New York Times Debating Best Diet To Lose Weight

After fifty years of expertise in treating overweight and obese people, I am still appalled to read that cardiologists, endocrinologists and other professional researchers, and world-renowned publications such as the New York Times are still debating which is the best diet to lose weight and maintain the weight lost.

Evidence-based research has shown us that when you eat less calories than your body needs (whatever name you give to the diet) you lose weight.

The real question is not about the best diet to lose weight but why; why most people after losing weight will regain some or even more weight that they have just lost?

The answer is not about the diet.

It’s important to note that medically all diets are not equal. You may lose weight but it does not mean that it is healthy in the long run. You may lose muscle, slow down your metabolic rate, lack the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs.

Research over the past seventy five years has shown that too much of something is not good, as well as not enough is not healthy. Research has also shown the importance of protein, especially during the weight loss phase, and also the importance of a lower consumption of carbohydrates and fat.

But NO diet will cure obesity forever.

The answer to curing obesity lies within treating human behaviour on a day-to-day basis.

As long as these professionals continue to ignore that human beings constitute not only a body but also a mind, they will keep debating about what we should eat. Are we only a digestive tube? This body/mind connection does not seem to exist in the medical field. I understand that it is not easy to measure but that does not excuse it’s absence from rational debate on the subject of obesity.

I was part of a group of researchers from McGill University who published in Cell Metabolism, January 2019, an important scientific journal, the result of our study on this body/mind relationship: Neurocognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Voluntary Weight Loss in Humans.

We tested the hypothesis that hormonal adaptations during dieting override eating self-control. We found the opposite that brain activity in cognitive control regions (using functional MRI), rather than hormones associated with energy balance, plays a critical role in weight loss. 

These cognitive regions relate to our thoughts, motivation and emotions.

For the last forty years, I have been using The Mental Weight 12-minute behaviour evaluation on a monthly basis to assess the real physiological and psychological causes of overweight and obesity and their evolution over time using behaviour change and stress management tools. 

As I have repeatedly seen with all diet programmes, success is only ever short-term. To succeed long-term, you must identify and address the habits, behaviours and emotions at the root cause of the weight problem. As I said above, the answer to curing obesity lies within treating human behaviour on a day-to-day basis.

My one wish: for all medical professionals (and the New York Times) to take on board the importance of the body/mind connection; that is the true starting point from which they can both understand and deal with obesity.

Maurice Larocque MD

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