What’s the right diet for you?

BBC Horizon’s programme ‘What’s the right diet for you’ this week claimed to put personalised dieting to the test by splitting people into three groups:

  1. Constant cravers – that have genes that increase risk for obesity
  2. Emotional eaters – who comfort eat in response to negative feelings
  3. Feasters – produce less of the hormone that tells you you’re full

1. The ‘constant cravers’ were taught to reframe all the ‘eat me’ messages that advertisers and packagers imbed in their displays as the food industry’s attempt to manipulate the individual. They also followed an intermittent fasting diet, which is one of the principles in my Burn Fat Fast approach. One of the reasons for this is that, while you can’t change the genes you’re born with you can turn them up or down and the best way to achieve this is to make less insulin. This you can achieve by either not eating, not eating carbs, or following a low GL diet, plus supplementing chromium which makes you more insulin sensitive so you make less.

2. The ‘emotional eaters’, who are much more likely to eat when stressed, often triggered by an unhealthy relationship with food based on past experiences. Emotional eaters followed a diet plan with group support and cognitive behavioural therapy. I cover emotional eating in my Low GL Diet approach but it is important to know that it isn’t a one way street. The general conception is that a psychological trigger brings on a negative emotional state which makes people eat more sweet foods, but a blood sugar dip can also bring on negative emotional states and make a person more reactive. That’s why I really focus on a low GL diet. A great example of this two way street is chromium. On the one hand we know it helps people lose weight, presumably by making insulin work better which evens out your blood sugar, but it also is a very effective mood elevator in emotional eaters. I would have given these people 2 x 200mcg of chromium.

3. The ‘feasters’ were apparently producing too little of a gut hormone that makes you feel full. One of the hottest areas of research is related to leptin, nick-named the appetite hormone. The purpose of leptin is to suppress your appetite when you are satisfied. Paradoxically, overweight people tend to have more circulating leptin than non-overweight people. However, the reason for this is that they become increasingly ‘leptin resistant’ and no longer respond to the hormone’s attempt to curb appetite, hence the body keeps producing more. It’s as if their body’s ‘appestat’ has stopped working so they keep eating.

The feasters were put on my kind of low GL diet – with a quarter of the plate as carbs, quarter protein, half vegetables – because these proportions, with a bit more protein and less carbs, help you feel fuller for longer. A very easy way to feel fuller and lose more weight is to have a teaspoon (3 capsules) of glucomannan fibre in or with a large glass of water before a meal. Try it. It really works.

In the first two weeks weight loss was looking good, at about 3lbs a week. But it slowed right down in week 3 and 4. Some felt more tired and tiredness leads to poor food choices because your resistances are down and you choose the wrong foods. The way to counter that is a) to take supplements every day such as one of my packs – it really increases your energy; and b) to eat little and often – 3 low GL meals, two low GL snacks and never skip breakfast. These are fundamental principles of my low GL diet.

By the end of the month they had lost an average of 9lbs each, or 2lbs a week. Since each group had a different diet, and psychological focus, it is hard to know what is doing what. Yet, overall, this is a good result. We took a similar group of 6 overweight people in Ireland and after 8 weeks on my low-GL diet the group had lost 6 stone and 5lbs overall, with the greatest individual weight loss being nearly 2 stone (1 stone 12lbs) – that’s over 3 pounds a week. Some individuals report losing 14lbs in a month with my low GL approach plus exercise. One man lost 7 stone (98lbs) in 7 months, another 9 stone (126lbs) in 10 months.

I did the Horizon programme’s test and came out as a ‘constant craver’ 41%, 37% emotional eater, 22% feaster. Theoretically I would have more genes for weight gain. I’m not sure if that is true but I do think that we are different and it is important to focus in on aspects of any diet that work best for you. Constant cravers, for example, would do well to eat little and often, choosing low GL snacks and meals, and filling up with glucomannan fibre before a meal.