Diets don’t work. That’s not an invitation to throw in the towel on your New Year’s resolution right now, though — it’s just a fact. Because as anyone who’s dieted before can attest, every time you lose that weight, you’re almost guaranteed to find it again. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to stay overweight or that you should give up on your efforts at self-improvement. Instead, it simply means that you need to learn how to eat correctly. So, in this course of this summary, you’ll learn:
- Why sweet treats actually make you hungrier
- How overeating is similar to being stabbed and
- Why fat foods can actually help make you lea
Chapter 1: What Really Caused Our Obesity Epidemic?
By now, you’ve probably been hearing for years that America has an obesity problem. And it’s true! But you’d think we would have figured out how to fix it by now. However, Ludwig posits that our failure to do so can be attributed to the fact that we blame obesity on the wrong variables. So, let’s tackle a few common misconceptions about obesity right now. One of the most prevalent misconceptions is the belief that obesity is caused by physical inactivity. It isn’t! In fact, exercise can sometimes be counterproductive when you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because we often overestimate the amount of calories we burn during exercise and it actually takes a lot more effort than we put in at one session in the gym to burn off the calories accrued by a single candy bar. So, spending more time in the gym doesn’t actually help you lose more weight — it might just make you extra hungry, prompting you to overeat.
Another common misconception is the “fat gene,” which also doesn’t explain our nation’s problems. Although fat genes do exist and they can have an effect on your overall body weight, they’re not the sole reason for people becoming obese. The same is true for overeating, which is also a genuine problem, yet not the singular culprit. Although you might think it would be a simple matter of consuming more calories than we burn, the problem goes a little deeper than that and we can’t just fix it by eating less. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s not that easy to “just eat less.” People get hungry and we also need certain amounts of calories to stay healthy! That’s also why it’s unwise to base your diet around calorie content alone. A 200-calorie portion of french fries from McDonald’s, for example, is a lot more unhealthy than a 200-calorie serving of nuts.
But perhaps the most harmful misconception is the idea that you can lose weight by eating less. That simply isn’t true because you don’t gain weight when your cells have too many calories. You gain weight because your organs aren’t getting enough nutrients from your blood. And if a person is obese for this reason, that means that undercuttingtheir food supply won’t fix the problem — it will just slow down their metabolism and make them hungrier and more unhealthy!
Chapter 2: Insulin Effects Your Weight Gain
Many people assume that consuming high-fat foods is what makes you fat. But if that were true, you could just replace all your favorite foods with low-fat alternatives and everything would be great! But in fact, such a diet would actually be more likely to make you gain weight because of the effect of insulin. Why? Because insulin is a hormone that controls how your body processes calories. Insulin levels get higher when you eat food and decrease when you’ve finished eating. This process releases the nutrients from your fat cells into your bloodstream, sending energy to your brain and other vital organs. However, eating too many refined carbohydrates — things that are high in sugars and processed starches — cause your body to produce a surge of insulin which, in turn, leads to weight gain.
So, why is it that we crave things like cinnamon rolls and pasta and candy if they’re so bad for us? The simplest answer is that they taste good. But we also like them because they provide us with a temporary boost of energy. Consuming these foods floods the body with glucose, which causes our insulin levels to spike. Our fat cells then work overtime to absorb excess glucose and fatty acids to remove all that sugar from our blood. But here’s the catch: because these foods give you instant sugar gratification, your body runs out of that energy almost instantly, which prompts your brain to get panicky and convince you you’re hungry so you’ll eat more. If you don’t start consuming more sugary foods, your body goes into starvation mode as your blood sugar levels fall, triggering your metabolism to slow down and hang on to the calories you do have. And as you might imagine, this only makes you gain more weight.
Chapter 3: Being Obese Makes Your Immune System Suffer
When you get a cut — even a simple paper cut — your body immediately springs into life-saving action. Your wounded tissue sends a chemical signal to your white blood cells, letting them know they need to kill any harmful bacteria. As the tissue begins to heal, your body backs off the aggressive immune system support. However, this process doesn’t happen in the same way for people who are obese. Because the fat cells of obese people are constantly under stress, your immune system thinks it should always be in attack mode. This triggers chronic inflammation in your body because when you gain weight, your cells get “fatter” too. When it reaches a certain size, a cell dies from oxygen deprivation, and this triggers your immune system to attack the cell.
Your body thinks it’s helping you by fighting to bring dead cells back to life, but unfortunately, it’s really just attacking itself. And although your body’s attack mode canbe awesome for when you’re injured, when you’re overweight, it just means that your body is constantly under stress. To make matters even worse, chronic inflammation can create a host of additional health problems like insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is problematic because it means that when fat cells are desensitized to the body’s signals to reserve calories for later, excess sugar and fat remain in your blood. When your blood can no longer cope with excess sugar, it diverts it to other places, like your liver, which can severely impair your liver function.
Likewise, when blood sugar levels are high, your pancreas secretes more insulin to try and keep up and this can overstimulate cell growth. If your body is unable to control that growth, your risk of getting cancer may be increased. And after repeatedly fighting this battle, your pancreas may get weary and be unable to keep up and produce enough insulin. And sadly, that’s how people develop type 2 diabetes.
Chapter 4: Eat the Correct Foods
By now, you know that there are “right” and “wrong” foods to eat, but the trouble is that that definition changes from diet to diet. So, what really is the right type of food if you want to be healthy and lose weight? Well, the first thing you want to do is forget about low-calorie or low-fat diets, as we’ve already proven that they don’t help. So, instead, follow these healthy tips.
First of all, make sure your body gets the correct nutrients. Your body craves nutrients and needs them to grow, so if you don’t get enough of them, your body will tell you to keep eating until you finally acquire the right amount of nutrients it needs. That’s why, if your diet consists primarily of unhealthy foods, your effort to get enough nutrients means that you’ll consume more calories than you actually need and gain weight. You can combat this problem by seeking foods that are high in nutrients and that come in smaller portions. It's also crucial that you get a few ounces of protein every day. You need a fraction of an ounce of healthy fat, too, so aim for foods like olive oil, coconut oil, and fish.
And though you probably heard this all the time in childhood, don’t forget your vegetables! In addition to being a fantastic source of protein and calcium, vegetables also help you lose weight and strengthen your gut bacteria. That’s because plant fiber is good for maintaining healthy bacteria and lessening the effect of the harmful types. Promoting good bacteria can also help you reduce inflammation, so make friends with your veggies as soon as possible! It’s also important to remember that your body doesn’t actually need a lot of carbohydrates. While carbs aren’t the root of all evil as a lot of diets would have you believe, they can contribute to weight gain, so just eat them sparingly.So, maybe don’t eat an entire loaf of bread for dinner; just have a few slices and balance it out with a salad.
Chapter 5: Shop Smart
So now that you know what a healthy diet looks like, how can you stick to it? Well, the key is self-discipline (and also shopping with intelligence). It’s also important to trust your body and avoid setting calorie limits for yourself. Rather than attempting to restrict your food intake, listen to your body’s hunger cues and respond accordingly. Respecting your body is far more important than following any prescriptive diet plan, so remember that part of respecting your body is avoiding unhealthy comparisons. Don’t monitor your progress constantly or weigh yourself a dozen times a day or compare your body to others. This produces nothing but an unhealthy amount of stress which can impede your progress. So instead, if you want to chart your progress, weigh yourself once a week and make a note of that, but nothing more.
It’s also important to acknowledge that you’re going to face setbacks as well. Because listening to your body doesn’t mean giving into that craving for a cupcake every time your body tells you it wants one — but sometimes, it’s still hard to resist. So, prepare to be tempted and be ready to fight. You can combat unhealthy cravings by reminding yourself of the reasons why you want a healthier lifestyle. Making a list of those reasons and putting it somewhere you’ll see it often is one great way to fight temptation. Because when you look at your list of reasons for making healthier choices, you might have to admit that you want these more than a cupcake.
Another great tip is to prepare for the moments that will catch you by surprise. A lot of healthy eating patterns are abandoned because people get home from work too late and it’s easier to order a pizza than cooking a balanced meal. And while that’s very understandable, it’s also preventable. So, make your kitchen convenient by stocking up on all the healthy things you’ll need ahead of time. Keeping pre-cut vegetables, fresh meat, and whole milk products on hand — along with healthy snacks like nuts, frozen tropical fruits, and dark chocolate — can minimize the time between your cravings and the completion of a home-cooked, healthy meal.
Chapter 6: Conquer Your Cravings
One of the most important steps to cultivating a healthy lifestyle is lowering your body’s insulin levels. So, for the first two weeks of your new attempt at making healthy food choices, avoid any foods that might trigger your body’s unhealthy cravings. For two weeks, don’t give yourself any processed foods or anything that contains added processed sugars. Instead, shoot for “real” foods like starchy vegetables, fish, eggs, and cheese. If you balance your diet appropriately, foods like these can actually meet most ofyour body’s nutritional needs. And as a rule of thumb, you should aim for a diet that contains 50% fats, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% protein.
So, think about revolutionizing your daily menu with meal suggestions like this one. For breakfast, why not try two eggs with one egg extra white and fried in a teaspoon of olive oil? You can top the egg with a spicy chili sauce and two tablespoons of shredded cheese. And on the side, enjoy a delicious cup of Greek yogurt with fresh raspberries! Just think how a breakfast like that would revamp your morning! A quick word of advice, however — when it comes to that chili sauce suggestion, don’t just run to the store and grab the first chili sauce you find, as this will lead you right back to consuming processed sugars. (Because yes, processed sugars are in everything, even chili sauce!)
Instead, you can make your own ranchero sauce at home by chopping one yellow bell pepper, one green pepper, a clove of garlic, and one small onion. If you don’t have time to do it by hand, this can easily be thrown in the food processor. Cook this mixture on low heat for 10-15 minutes, adding olive oil, dried oregano, a chopped spicy red chili, one chopped tomato, and salt and pepper as it suits your taste. That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? It’s important to choose recipes and healthy practices that you feel you can realistically do because eating well is also about taking it easy. Today, our culture puts a lot of stress on dieting, with the implication that it shouldn’t be fun and will suck all the joy out of your life. But that doesn’t have to be true at all!
Chapter 7: Retrain Your Fat Cells
Once you’ve kickstarted your new, healthy lifestyle, you’ll pleased to know that you’ve already done the hardest part. The second stage of your journey toward healthy food habits will last a lot longer than the first and concentrate primarily on maintaining the good habits you worked hard to cultivate in the first stage. In fact, depending on your weight and how well your body responds to your new diet, this phase might last anywhere from six months to a year. You can increase the success of this phase by retraining your cells through the introduction of healthy carbs. After you’ve gone awhile without consuming excess carbohydrates or overly processed foods, you can start to reintroduce some healthy carbs back into your diet and see how your body responds. At this point, your body should be able to produce a healthy amount of insulin, so try strengthening your body’s response to insulin by trying whole grains, starchy vegetables (but avoid potatoes!), and tropical fruit or honey. You can also try a half-cup of brown rice, oats, or quinoa three times a week. As you introduce these foods, monitor your body’s responses. If you find that your cravings are increasing, your body’s insulin levels are likely culprits. So, if you catch this happening, dial it back on the carbs and give your body what it truly needs by increasing your consumption of fats and proteins.
You can also burn excess carbs through exercise. Although a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t re;y too heavily on either diet or exercise, a balance of both is essential to optimum health. Plus, exercise can actually increase your insulin sensitivity, which will improve your body’s ability to process insulin. So, if a daily walk isn’t already part of your routine, make it one! And once you’ve added that to your lifestyle as a consistent habit, consider adding some upgrades like a half-hour of moderate physical activity through practicing yoga or going for a light hike. These forms of exercise will help you retrain your fat cells and keep you healthier overall.
Chapter 8: Mindful Eating Reduces Stress
Remember how we talked earlier about the importance of taking it easy? Well, it’s so important that we’re actually going to reiterate it again! Because now that you’ve arrived at the last of Ludwig’s tips for healthy eating, it’s important to focus on eating mindfully. Mindfulness can best be defined as a state of awareness achieved by focusing on the present moment and a calm acknowledgement of the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations you’re experiencing. Put simply, that means staying conscious of where you are in your journey and how the choices you’re making are affecting you. This is an important part of staying in control of your cravings because we all know how stress can make us overeat or crave unhealthy things.
There are a few things you can do to reduce the stress from your new eating habits. One best practice is to always avoid eating in front of the computer or TV. Getting lost in a show or getting caught up with your work is a surefire killer of mindfulness because it distracts you from being present in the moment and considering how full you’re getting. If possible, you should also try to avoid having stressful conversations while you’re eating because stress makes us want to overeat! However, when stress is unavoidable, you should try some light exercise instead of giving in to cravings to cope. Activities like taking a walk, going for a swim, or exploring pretty areas of nature can help you to feel centered and at peace.
Chapter 9: Final Summary
There are many common misconceptions about how obesity occurs, but we can fight them with an understanding of healthy eating habits. When we acknowledge that cutting calories, starving ourselves, or pursuing low-fat diets won’t make us thinner, we can replace unhealthy dieting trends with better eating choices. Through the practice of mindful eating, training our fat cells, and recalibrating our diet through the consumption of healthy foods, we can reclaim our bodies and tune into what they need.