10 Diet Rules to Lose Weight

By Dr. Panchajanya Paul, MD

With the coming holidays, there will be feasting and weight gain. Many are struggling to lose weight and wonder why it is so hard to lose weight? Obesity has become a pandemic and the biggest killer of humans. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, cancer, arthritis, depression, and a plethora of metabolic and hormonal problems. To lose weight, we need to understand, the metabolic process that leads to weight gain in the first place.

Humans evolved from primates, and for most of human evolution, food supply was irregular. Thus, humans like other wild animals have the propensity to eat as much as they can and store the excess calories as fat to be used as food during a famine, and as heat during the winters. In modern times, we have a constant food supply; we never get a chance to use the fat as fuel. And, neither we get a chance to burn the fat as heat as we stay in heated indoors during winter.

Obesity is a process by which the body stores the excess glucose from the food as fat, and over time these excess fats accumulate around our organs, skin, and tissues leading to weight gain. The hormone insulin mediates the final pathway of fat deposition. Insulin is the primary anabolic hormone, and it sends the glucose into the cells for use and storage. The hormone insulin is responsible for fat accumulation, and the best strategy of losing weight is keeping the baseline insulin levels low.

Here are some diet rules which will keep the blood insulin levels low, and result in weight loss as popularized by Dr. Jason Fung in his book- 'The Obesity Code':

1. Avoid Snacks: When we eat and how many times we eat is as important as what we eat. If we eat throughout the day, the insulin levels remain elevated. The body always stays in an energy conservation mode, and never gets a chance to burn fat. Eat no more than 2 to 3 times day like people in ancient and medieval ages used to do. Eating snacks between the meals is a recent phenomenon popularized by the food industry to sell their processed products. The period when we eat called feasting has to be balanced with the period; we don't eat called fasting. Weight gain will happen if feasting time exceeds the fasting time.

2. Limit carbohydrates: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat, constitutes the three macronutrients. The breakdown of carbohydrates in glucose, the breakdown of proteins is amino acids, and the breakdown of fats is ketones. Both glucose and amino acids can raise insulin levels. Thus, excess carbohydrates in the form of pasta, bread, sugar will cause weight gain. Similarly, excess animal products like lean meat, egg whites will also raise insulin and cause weight gain. But the biggest culprit for obesity is the refined carbohydrates. The polished grains like wheat, rice, corn have a very high glycemic index, that is they release a large amount of glucose in the blood. The high glucose triggers high insulin levels which over time leads to insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes.

3. Eat Fat: Fat has been vilified for the last 50 years. But nothing can be further from the truth. All long-term studies like the Framingham trials, the nurse's study, and the women's health initiative- failed to show a connection between dietary fat and weight gain. On the contrary, consumption of natural fat leads to weight loss. The breakdown product of fat is ketones, which does not raise the insulin levels. And fat consumption stimulates the satiety center, and we feel full earlier. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut, olive, palm, grass-fed butter, and ghee will not raise insulin level and assist in weight loss.

4. Early dinner & late breakfast: Every day we undergo periods of eating and fasting. Try to have your dinner early, and do not eat anything after 7 PM. Then delay your breakfast, and if possible, skip it. Have a direct lunch. This gap in eating will give your body a fasting period of around 17 hours daily. The body will be forced to utilize the stored fat during this period for energy as there is no instant glucose from food.

5. Contrary to popular myth- breakfast is neither essential nor necessary. For reasons unknown, the later we eat our food, the more is the insulin response and more storage. For example, 200 calories from bread have more chance to be stored as fat when eaten as 10 PM compared to if consumed as 5 PM.

6. Fasting: For rapid weight loss, fasting is beneficial. A short fast for 24 to 36-hour fasting can jump-start the weight loss process. Longer fasts are more effective than shorter fasts, but one has to be careful about fluids and electrolytes intake. Fasting is effective for weight loss because it provides a solution to the primary reason for fat storage- provide food during famines. Fasts are like artificial periods of famine that we subject our bodies to shred the excess fat. Also, during fasting we release growth hormone and cortisol which facilitates fat loss. Intermittent fasting is a popular option where you only eat during a 6 to 8-hour period, and fast the rest of the time.

7. Eat Fiber: Modern diet is rich in processed food, and low in fiber. In the earlier times, humans used to consume around 100 grams of fiber daily and had two bowel movements. Now the fiber content has dropped, and this has been a significant cause of obesity. Fibers are filling and contain minimal calories. They help us reach satiety earlier. Fibers also make sure that food does not stay in our colon too long, and pass it out through bowel movement. Fibers provide food for the healthy bacteria in our gut called probiotics. Fibers also delay the glucose spike. Dietary fibers are the reason one can never get obese eating apples and carrots.

8. Vinegar & lemon Juice: Acidic juices in vinegar keeps the blood glucose down. The Mediterranean diet touted for its health benefits uses copious amounts of vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is a healthy option. Also, freshly squeezed lemon juice, grapefruits juice, and other citrus keep blood glucose low. They also aid in digestion by providing the required acidity and ph-balance. Drink diluted vinegar or lemon juice in water after each meal to keep the blood sugar low.

9. Avoid Sugar: Sugar is an antinutrient and a toxin to the human health. Sugar impairs cellular function and is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes. Cane sugar is bad. But even worse is the high fructose corn syrup. The artificial sweets bypass our satiety center. For example, at the end of a sumptuous buffet, we have no space in our stomach for an extra piece of meat or bread. But we always have that extra room for a sweet dessert. Sugar provides no nutrient and is highly addictive.

10. Avoid processed food: Processed food is chemically engineered to overwhelm our taste buds. Once you consume fast food/junk food which is full of sugar, salt, and oil- natural, healthy food will appear bland and unsavory. This is big problem parents face when they try to motivate their children to eat healthy stuff. Once we switch to natural, healthy food, it is difficult for the first three months, after that, your taste buds will adjust, and healthy food will appear tasty.

11. Raw Food: Increase consumption of raw food. Cooked food is inflammatory. Ideally, one-third of our food would come from raw sources. Raw food is alive and fills with vitamins and enzymes many of which otherwise get destroyed in the cooking process. Good raw options are vegetables like pepper, carrots, cucumber, salads. Any seasonal fruits are OK, but high sugary fruits like mangoes, melons, and bananas should be limited. Other good raw sources are fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles which also provides probiotics. Sprouts are loaded with nutrients, and will raw nuts make delicious, healthy snack options.


Dr. Panchajanya 'Panch' Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA - is an American Board certified - Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine; University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. Call 7704541252 or email georgiapsychiatry@gmail.com to schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul at Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.