A Whole Food Diet is the Best Way to Lose Weight

Lose Weight with Real Food Pic

This article was originally written for and posted in my column, The Fitness Corner, in The Macon Telegraph.

In my last column, I talked about how good and effective weight-loss programs have no shortcuts. Rather, they have the following characteristics:

  • The diet program is based on whole foods, not supplements, shakes or pills.
  • The exercise program is challenging but still realistic for your fitness level.

For this column, let’s talk a bit more about the diet aspect of good weight-loss programs.

So, why do I say that good weight-loss programs should be based on whole foods and not supplements? The short answer is this: Losing weight is not (or should not be) simply a matter of lowering your calorie consumption to get the scale number to go down.

Healthy weight loss happens when the calorie count is low in conjunction with consumption of high-quality food. As far as quality goes, whole foods will always be of a much higher quality than processed foods and supplements.

Let’s go a little further. I once heard a professor on National Public Radio discussing how he successfully lost 27 pounds on a 10-week “Twinkie” diet, seemingly proving that calories are all that matter with weight loss. What’s more, he actually experienced other health improvements, including lower cholesterol.

Here is the issue. We all know that our bodies require a wide variety of nutrients to function properly. Whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and high-quality meats contain everything we need in that regard.

I invite you now to look at the ingredients on a pack of Twinkies, preferably by a Google search and not by visiting the nearest snack machine. One only has to glance at the wrapper for a few seconds to see that Twinkies are only made to taste good. Yes, they are fortified with a few synthetic vitamins, but these are likely “cancelled out” by the hydrogenated oils (trans fats), food colorings and corn syrup, as well as the many other hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

If you eat a low calorie diet of Twinkies — or of any other processed food for that matter — you will indeed lose weight and may experience some other benefits of weight loss such as lower blood sugar and blood pressure, but you will very likely become diseased in the future as well. Such a diet is severely deficient in the nutrients that your body needs.

Is it worth it to lose weight if you get sick with it? I personally don’t think so.

As far as supplements are concerned, they could possibly be part of a good weight-loss program, but that’s it. Supplements should function as exactly what they are called. They can help you add more select nutrients to your diet that you are perhaps deficient in.

However, a diet that encourages the use of shakes, bars and such as total meal replacements is generally unrealistic. Such processed foods can never provide you with what your body needs in the long term, and they will result in temporary weight loss at best, since you can’t live on supplements forever.

The optimal diet for weight loss is one that is primarily based on non-starchy vegetables and fruits, and that also includes starchy vegetables, beans, whole grains and some animal foods. Such a diet is naturally low in calories and absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals.

The moral of the story is, if you want to lose weight in a healthy and permanent manner, don’t look for a “magic bullet.” Don’t look for a quick fix. Discipline yourself on a whole food diet and you won’t go wrong.

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