A few facts for the guidance of the
abused, confused, fat and unfit public.

Unless you are fortunate enough to live near a University or Institute where they have a good collection of nutrition journals in the library, and have enough time to browse there on a regular basis, most of your knowledge of nutrition will come from the printed media (magazines, newspapers) and the numerous advertisements and "paid" programmes on the television & radio!

Be wary!

The media reports "news"; unless it is sensational or sexy enough to grab you, it is not "news", and in the search to make it glamorous, the truth often becomes vague or even disappears. Likewise the "paid" programmes; these people are trying to sell you something. If they tell you that this or that chromium compound will turn your fat into muscle, and refer to a study that sounds scientific, you will be tempted to invest your money in a pill that renders all previous diet pills obselete. However, they may have omitted to tell you that their study was published in a journal that has no peer-review procedure, and that 99 other studies by independent competent scientists showed that the said pill actually turns carbohydrate into fat!
In short, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! So before you fall into the trap, make sure there is scientific evidence, make sure you see it, and find out whether there are conflicting scientific opinions about it.

It's your body, and it is the most valuable piece of equipment you will ever own, so look after it and don't abuse it by subjecting it to dubious or hazardous nutritional procedures.

Want to lose weight?

The bottom line is that one lb of excess weight is worth 3,400 kilocalories (sometimes called Calories), which is about 50% more than you would or should consume per day. To lose that pound, you have to make sure your body is expending (burning off) more Calories than you are consuming. For example, you can cut your food intake down, or increase your energy expenditure without eating more, and by the time you have drawn on your fat reserves to make up the 3,400 Calories that are missing, you will have lost the one pound. Of course, there are a few rules, if you want to do it without any danger, and we will get to those shortly, but think about this: If you need 2,200 Calories per day to maintain your weight and provide the energy for all your activities, then a simple calculation reveals that even if you eat nothing at all for a week, you will only lose 4.5 pounds! Actually, the scales will go down more during the first week, but that is because you will also lose a lot of water, not necessarily a good thing, and in the second week, assuming that you have the willpower to continue, you will lose a lot less than the 4.5 pounds, because your body adapts to this time of starvation.

Does that make you wonder about these advertisements that guarantee you a weight loss of 30 pounds in a month, without changing your eating habits?

What about the rules? They depend on how you want to do it. If you decide that you want to eat less, don't even think about just cutting down the quantities of food you are eating unless you also change the composition; it is no coincidence that about 2,200 Calories per day of a sensible mixed diet provides all the protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids you need to maintain good health. If you just halve the amount you eat, you will develop some unpleasant deficiencies!

If you cut down on Calories, your protein requirement goes up, and if you do not allow for this, you will start losing "lean body mass", which is protein from muscles and vital organs. So you have to consume more protein, and the rule of thumb until you get down to 1,000 Calories per day is an extra gram of protein for each 40 Calories less that you consume. Once you go below the 1,000 mark, your protein requirement goes up even more, and special rules apply.

The most important reason for keeping your protein intake in the right range is to prevent that loss of lean body mass. Losing muscle will make you weaker, and you may never regain it, so you can do permanent damage to yourself! However, there are a couple of other benefits that are worth having. The first is that protein is thermogenic.

Thermogenesis needs an explanation. The word means "production of heat", and heat is, of course, just one form of energy. In simple terms, when you eat food, your metabolic rate increases to make the digestion, absorption and metabolism of that food more efficient. All "macronutrients" (protein, carbohydrate and fat) cause thermogenesis, but the effect is greatest with protein. Other constituents of food, and some Dietary Supplements (herbs), are also thermogenic. For example, you may feel warm after a cup of coffee or tea; the caffeine is thermogenic. Other thermogenic substances include alcohol, nicotine and a few spices, as well as some herbs (of which more later), and exercise is a thermogenic activity.
So protein can boost energy production in your body, and by increasing your metabolic rate, it can increase your energy requirement, increasing the gap between "Calories In" and "Calories Out". The consequence is a better rate of weight loss.
Muscle is, of course, a major site of thermogenesis, so if you start losing lean body mass, your thermogenic response also decreases. This is another reason for making sure that you get enough protein. On bad diets, without enough protein, the metabolic rate actually falls, so rates of weight loss can decrease, sometimes to zero. This happens most often in those who are seriously overweight, and who may stop losing weight even on diets of only a few hundred Calories per day.

Another good reason for eating enough protein is that you need the essential amino acids (EAAs) it contains. Protein is composed of amino acids, some of which cannot be made in the body, and these latter are thus essential in the diet. The body uses EAAs to make substances called neurotransmitters, which keep your brain and nervous system functioning. The amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, for example, are converted into catecholamines, which play a key role in thermogenesis as well as helping transmit messages around the nervous system. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin, which controls mood and satiety (the sensation of "feeling full"), so getting enough of these EAAs is very important to those who are trying to lose weight.

There are other reasons for having enough protein, one of which is the "anabolic" effect; protein stimulates release of substances which help amino acids pass into cells (including muscle cells), so that with even moderate exercise, the pieces are in place for healthy muscle growth. This also applies to those who are not trying to lose weight, but want to build muscle.

The good low-calorie diet therefore provides an adequate amount of protein. It must also contain some fat, and this must be fat of the right type. If you do not get enough essential fatty acids (EFAs), then many of your bodily functions will become sluggish and inefficient, and you may develop EFA deficiency. The results of EFA deficiency are very varied, but it has been linked to gallstones, skin disorders (dry skin, loss of hair), high blood lipid levels (increased cholesterol and triglyceride) and other serious problems. It has also been shown that an adequate EFA intake is required for optimal thermogenesis, so not getting enough fat of the right type will reduce or eliminate the effects of a weight loss diet.

The EFAs belong to two families, known as omega-6 and omega-3, and you need EFAs of both types, in the right proportions. The best conventional sources are soya bean oil and canola oil, which do contain both types and in good ratios. Corn oil and sunflower seed oil contain only omega-6 EFAs, while olive oil contains little of either. If you think your EFA intake is low, then you can always take specialty products containing oils such as borage seed oil or blackcurrant seed oil, which are good sources of a rare omega-6 EFA called gammalinolenic acid (GLA), and fish oils which are good sources of the unusual EFAs called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In some cases, these specialty products are preferred, because they bypass the metabolic block caused by the trans fatty acids in partially hydrogenated domestic oils.

As a general rule, try to keep your fat intake at about 30% of calories, divided equally between the saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, but you can reduce this if you are taking the specialty oils, since they are much more potent as EFAs. If you consume much in the way of partially hydrogenated oils, then you will have to compensate by increasing your intake of polyunsaturated fats, or taking the specialty oils, since the trans fatty acids in the partially hydrogenated oils block the metabolic conversion of the parent omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs and can cause an EFA deficiency!

Saturated fat is not a problem if you follow these guidelines. It only becomes a problem if you increase the proportion of saturated fat in the diet, since then you may not get enough EFAs. However, saturated fat has no intrinsic bad properties, and the body does require certain saturated fatty acids, such as palmitic acid (needed for thermogenesis as well as good functioning of the lungs). They can, of course, be made in the body, but it is more effective to get them from the diet.

No mention of carbohydrate? Some carbohydrate should be present in your diet, otherwise you will develop ketosis, which makes for bad breath, euphoria and occasionally disturbances of the delicate balance between acids and bases in the blood and tissue fluids. Some medically supervised very low calorie diets actually rely on ketosis to improve results, as does the Atkins diet, but you don't really need to become ketotic to lose weight effectively.
Complex carbohydrates are a little better for you than the simple sugars, since they are digested and absorbed more slowly (and, by making the body work harder, can increase the thermogenic response). You should also make sure you get enough dietary fibre, otherwise you may become constipated.
There are, of course, the unfortunates who suffer from what is popularly known as "carbohydrate craving". This is an imprecise description, and we do not really know what causes it. It may be possible to help such sufferers on a temporary basis with a so-called starch blocker, such as Carb-Blocker™, but this is purely a method of helping them over the initial problem. Long-term success in weight loss requires a causative approach and changes in eating behaviour. If it is necessary to block starch absorption for a few weeks in order to help such subjects get started, then use of starch blockers is justifiable, but the long term goal is to teach sensible eating habits that do not include carbohydrate binges!

Got it?

The good diet provides enough protein, an adequate amount of fat of the right type (and no partially hydrogenated oils), some carbohydrate, some dietary fibre, and last but not least, adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals (take a supplement at about 100% RDA level; no need to megadose, and it could be harmful).

So what if you don't want to diet formally, but still want to lose weight? Then you can take a thermogenic herb supplement, particularly those containing Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) such as Somatherm™, ThermoCaps® or ThermoTea®. Bitter Orange works somewhat differently from Ephedra, and is very much safer, but as with any Dietary Supplement, read the directions for use carefully first. If you continue to eat the same amount as before, then you will develop a negative energy balance (using more Calories than you consume) because the Bitter Orange will increase your metabolic rate, and also increase the breakdown of stored fat. Therefore you will lose weight.

Based on studies of Citrus aurantium and other thermogenic substances, your metabolic rate can be increased by anywhere from 8% to 20%, which is about the same as going on a mild diet, and should give a weight loss in the average person of up to one pound per week. It may not sound like a lot, but every little helps, and if you only had a few pounds to lose it would be the method of choice; no weighing and watching, no major lifestyle change!

Of course . . . . you could combine the Citrus aurantium with the mild diet and increase the effect substantially! The combination of Citrus aurantium with a diet corresponding to our guidelines would be unbeatable!
Putting it all together; some practical tips!

Now you know the rules, but you don't know how to start! Maybe the following informal diet plan will help (for a more formal approach, look at the ThermoDiet®):
1. Look at what you normally eat; upsize the serving of "protein" food (fish, chicken, meat, some beans) and reduce the serving size of the carbohydrate portions by half. Double up on low-calorie leafy vegetables. This instantly gives you a greater thermogenic benefit from protein, and reduces the negative effect of the carbohydrate. The increased leafy vegetable servings should bring you up to a decent fibre intake.
2. Make sure you get enough fat, of the right type, and avoid trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated oils) like the plague! You can actually reduce your fat intake to about 15% of calories if you take a good specialty oil product containing both omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs, preferably Bari-EFA®, otherwise stay close to 30% of calories. Don't forget, you need omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs in the right proportions! Above all, if you do use the specialty oils and reduce the total fat intake, do NOT make up the difference with carbohydrate.
3. Take one of the thermogenic Dietary Supplements named above according to the instructions.
4. Take a multi-vitamin and mineral preparation (Bari-VIT®) each day. If you want to take it a step further, then replace a meal by a nutrition bar (Proti-Bar®) or a protein shake, drink or soup (Proti-15®, Proti_Max® or Nutri-15®), which will probably drop you a couple of hundred Calories and give you the necessary extra protein.
Finally, a word of advice. You have the metabolism of a vegetarian; thousands of years of eating meat has not changed that fact, and humans still lack many of the enzyme systems that carnivores and omnivores have. So back off the red meat a little and put more emphasis on fish (which fits our metabolic systems quite well) and high-protein nuts, seeds and legumes. If you really like your meat, go for chicken or pork rather than beef, but balance it out with fish or take the specialty EFA products to counteract the bad effects of the hidden fat in the meat (arachidonic acid).

There is also a word of caution; You may have been eating badly, and there could be consequences that CAN be avoided. For example, you probably do not know that during the first 2 - 3 weeks of weight loss, the fat released from your fat stores, in the form of fatty acids that travel throughout the body in the blood, can contain both trans fatty acids (from having eaten food containing partially hydrogenated domestic oils before starting the diet) and arachidonic acid (from the lean part of red meat). The trans fatty acids can block your metabolism of essential fatty acids (EFAs), so that your cholesterol goes up and your risk of gall bladder problems increases, while the arachidonic acid can increase your risk of thrombosis! In fact, studies have shown that heart attacks DO occur more frequently in those who have previously eaten unwisely and then start burning off fat, which is exactly what happens when you go on a diet.

If this applies to you, stop the bad things you are doing at least 2 weeks before you go on your diet, and start taking fairly large amounts of non-hydrogenated vegetable oil (soy or canola preferred), but without reducing your Calorie intake. You can also take one of the specialty oil products at the same time. The fat that you have stored is constantly being replaced, and by making sure that you only consume vegetable oil you will replace at least 50% of the bad fatty acids in your fat stores during that 2-week period.



- back to top -