Read time: 2 minutes
Diet books are great. They get the public spun up, and some introduce hypothesis to chase. It’s a good thing, and it’s a bad thing.
The latest and greatest is really nothing new. Diet books like this have been written for decades. Each new book spins into details the interaction between food and metabolism — you know, the really intricate stuff that takes you for a ride through the metabolic and hormonal “pathway” of overweight, disease, and fatness, and then offers you an alternative route to leanness.
Many of these books read intelligent, and they’re often written by intelligent authors.
The various diets all work for someone at some point, as these books tend to fly off the shelves, sometimes creating cult followings and becoming cultural phenomenons. But the point is that they all work, at least temporarily.
Too often, however, the premise of these books — the cause of overweight and obesity — ride on a single factor, even though the body of knowledge points to multiple variables.
While Pritikin points to fat as the culprit for overweight, the Inuits prove his premise untrue. While Atkins and Good Calories, Bad Calories suggest that carbohydrates are the problem, the Mediterranean diet, rich in grains and legumes, shows otherwise.
There are many ways to convince people that overweight and obesity are caused by this or by that, but in the end the cause is multifactoral: from culture to psychology, from genetics to environment, from behavior to social pressure, from food abundance to processed food, from heavy flavoring to food addiction, from boredom to habits, from environmental chemicals to lifestyle, from poor sleep pattern to chronic stress pattern, and from thoughts to feelings to motivation and other as-yet-unknown contributors.
You get the picture.
To blame it on one thing, or a single macronutrient, while ignoring evidence to other factors, is not so much wrong as it is incomplete. That alone makes it wrong.
In the end, possessing the attitude of a Dietary Us Against Them is perpetuating a failure in the fight against overweight and obesity.
Many diets work for different people while failing others — whether these diets are high-fat and low-carbs, or the other way around, or anywhere in between. Nothing is consistent enough to confidently say that one diet fits all.
The statistics show that, of those who lost weight, 17% successfully maintain this weight loss for long-term, yet their chosen dietary strategies vary widely and collectively they do not support any one dietary concept — not even the one suggested in a book as elaborate and ambitious as Good Calories, Bad Calories.
At the risk of claiming that diet alone causes overweight and obesity, the simplest starting place to address this modern-day issue is in changing eating habit: eat mostly wholesome, real food, and develop a habit of eating less. The other immediate contributors to long-term success are time, effort, and motivation.
Watch this great lecture about a study comparing long-term successes of diets, including a low-carb diet similar to the one touted as the solution to the obesity problem in so many modern pop diets. It’s long, but every minute is worth your time; you’ll gain a different insight into the multitude of diets available and the factors to their long-term success, or lack thereof.