Best Weight – BookPosted: Aug 11 in Medical Weight Loss News, Reading List by Dr. Lazarus
Every once in a while a book comes along that really revolutionizes the way we think about diet, weight loss, nutrition, or life-long weight control. Many of these examples are on our reading list. Atkins introduced the thought of higher protein, lower carbs. South Beach introduced the idea of healthy fats and healthy carbs, and also the glycemic index. Mindless Eating explored the idea that the environment impacts our eating behaviors subconsciously. Volumetrics defined the “calorie density” of foods and introduced the concept of choosing foods with a lower energy density while at the same time eating more, not less.
For the holidays this year, I was very excited to receive not 1, not 2, but 6 new books on the subject of diet and weight loss. Over the summer, I’ve finally pulled my nose out of medical journals and started reading through my new books. Recommended by a lecturer at the Obesity Society Conference last fall, I decided to take a look at “Best Weight” by Arya Sharma MD and Yoni Freedhoff MD.
What a pleasant surprise! I must say I was shocked at how good this book was. It is only 100 pages long, but it is easily the best 100 pages I’ve read in a very long time. While intended for clinicians getting started in a medical weight management practice (like CNC), the pearls in this book are worth their weight in gold to the individual trying to learn more about life-long weight control. I started typing notes as I went, pearls I’d be able to take with me back to the practice. But I ended up re-typing nearly the entire book.
In coming newsletters, I’ll try and start sharing many of these pearls. But the fundamental concept of the book is that for each individual, there exists a “Best Weight.” This is NOT the lowest weight we can achieve through rigorous diet and exercise planning. Rather, this is the “Best Weight” we can achieve with the healthiest diet we can enjoy and the amount of exercise we can enjoy. If we don’t enjoy our lifestyle, the results will be short-lived, only until we revert back to the lifestyle we enjoy. For example, he states that there should be no “forbidden foods.” If an individual loves chocolate, we can’t tell that individual that to achieve meaningful weight loss, they will need to give up chocolate altogether. Rather, we should instruct the individual to eat chocolate, but eat the minimum amount that will be required for them to be happy. The challenge is to find a lifestyle we enjoy that leads to a meaningful weight loss and significant medical benefits.
Pearl #1: Emotional Eating vs. Physical Hunger
Physical hunger happens when we don’t keep up with our food needs and skip meals. Our stomachs release a hormone called grehlin which signals our brains that it is time to eat right now. We feel our stomachs grumbling, and this is a very strong biological force leading us to get food. Emotional hunger, on the other hand, deals with all of the other reasons we eat – we eat because we like it, because it makes us feel good. Instead of calling this emotional eating, the authors prefer the term appetite. When we are physically hungry, any food we can find will be satisfying. But when eating for appetite, steamed broccoli just never seams to do the trick. “Wow I’ve had a rough day. I could really go for some broccoli!” Why is this? In fact, there appears to be a biological basis for why we reach for high fat foods when eating for appetite. If we are physically hungry, anything going in to the stomach quells hunger, quells grehlin. But when we have appetite, the high fat foods will provide an almost immediate release of Seratonin, a neurotransmitter in our brains that can improve depression and anxiety. So, we reach for “Ben & Jerrys” and have an immediate sense of relief, of feeling better. The stress of the day is left behind us. The problem is compounded if we’ve skipped meals. Certainly physical grehlin-mediated hunger will trigger a much greater and harder to resist appetite response. So, two good approaches are:
- Eat regularly through out the day (at least 5 times in the day, protein with each meal or snack, at least 300 calories for meals and at least 150 for snacks) to suppress grehlin, and
- Find other stress relievers for late in the day – reading, yoga, going for a walk, art, music – other activities that will provide the same type of Seratonin release in place of the fatty food snacks.
The discussion includes looking at the medical situation – optimizing for weight control (something I do an awful lot of), real ways to make changes in our diet and activity programs, the use of various medication options for weight loss, new thinking in behavior modification, and even a review of surgical options.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Watch for “pearls” in future newsletters…