There are almost as many diets that one can follow to lose weight as there are stars in the sky. Not quite, but almost. If you’re one of the many who fall into the obese category (BMI over 30) you may have tried more than one or a few of these such diets. Some diets are special and are designed to treat certain diseases and/or chronic conditions, like Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, diabetes, celiac sprue and others. (Just hope you never get so sick that your doctor has to put you on a pancake and flounder diet! More about
Anyway, some years ago – actually, the year before the hurricane – I attended a medical education seminar in New Orleans that focused on preventive medicine. Prevention of heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc. Topics like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attacks, etc. was discussed. Obesity was also a topic and associated with this topic was a talk by a New York University researcher entitled, “What is the best diet plan to recommend?” I remember when I first read the seminar’s agenda that I was especially eager to hear what the research had found in answering this greatly debated question about the most effective diet to be on for losing weight.
The researcher had reviewed and studied 14 different popular diets: Weight Watchers, Low Carb, Low Fat, South Beach, Atkins, Sugar Busters, Nutrisystem, Dean Ornish, and others.
After detailing the various diets that were studied and applying a
statistical analysis to the results of the participants who had lost (or not lost) weight, it was determined that in the final analysis the best diet plan was -- the one that works for you. The differing results among the various plans was statistically insignificant to allow a claim by any particular diet proponent that their plan was more effective than any other. No diet, regardless of its glitzy marketing ploys or the number of books it’s sold, was any more effective than any other diet. There may be a perception that it is more effective, but the objective reality says otherwise.
You may be probably thinking at this moment that this has been your experience, if it in fact has. After thinking about it, I realized that it was very common for me to receive feedback from patients who had failed on one diet but succeeded on another. Failed on low fat but got results with low carb. Failed on South Beach but did well on Weight Watchers. And so forth. Why this
happens is something of a mystery. One researcher has theorized that if our primitive genetic make-up marks us as a “hunter” then we will respond to, say, a low carb diet. If on the other hand you are genetically marked as a “gatherer” then you might do better with a low fat diet. But this is a theory and is for the most part only helpful in explaining the phenomenon and has nothing to do
with helping us to choose, right off the bat, the correct diet. For who’s really able to choose their Mama and Daddy?
The take away message was: Whichever diet you start -- stay on it! For some reason people simple respond better and are better able to comply with one diet better than another. Perhaps it’s the “eating differently” that matters along with taking in fewer calories than your previous maintenance diet.
Regardless of the diet you choose, at the end of the day in order to be successful in losing weight in the long run you will need to master the fundamental equation that determines the weight of all living mammals. And that is, the amount of calories expended (burned off) must be greater than the amount of calories taken in (eaten).
On the lighter side of things and back to the pancake and flounder diet…
Doctor evaluates a very sick patient:
Doctor tells patient, "You have Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, the flu, and the Ebola virus. So we're putting you on a pancake and flounder diet".
Patient says "Will that help"?
Doc says "No, but it's the only thing we can kick under the door'!