Let’s be clear: You can definitely, positively, lose weight on an unconventional diet. If you’ve lost weight on a diet that eliminates fat, carbs, gluten, plants, meat, or sugar, you’re not alone. But the dirty little secret is that if you lose weight at all, it’s because you found a way to eat fewer calories than you expend. Eliminating food categories is one way to do this. Good method for many people, at least for a while.
Well, now you might be thinking that, if these diets work, why would you write an entire column about their obscurity?
Truth, justice and the American way, of course. But maybe also empowerment. Because people should know when they are being sold a bill of goods.
Let’s look at some fun examples of diets that fit the Karnak model:
- Grain-free dietSimilar to “wheat belly,” he argues that digesting wheat produces polypeptides that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, making wheat an appetite stimulant.
- Carnivorous diet It claims to reduce hormonal fluctuations, because the insulin spikes associated with carbohydrates create “a series of other imbalancesHormones associated with hunger and fat storage.
- intermittent fasting He finds that restricting intake for an extended period of time gives your body no choice but to tap into fat stores, so you lose more than if your body had constant access to blood sugar.
- blood type diet He says your blood type tells you about your ancestors, and we gorge ourselves on the food our ancestors ate. And there are plenty of other fad diets that double down on this idea.
- And of course low carb/ketowhich confirms this, since insulin is key to fat storage, if you don’t eat carbs, you won’t release insulin and store less fat.
To be fair, there are a couple of diets that will tell you definitively that they are primarily a strategy of eating less. The basic rationale for a low-fat diet is that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein contains 4 calories, so if you consume more of the lower-calorie macronutrients, you consume fewer calories overall. . And the Volumetrics diet assumes that if you eat less calorie-dense food, you’ll end up consuming fewer calories.
While some of the diet’s rationales are pretty silly, not all of them are wrong. Insulin, for example, really facilitates fat storage. But there’s one nutrition fact that trumps all others, and it’s really the only thing you need to know about food and health: What we do know is completely dwarfed by what we don’t.
remember like The blind man and the elephant? Six blind men were able to “see” an elephant by feeling a part of it, and each came up with vastly different ideas of what an elephant was. The man with the fang thought it was like a spear. The man with the torso thinks he is like a snake. You got the idea. They came up with inaccurate ideas because they didn’t feel the whole thing.
This is what happens with diets. No one can see the whole elephant. Science hasn’t mapped it out (yet). So every dietitian sticks to a piece of human metabolism and decides it’s the key to health and weight loss—but really, it’s just a nail-biter. Sure, digest wheat yields polypeptides! But there is so much going on in the human body that it is very hard to know how.
There’s only one way to find out, of course: actual experiments. And — surprise, surprise — the ones we have (and we have many) show that, in the long run, no diet works for weight loss. The trajectory—people lose weight for up to two years, then gain the weight back—is similar for everyone.
But let’s get back to this part where people actually lose weight on the crank diet. why is that? Because, after we get the scientific stuff out of the way, there are usually some pretty decent strategies for doing that thing that’s at the heart of weight loss — eat less.
So how about this: ignore the science and cut back on the strategies. Intermittent fasting certainly doesn’t beat other diets, but that doesn’t mean closing the kitchen after dinner is a bad idea. In fact, it’s a good idea.
Then look at low-carb foods. No, insulin is not closely associated with subsequent eating and weight gain, but that doesn’t mean cutting out sugar and refined grains is a bad idea. In fact, it’s a good idea.
To lose weight, you don’t have to understand the nitty-gritty of human metabolism; Diet is not knowledge problem. You just have to know practical strategies for eating less; Diet is a Action problem. So think of the onslaught of crank diets as a variety of strategies, pick and choose from what works for your lifestyle.
I used to be overweight, but am not now, and have used ideas from various diets to keep it that way. I don’t fast intermittently, but I do close the kitchen after dinner and put off breakfast until I’m really hungry. I don’t follow a low-fat diet but I do limit added fats in the dishes I prepare. I’m not low carb, but I don’t eat a lot of refined grains. I collect dishes with vegetables (volumetric size). I don’t eat any highly processed foods (every diet known to man). I don’t keep the easy-to-eat foods that call me home (common sense), and when we have to buy Girl Scout cookies for neighborhood harmony, I have my husband stash them somewhere (well, nobody recommends that, but it works for me because Thin mint is calling my name).
What I hate most about unconventional diets is that they prey on people who, often desperately, want to make a change. Metabolic Rationals provides a lifeline – all I have to do is this one thing! – And then the final failure appears for you shame. But anyone who’s tried it knows losing weight is hard. There is no single thing. And only You are I know where for you The diet goes off the rails, what foods for you Backtracking, how the changes fit or didn’t fit for you life.
My hat off to people who feel comfortable no matter their weight and focus on other aspects of their health. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Being fat made me unhappy. And maybe that’s why the false hope that a traffic-crank diet is driving me crazy. But I also think losing weight is not only possible, it’s pretty straightforward – at least in principle.
It’s not a problem of knowledge, so forget about polypeptides. It’s an actual problem, and only you know what to do.