SPECIAL REPORT: Holistic Weight Loss
In modern society, the odds are stacked against your
weight. The experts reveal how you can harness the
latest cutting-edge science to fight back and trim down
while still retaining your vigour and health.
Words LINDA MOON
The best weight loss diet on earth — natural, wholefoods Most scientists, including Dr. Fung, advocate a whole food diet low in refined carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean you exclude all carbs, but rather the processed ones. Examples include orange juice (as opposed to the whole orange), rice cakes (as opposed to whole rice) and cornflakes (as opposed to corn on the cob). In other words, foods that have had the bulk, fibre and other components stripped away.
“The core pillars are [to] avoid sugar, avoid refined grains, don’t be afraid of natural fats (except vegetable oil which can be quite inflammatory), and eat foods as close to their natural state as possible,” he states. Traditional diets enjoyed by our ancestors are a safe bet for avoiding modern processed food, Dr Fung tips. “Where we sort of add on, is to say, don’t eat constantly. Cut out all the snacks, and if you want to, you can add in intermittent fasting.”
Nutritionist and wellness writer, Michele Chevalley Hedge, warns people to also watch out for hidden sugars. “Avoid packaged and processed foods as much as possible,” she advises. “They contain hidden sugars, even in innocent, ‘healthy’ foods like yoghurts, muesli bars and iced teas.” Catherine Saxelby’s Foodwatch lists 48 different versions of sugar including glucose, fructose, invert sugar, malt extract, golden syrup, pear juice concentrate, palm sugar and more. Don’t trust “sugar-free” marketing claims and always read ingredient labels. Also avoid artificial sweeteners — many of these have been linked with metabolic problems, weight gain and other health problems.
In her latest book Eat, Drink and Still Shrink, Chevalley Hedge suggests healthy, balanced meals, rather than deprivation, as the secret to reducing food temptations. “You crowd out the need and desire for sweets when you eat proper meals packed with satiating nutrients. Also drink more water. Protein and fat will make you feel full and send a message to the brain to say ‘Hey, I am satiated’. I don’t believe in low-fat or no-fat anything. It’s tasteless and makes you feel hunger due to less satiation.” Backing her up, a 2015 Lancet review of 53 weight loss trials found dieters lost significantly more weight on low-carb diets than low-fat ones.
Chevalley Hedge recommends good fats like avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts and coconut milk, as well as “smart carbs” that don’t spike insulin like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and sweet potato. While there’s no single miracle weight loss food, green tea and chilli have been shown to increase our basal metabolic rate, she adds.
You might also want to monitor your salt intake. While the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood, recent research has linked high-salt diets to increased weight gain and appetite, fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. Like sugar, it is widely spread within processed and snack foods, as well as restaurant and takeaway foods.