Rapid weight loss can be so quick and easy – if you believe all those fad diet advertising claims. A fellow heart attack survivor, for example, tells of losing nine pounds in the past five days. She has accomplished this feat, she explains, thanks to a miracle diet she heard about while watching the Dr. Phil show on television.
Phil is always a font of reliable evidence-based health information. (I’m kidding about that last part, my heart sisters).
She was so inspired by this TV interview with a telegenic, fit and very convincing young author of yet another miracle diet book that she went out and bought the expensive best-seller, and says she is now “thrilled” with her resulting nine-pound weight loss results. She does confess, however, that she’s already had to “cheat” on the strict diet a few times in the past five days, and is “struggling” to stay on it so far, but she still seems thrilled nonetheless.
Trouble is, strict weight loss diets typically result in regaining that lost weight – and more. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, for example, analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within 4-5 years than they initially lost.
And very rapid weight loss can put extreme physical demands on the body. Possible serious risks include gallstones (which occur in up to 25% of people losing large amounts of weight), dehydration, malnutrition and severe electrolyte imbalances.
Desperate for quick results in a culture of instant gratification, “women try to lose weight on diets with far too few calories,” warns Dr. Judith Beck, director of the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Research near Philadelphia. But she explains:
“If you lose weight on 1,200 calories a day, the minute you go up to 1,300 is the minute you start gaining weight again.”
In contrast to this desire for rapid weight loss, another heart attack survivor tells of having gradually lost a total of 100 pounds – by not being on a diet at all. She explains that she simply started shopping and eating better, using a grocery shopping list of the ‘world’s healthiest foods’. The 130 items on this list are provided by the George Mateljan Foundation, an independent not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests, no advertising, and no miracle diet books to flog.
How are the world’s healthiest foods selected for this list?
- Most nutrient dense – a food is more nutrient dense when the level of nutrients is high in relationship to the number of calories the food contains
- Whole foods – not highly processed nor do they contain synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients
- Familiar foods – common “everyday” foods
- Readily available – the majority of people can easily find these foods at their local market
- Affordable – especially if you purchase them locally and in season
- Tastes good – self-explanatory!
Now don’t despair, heart sisters – this grocery list is not merely one of sprouts and tofu. In fact, the list resembles what cardiologists at Mayo Clinic recommend as an excellent heart-healthy eating plan like the Mediterranean Diet. It includes fruits, veggies, seafood, eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts/seeds, poultry, lean meats, and complex carbs like whole grains, brown rice, oats or barley. What it doesn’t include, of course, are processed foods made with sugar or refined white flour. See also: Don’t Buy Anything You’ve Ever Seen Advertised.
Our 100-pound loser (make that ‘winner’!) says she simply sticks to this grocery list and that’s how she has maintained her longterm weight loss. The slow reality: you will lose one pound of body fat every time you eat 3,500 fewer calories than your body burns off.
Print off this useful list of the 130 healthiest foods and try taking it with you on your next grocery shopping trip. You’ll likely be as amazed as I was to find all your favourite basics and much more here.