spagetti-1008867_1920When you want to lose weight, a very low-calorie diet often seems to be the most attractive approach. After all, the faster you lose weight the better, right? Not a chance. Low calorie diets, especially those under 1200 calories a day are at best short-lived attempts at dieting, and at worst recipes for long term health problems.

I’ve never been a fan of calorie restriction because 99% of people do it wrong and it carries a 95% failure rate. Most people give little thought to optimum nutrition intake when restricting calories, which is crucial for good health. So off they head to the supermarket to fill their cart full of refined and nutritionally depleted “diet” foods.

The problem is that low calorie and nutrient sparse foods are a double health hit because they trigger a “starvation response,” as your body realizes it’s not getting enough energy and starts to preserve its fat supply by burning fewer calories. When we consider that the body needs nutrients to be healthy, this response is not surprising.

So although such a diet can result in weight loss in the first few weeks, it can also break down a lot of muscle tissue, which has a knock-on effect of reducing the basal metabolic rate. Eventually, as you go back to eating normally, the body refuses to optimally burn calories due to lean muscle loss. Welcome to the vicious cycle of dieting and weight gain. Although you might only end up gaining back the original weight you lost, you will end up with more body fat. Then, when you embark on another diet, you plunge further into lean muscle tissue loss.

So, what is the solution to permanent weight loss? To lose weight effectively, you need a sensible balance of healthy diet and regular physical activity, which is more effective in achieving permanent weight loss than low-calorie diets.

Wholesome foods also naturally contain fewer calories and pack a serious nutrient punch so that your body is receiving all that it needs to function at its best. My own recommendations include 2-3 daily servings (palm size) of whole grains, 2-3 servings of fruit, 6 servings of vegetables, 2 dairy, 2-3 lean meats and beans and 2 servings of fat. This is achieved through 5 small daily meals, giving you about 25 grams of daily fibre, healthy fats, reduced energy intake (as most people eat too many carbohydrates) and the daily nutrients the body needs. Beans are an amazing source of fibre and should be included in soups, stews, salads and other recipes. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

The point is to get your recommended intakes of key nutrients while not taking in excess calories or energy foods such as grains, starches or sugars. Anyone looking for an amazingly simple, yet highly effective way to alkalize the body, prevent most chronic diseases, lose weight and potentially increase life span should seriously think about putting these points into action.