Most Diets Don't Work
by Don Bennett, DAS
eat for two basic reasons: 1. For fuel (measured in calories), and
2. For nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fat, protein, etc.). There
are also emotional reasons for eating, but the above two requirements
are the only reasons your body needs to have food. Keeping these
two requirements in mind, let's look at how they can keep you from
being the weight nature intended you to be.
amount of calories you need during a day depends on your energy
output. If output equals input, you neither gain nor lose weight.
So, optimally, the food you eat should meet your daily energy requirement.
If you eat more than you need to satisfy your caloric requirement,
you can gain weight if you have a 'sparing" metabolism. If
you eat less than you need to satisfy your caloric requirement,
you get hungry. So under normal circumstances, you become hungry
as a signal to satisfy your caloric needs.
also have daily nutrient needs. If you consume more nutrients than
you need it's no big deal. But if you consume fewer nutrients than
you need, your health will suffer. Not overnight, but over time...
chronically. Malnutrition contributes to chronic degenerative disease.
being said, let's look at how food is structured as it regards these
two components: fuel and nutrients. If you were the designer of
the foods meant for human consumption, how would you determine how
much fuel and nutrients a food should have? Since daily caloric
needs do not necessarily mirror our daily nutritional needs, it
would be impossible to design a food to have just the right amount
of both calories and nutrients. So our food contains far more nutrients
than we need in a day (if it's grown in nutrient-rich soil). That
way, no matter what our level of activity (no matter how many calories
we need), we will still get enough nutrients. Or if the food has
lost some of its nutritional value because it's been "off the vine"
for a few days, there's still plenty of nutrients to fulfill our
our foods have a ratio of fuel-to-nutrients, with nutrients being
the bigger of the two. Again, this insures that even if we are eating
lightly, or the food has been sitting around for a few days, we
can still get enough vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and all
of the as-of-yet undiscovered substances that we need.
there are some things that can change this natural ratio of fuel-to-nutrients.
If a food is grown in nutrient depleted soil, it will be lacking
in nutritional value. Normally, spinach is a good source of iron,
yet I've seen spinach that contained no significant amount of iron
due to poor soil quality! And a downside of genetically engineered
corn is that it doesn't pick up zinc from the soil, while traditionally
grown corn normally would.
by far the biggest factor that affects the fuel-to-nutrient ratio
is cooking. When a food is exposed to temperatures over 115 degrees,
many nutrients are damaged, becoming unusable by the body. For example,
vitamin C and the B vitamins are especially heat sensitive.
happens when your body doesn't get enough fuel? You get hungry.
But your body also lets you know when you aren't getting enough
nutrients. If you're eating foods whose fuel-to-nutrient ratio is
the opposite of what nature intended due to cooking (more fuel than
nutrients) your body says, "Yep, I've got enough calories, but not
enough nourishment; so keep eating." And you do. But you're eating
in an attempt to satisfy your nutrient needs, not your caloric needs.
So what happens? You gain weight, or maintain an already overweight
condition. And this is why diets that contain cooked foods aren't
the most effective way to lose weight.
Empirical evidence shows that a person eating a diet composed mostly
of uncooked plant-based foods will find their unnatural weight eventually
"melts off", and stays off. Is there a dietary lifestyle that contains
a healthy amount of uncooked food that is also delicious, satisfying,
and not boring? You bet there is! And once you give your body what
it needs, and stop giving it what it doesn't want, your eating becomes
less of a response to cravings, and more of a desire to eat foods
that you love, and that love you back... as Nature intended!
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