Confusion

Confusion—QuinnDombrowski (Flickr.com)

Why Diet Choices are So Confusing

I continually run into the same comment:  “Joe, why don’t you like the “blah blah blah” diet?  My friend Leslie did very well with it.”  My answer is usually a little more involved than I’d like it to be, so I thought it best to illustrate a few points about diets and why it can be so baffling to pick one out.  Basically, picking out a diet that is best for you is an individual choice and highly dependent on your own situation and preferences.   For some, almost any diet will work, while with others, only one or two have even a chance of working.  The more you understand about the basic nutritional workings of a diet and your own needs and preferences, the better off you’ll be in making a choice of the best diet for you.

Part of my frustration with this is that the low carb diet, also called the low carb high fat (LCHF) diet is by far the best, especially for those who have problems Craving Sugar.  Nevertheless, we hear about friends and acquaintances talking about so many others.  To sort of cement the value of the LCHF diet, view the following video interview conducted by Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, a longstanding LCHF advocate. He was speaking with Eric C. Westman, MD, and President Elect of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

I’m covering three points in this discussion on selecting a diet and may well post future articles on some other points.  This is a daunting subject, actually because the List of diets is long.  For this post I’ll cover the following 3 points:

  1. Carbohydrate restriction as a prime mover in losing weight
  2. Compliance Bias – why even the worst diets will work for some people
  3. Lifestyle Change – what happens after you lose the weight

Carbohydrate Restriction

Most diets rely on carbohydrate restriction (a low carb diet component) to facilitate weight loss.  Of  course they vary in many ways, such as the source of food (the dieter cooks meals vs. the dieter receiving prepackaged meals), food categories (lower fat, lower carb, both lower fat and carbs), mentoring (group speak such as with Weight Watchers vs. individual dieting such as with Atkins).   Dr. Peter Attia, in his excellent article on the commonality between diets found that most are actually a low carb diet.  He states that the typical person not on a diet is eating 450 or more grams of carbs a day, so going on a typical diet of any sort is going to reduce that to 200 to 300 grams a day or less.  So, even though these diets operate in different ways and naturally appeal to different people, they are all using the same mechanism (carbohydrate restriction) to get off the weight.  An important distinction, at least in my opinion, is that the traditional low carb diets (such as Atkins) add a substantial proportion of dietary fats to the diet, making them easier to tolerate and, based on study results, more healthy.

Compliance Bias

Compliance Bias refers to the real advantage that some people have in adopting any diet.  These people are the health conscious, energetic types that tackle every project at full speed and adopt whole heartedly all the rules and nuances of a diet.  They execute the diet exactly as intended and generally get very good results.   In addition, they do other things to lose weight, such as exercise, to further improve their chances of success.  As pointed out by Gary Taubes in his article on Pseudoscience and Clinical Studies, this factor can lead to misleading clinical results.  He calls these dieters that execute well, Girl Scouts, and warns that clinical trials must make sure that when they compare different dietary approaches, they need to make sure they have an equivalent number of Girl Scouts following each approach to avoid incorrect findings.

Most of us aren’t running clinical diet trials so we needn’t worry about this, but we should pay attention to who may be telling us about what a wonderful diet they have had success with.  If they’re a Girl Scout, you can rest assured that they may have reported the same success with almost any diet.  Well, I’m not a Girl Scout so I had to be careful in picking the diet for me!

Lifestyle Change

The lifestyle change you foresee with a diet is extremely critical and is an important consideration with diet choice.  What I mean by lifestyle change is what happens after you finish your diet.  If you choose Jenny Craig, for example, which is a good diet, what happens when you quit buying your food from your local Jenny Craig counselor?  If you can envision developing your own skills as a cook and choosing restaurant food that is consistent with Jenny Craig, then you are going to be successful in maintaining your weight  after you make your last payment to Jenny Craig.

So take a look at your life after you quit a diet to make sure you can make it a lifestyle change you can realistically make.

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I'm here to help, so let me know if I can help with getting off of sugar or weight loss in any way. Contact me at Joe AT CravingSugar DOT net. If you like what you see here - Share It at the top of the post!!

Joe Lindley

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