What I Tell All My Patients About Losing Weight & Getting Healthy

Functional Medicine Doctor By Mark Hyman, M.D.
Functional Medicine Doctor
Dr. Mark Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.

Diets backfire because people restrict too much. They allow the number of calories they consume to drop below their resting metabolic rate, or the basic amount of energy or calories needed to run our metabolism for the day.

Eating less than your resting metabolic rate means you instantly perceive danger and turn on the alarm system that protects you from starvation and slows your metabolism. You go into starvation mode and eat until you inevitably stop the diet — the classic rebound weight gain.

Just think of what happens when you skip breakfast, work through lunch, and finally return home in the evening: you eat everything in sight.

Most people are reasonable and know they shouldn't overeat. Nonetheless, time after time, people repeat the same mistakes. They're not weak-willed, morally corrupt, or self-destructive. Instead, genetic programming leads us to overeat.

If you've been through a number of diets that have failed, your body has been through this process a number of times. In short, dieting makes you fat.

Ditching that diet mentality becomes crucial if you want to lose weight. You're embarking on a healthier way of eating, not a diet. After working with thousands of clients, I've found these seven strategies help lose weight and reduce your risk for diabesity:

1. Cut out the processed stuff and eat real, whole foods.

Eating as many real, whole, unprocessed foods in your diet as possible becomes your best strategy to lose weight and keep it off. Make a switch to whole, real unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, organic, range, or grass-fed animal products (poultry, lamb, beef, pork, eggs), and wild, smaller fish such as salmon.

2. Eat breakfast.

Skipping breakfast means you're eventually starving, and throughout the day you eat much more food than you need to feel full. To optimize health and weight loss, you need breakfast to spread your food intake evenly throughout the day, and not to eat for at least two hours before bed.

3. Eat mindfully.

Eating while we are stressed or distracted makes us fat, both because we don't digest our food properly and because stress hormones slow metabolism and promote belly fat storage. We also tend to overeat when we eat quickly, because it takes the stomach twenty minutes to signal the brain that we are full.

4. Record your thoughts.

Journaling to better metabolize your feelings so they don't end up driving unconscious choices or overeating. A diet of words and self-exploration often results in weight loss. You metabolize your life and calories better.

5. Get sufficient sleep.

Get eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night. You'll become less prone to cravings and normalize fat-regulating hormones. One study found even a partial night's sleep deprivation contributes to insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

6. Control stress levels.

Chronic stress makes us overeat, not to mention overeating the wrong kinds of food, which ultimately leads to weight gain. Learn to actively relax with meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or any other technique that helps you reduce stress.

7. Get moving, and make it enjoyable.

You can't exercise your way out of a bad diet, but the right exercise can help you lose weight, maintain weight loss, and control your appetite so you don't overeat. Ideally you should do a minimum of 30 minutes of walking every day. Get a pedometer to track your steps. Wear it every day and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Consider burst training for more intense, fat-burning exercise. Whatever you do, make it fun and you'll be more likely to stick with it.

What one strategy would you add to avoid the diet mentality and develop lasting weight loss? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

My new cookbook, The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook, will give you over 150 delicious, healthy, whole-food recipes that tastes so good, you will feel like you are cheating. Download my free 10-Day Detox Diet Starter Kit and get cooking today!

Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, M.D.
Dr. Mark Hyman believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to...
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