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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sheldon Bjorgaard, ND

What is the BEST diet for weight loss and blood sugar control?

What is the best diet for weight loss and blood sugar control?

Keto? South Beach? Ideal Protein? Carnivore? Paleo? Atkins?, [insert name of latest fad diet]?

How about none of the above.

In fact, any diet with a ‘brand name’ is one that you should be wary of. When I work with clients one of the first things we do is remove the word “diet” from the vocabulary completely. The reason for this is that study after study shows that DIETS DON’T WORK.

Let me explain.

They may “work” in the short term, if we define “work” simply as body weight reduction. In fact, some can cause significant weight loss in a short period of time. However, when we look at data from the vast majority of folks who have “dieted” in the past we see a strongly recurring theme: weight loss --> stalling --> progressive weight gain (i.e. the dreaded “rebound” effect). This is almost always accompanied by feelings of failure, guilt, shame, helplessness, depression, etc. Weight loss is not always healthy, and our focus should be on health first, not simply a number on a scale.

The bigger problem in my opinion is that after every diet “failure” the dieter themselves feel like they are the one who failed due to a lack of willpower or motivation. In reality, we should be blaming the diet itself for not working – because they don’t work for pretty much anyone!

Why? Because any diet that involves significantly restricting certain foods and even entire food groups will cause us to focus more on that very thing (cravings anyone??). If someone told you to stop thinking about elephants (yeah, you get the point😉).

Studies show that following conventional diets results in weight re-gain starting only a few months later, and in many cases resulting in a new weight set point that was higher than when the diet was started!

If this has been your experience, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are solutions.

The first step of the solution is to stop dieting, and ideally remove the word permanently from your vocabulary. What many people don’t realize is that there are many complex biological, psychological, and social factors that determine someone’s weight, and that for any meaningful long-term (ideally permanent) success they all need to be addressed. Frankly, giving someone a sheet of paper with a list of foods to eat and avoid is ignorant at best, and condescending at worst. Worse yet is the advice to “Just eat less and move more”.

Second, we need to assess the current nutritional pattern, looking for evidence of nutrient deficiencies, and fill them in by eating MORE! Yep, you heard that right. Of course, we want to focus on eating more nutrient dense foods that are lacking in the current daily nutrition intake. The main culprits I see in my practice are protein, essential fatty acids, and certain water-soluble vitamins and minerals.

Thirdly, we need to set a regular meal timing schedule to help improve insulin sensitivity (this may involve different types of intermittent fasting). The times a person eats are often as or more important that what they are eating.

The overarching principle is clear. A successful plan must be tailored to each individual rather than stock programs or fad diets which are unsustainable for the vast majority of the population. Individualized health care is the cornerstone of Naturopathic medicine, and is especially beneficial for those dealing with metabolic conditions like pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or any degree of insulin resistance resulting in weight gain or difficulty losing weight.

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