Dr Nick Fuller has described weight loss as a “cultural obsession” — yet despite that obsession, most of us struggle to lose weight then keep it off.
Two-thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese, and the numbers are climbing despite the literally thousands of diet books and weight-loss how-tos on the market.
Fuller, an obesity researcher at the University of Sydney, argues there’s a straightforward reason for that: traditional dieting fights against human biology, which is why it’s “doomed from the start”. He advocates a different method: interval weight loss, outlined in his book of the same name and its follow-up.
These are five of the weight-loss questions he’s asked most often.
I can’t lose weight because I have bad genes or I’m big boned. What do I do?
Our genes have not changed over time and they are not the reason for the increase in waistlines we see today. Genes contribute less than 3 percemt of the prevalence of obesity and regardless of what genes you think you have, you can lose weight just as easy as the person next to you.
However, years or decades of abuse on the body, in the form of dieting, will see it slow down — sluggish metabolism — and consequently your body will become very good at defending itself against weight loss. So you can blame your previous diet attempts, but you can’t blame your genes.
How do I lose 5kg by next week?
That’s the easy part. Any of those crazy diets, especially any sort of fast or detox where you starve yourself of nutrition, will result in the 5kg weight loss in a week. But the week after will only see you stacking 6 kg back on.
As soon as you lose weight, your body will start to work differently to defend its “set point” – the weight you will remember being at for a long period of time.
We have discovered through our research that there are a range of biological protections that kick into gear when you impose a stress on the body, such as dieting, so despite all your good intentions, you are doomed for failure the minute you begin.
The only way to overcome these biological protections and prevent your metabolism lowering and your appetite hormones changing telling you to eat more, is to follow an evidence-based Interval Weight Loss plan. This plan gets a person to impose diet breaks along the way, to ensure their body adjusts to the new lowered set point at intervals along the way.
Which diet is better – keto, 5:2, Atkins, or paleo?
There is a reason why all of these diets have been objectively ranked in the bottom 10 diets for both 2018 and 2019 in the US News and World Report – they lack the science to support their bold claims and they aren’t safe or nutritionally balanced.
We all hear of people’s short-term successes on diets, but these same people never talk about the long-term result where they end up fatter than before they began. No diets address our “set point” – the weight our biology will always protect.
Worse still, by following these diets you are putting yourself at serious long-term health risk — for example, cutting whole grain carbs will increase your risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Isn’t fruit bad for me because it contains sugar?
The whole sugar-free message is confusing and not based on scientific evidence — it’s all “anecdata”.
Generally speaking, advocates for sugar-free diets say to avoid table sugar, some natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, sweets, condiments, soft drinks and a selection of fruits — an arbitrary list of foods to avoid which has no substance to its claim.
Many of these foods that are blacklisted on sugar-free diets contain naturally occurring sugars, such as fruit. These foods are protective for our health — they prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, and should be part of your daily eating plan.
So, despite what you’ve been told, bananas, potatoes or any variety of fruits or vegetables won’t make you fat. They are key weapons in your weight-loss arsenal.
Is organic better for my health?
Don’t waste your time with anything labelled “organic”.
Organic farmers and food producers are supposed to grow food without using synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and artificial fertilisers. But, as a matter of fact, there is no regulation on the use of the word “organic” in Australia. Anyone can slap the term on their food and you just have to trust the seller that they’re not telling you little white lies. Even packaged foods such as muesli bars can have ‘organic’ on their labelling but mislead you by containing both ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ ingredients.
Organic food is double the price point of conventional produce, so save yourself the cost and focus on just including more fruit and vegetables in your eating plan. The only way to know you’re buying organic is by getting a food that is “certified organic” – these companies have paid to have their foods tested by a third party.
Go here for more questions health experts are asked all the time.