it to 3 miles, but hey, that’s three miles.
Over the decades I continued to eat healthier foods and smaller quantities (especially after I married a six foot Dutchman who weighed 125 pounds!) and my running became a daily one hour walk. I remember Snackwells in the early days when all we thought about was eating less and being hungry as a natural state. I remember counting calories, giving up salad dressing, and plateauing so, so, many times. But with all that, maybe because it happened over years, my weight came down to 145, where it stayed, then 134, where it stayed and my current, pretty consistent over the past two decades, 124 lbs.
When I did Keto two years ago, I quit as I couldn’t continuously eat that much fat. And I missed everything I normally make out of almond flour. When I did intermittent fasting (IF), basically two meals a day as my first meal wasn’t til 1 PM, and I skipped wine, my weight came down to 117. I loved that, but not enough to keep doing it, as I don’t do it anymore. Instead I have a cup of coffee with cream upon rising and my first meal of the day around 10:30 or 11 am. Trying not to eat after 7:30 PM is tricky as I find I often need something to raise my blood sugar before descending into sleepville.
What works for me may not work for you, but it works for my body, my lifestyle, my environment, my values, and my food tastes. While a fellow type 1-er once yelled at me that not eating bagels was a sacrifice she was unwilling to make, I don’t find it a sacrifice. I make my own scones, biscotti and coffee cake bread out of almond flour which I eat on a daily basis. Overall I’m low carb (not no carb), lots of veg, little fruit, full fat dairy (Fage 5% plain yogurt and cheese) nuts, nut butters, seeds (tahini), rarely grains, fish, some chicken, occasional meat, dark, dark chocolate (combine 85% and 100%) and a glass of vino many nights, along with a 45 minute to one hour walk almost every day. My weight vacillates between 120 and 124 lbs. I’m happy enough.
Bottom line: find what works for you. I would start with the basics: healthy, unprocessed foods, occasional treats – no starvation here or too tight regimes – and move. Again, maybe this doesn’t work for everyone, but I think for now it’s the best we’ve got.