I wish I could swoop in like Superman and save people from opportunistic, profit-driven, misinformation-spewing diet sharks.
I know - you thought I were one of them. I’ll let you in on a little marketing secret: I chose the name “Ft. Collins Weight Loss & Nutrition” because that’s what people are Googling.
Allow me to tell you a bit about what diet sharks have to offer, why it’s ineffective, and how I’m different.
(Scroll to the bottom to read about the keto diet)
1. Calorie Restriction, Meal Replacements and Diets
If weight loss were as simple as calories-in versus calories-out I’d be out of business. A mounting body of research is proving that quality of foods is more important that quantity of calories. 100 calories of cookies affects your body differently than does 100 calories of avocado. Processed, multi-ingredient foods change your hormones and make you gain weight whereas unprocessed foods have the power to change your mood and hormones and heal your body.
Restricting calories puts your body and mind into a tailspin of confusion, slows your metabolism and ramps up cravings. This is the core problem that leads to yo-yo dieting.
I do not believe in calorie restriction. My mantra is “eat to lose.” My clients can hardly believe how quickly they shed fat without feeling deprived - while eating more calories and the appropriate calories for their body type - for some, this is even means high fat - how delicious!
Meal replacements: There is a time and a place for protein-rich shakes and bars but not as meal replacements. I occasionally suggest food-based protein powder medical foods for athletes, people dealing with chronic illnesses, vegans trying to boost protein, people with eating disorders or busy people who forget to eat. This is a temporary solution. Ultimately, I want my clients to eat real food.
Many popular meal replacements are pure sugar that will make you fat. Others have artificial sugars and toxins. Buyers beware!
2. Fancy Machines/Technology
I used to analyze every client’s body composition with a state-of-the-art bioelectrical impedance analysis machine (BIA) that analyzed fat mass, muscle mass, hydration status and more. As a data nerd, I loved that machine but soon realized that my patients had a hard enough relationship with the scale and BIA was was one more number to obsess about, one more number to make they feel like a failure. I’m more careful about using this and focus on non-scale, internal parameters of success.
Many weight loss clinics use high tech medical devices such as MRIs, dual-energy X-Rays, EKGs and ECGs. May I let you in on another industry secret? Medical devices means the doctor can bill insurance for these tests. This is another source of income for them. Is there a time and a place for these? Absolutely! For weight loss? I don’t think so. Ultimately, this testing is wasteful.
I believe there are safer, simpler, less invasive ways of measuring your starting point and your success. Instead of making you feel like a medical case, I use a scale, a tape measure and teach you how to listen to your intuitive sense of how healthy you feel.
3. Bariatric Surgery
I worked in a bariatric surgery center for 6 months during my internship. What I saw was traumatic and now I am 100% opposed to it (yes, even with the new gastric sleeve vs. bypass). Insurance regulations in the state in which I practiced required three things before they paid for this surgery:
(1) Patients were required to go through 6 months of medical weight loss to prove that they couldn’t lose weight on their own before they were eligible for surgery. They often did so under their surgeon’s care which is a blatant conflict of interest.
(2) Patients had to go through psychological evaluations to prove they could sustain change. This was another hoop to jump through to get surgery. I saw mentally retarded patients, patients with eating disorders and clinical-level body image issues approved for the surgery.
And you know what? These dear people had the same psychological struggles and more post surgery. The “success stories” still had body image issues. Their bodies were “fixed” (mutilated, in my opinion - countless long-term risks) but their emotions were the same. After surgery they had extra skin from the weight loss and still saw themselves as fat. They had to deal with socially awkward issues such as only eating 2 tablespoons of food at a time, vomiting and diarrhea if they overate to name a few.
The “not-so-successful” people still had body image issues. I saw dear people die from the surgery, or end up back in the hospital with complications from hair loss to dumping syndrome (diarrhea after eating) to full-blown malnutrition requiring TPN (being fed through their veins). I saw people learn how to cheat the surgery and gain back all the weight and more.
Not everyone who needs bariatric has an eating addiction, but some do. There is interesting research that if you take away one addiction, such as an eating addiction, and "fix" it with surgery, the patient transfers the addiction to something else, such as shopping or drinking alcohol. Food can be nurturing and can help us cope with emotions, but I challenge my patients to deal with their emotions through psychotherapy, Al-Anon, Guide for Living, etc.
(3) Patients had to have a BMI (body mass index) over 40 as well as a co-morbidity (which is another health problem related to obesity).
Should we ignore obesity related health issues? No! Weight loss can reverse diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more...this is the number one reason I do what I do – nutrition can heal people.
Weigh these benefits with the cost and risk of bariatric complications including but not limited to:
dumping syndrome (surprise diarrhea)
malnutrition (protein and/or macro/micronutrient)
fecal and urinary incontinence
TPN and J-Tube dependence
gaining back all the weight and the corresponding health problems
"But Al Roker did it," you might argue. Yes, and he pooped himself at the White House. Read his writings and realize that he graciously and authentically shares about his continual struggles with human feelings of shame and failure. Could there be less traumatic weight loss methodology?
The bottom line is that bariatric surgery is not a quick-fix and it the long term statistics are no better than any other method of dieting.
I don’t judge anyone who is interested in bariatric or anyone who has undergone bariatric. I respect some of my favorite clients who continue to fight for a healthy body and mind post bariatric. I am angered at the system not the client. Please know that I will always counsel you against this weight loss method.
Diet meds, be they prescription, over-the-counter or “natural” compounds generally work as appetite suppressants, stimulants, diuretics or by causing macronutrient (i.e. fat) malabsorption.
Appetite suppressants work as long as you stop eating when not hungry and take them indefinitely. Please realize that your liver does not appreciate drugs. Please know that you were born with an innate ability to regulate calories. Have you explored listening to your body instead of letting a drug override this instinct?
Stimulants have side effects. Ephedra killed many people and was taken off the market but it’s back in a related form. The weight loss industry uses caffeine. I don’t know about you but I get plenty of caffeine. Aren’t we stimulated enough? Overstimulation skyrockets cortisol, a stress hormone that makes your store more fat and damages your precious adrenals.
Diuretics make you lose water weight. You’d rather lose fat weight.
Fat malabsorption is so 1950s. Let’s once and for all agree that fats aren’t the enemy. There are good fats, essential for life, and there are not-so-good fats, man-made synthetic fats. Fats have concentrated calories but pooping them out unabsorbed doesn’t change your behaviors and can literally ruin your pants.
5. “Medical Weight Loss”
Aw, man, the industry is going to hate me! I’m going to tell you another one of their secrets: medical weight loss simply means that there is a prescribing practitioner overseeing the weight loss center. The practitioner does not have to work there - s/he can even live and practice miles away. When you think you sign up to have a physician work with you in a holistic manner, more likely you are having a physician order drugs for you at a distance, while they make money and you feel unsupported.
A “medical weight loss center” generally has a nutritionist who sells their own supplements and medical assistants who do the work of the doctor. You never see the doc. It is illegal for doctors to make money off prescription drugs, but they can make money off unregulated food and supplements. This is an equivalent, immoral conflict of interest. If I suggest a supplements or product that you can’t get online or at the health food store, I offer it at our cost so there is no bias in your treatment.
I believe that doctors are essential in health care. There can be underlying medical issues such as hormone imbalances that keep you from losing weight. When I see patients I continually screen for these issues, refer to them to holistic physicians and work closely with your physician. Beware of “medical weight loss."
True confessions: I used to run an hCG program for a local doctor. I even tried it myself 3 times. I wanted it to work! It worked for a number of people and I was convinced. Until I realized that it was the 500 calorie diet and intermittent fasting that was causing them to lose weight, not the hormone. Logically, if hGC causes fat burn, why is the 500 calorie diet necessary? How easily we are duped by the diet industry!
My clients on hCG were miserable, lost muscle, gained fat percentage and developed a messed-up relationship with food. Plus, then gained all the weight back.
The FDA has never recognized or approved hormonal hCG as a weight loss mechanism and now they have found that the homeopathic version is a sugar-water placebo. It is illegal for a label to claim to have hCG in it unless it is the real hormone prescribed by a physician. Even if the over-the-counter homeopathic versions had the hormone in it (also illegal to buy without a prescription) the hormone would be destroyed by your stomach acids rendering it useless.
Taking homeopathic hCG + a 500 calorie diet is starving yourself and there will be psychological and metabolic repercussions so beware. Instead of starving yourself, learn to feed yourself healthy foods that taste good and make you feel good. The diet industry has messed up our heads! Let's reclaim a healthy relationship with food and with our bodies.
6. Keto Diet
I have actually prescribed this diet for many years for people with seizure disorders, post concussion syndrome (or any traumatic brain injury), Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance, diabetes and PCOS. I am not opposed to keto as a therapeutic diet, but I don’t love it as a weight loss diet. Why not? Like any other diet, it doesn’t work long-term, it can mess up your relationship with food and it inhibits athletic perfomance.
Many see the keto diet as a quick weight loss cure. It is not necessarily quick or easy to get into ketosis, to lose weight in ketosis or to get out of ketosis. If you don’t slowly and carefully “reverse diet” out of keto or you will regain everything.
There are indications and contraindications for this diet. There are genes that bode well with this diet and genes that do not. There are ways to do keto well and ways to really harm yourself with keto. Please don’t go at this uneducated or without support. Reach out to Anne, our resident keto expert.
So what is the weight loss answer? You are. Call us and we will empower you, guide you past weight loss myths and barriers. We will be your support and cheerleaders as you take charge of your eating...naturally.
Ft. Collins Weight Loss does not push pills and does not believe in meal replacements. We believe that a healthy diet is the first and best way to get needed nutrients. That being said, we recognize that there is a time and a place for supplements and we offer supplements at our cost making them affordable and eliminating bias on our part. Consider supplementing if:
1. You are already spending the money on supplements.
Our average patient spends $150 per month on synthetic, harmful supplements from the grocery store. We teach you how to streamline your purchases and buy higher quality supplements for the same price or less. We suggest the bare minimum (usually a multivitamin/mineral and fish oil) and are honest about where to find the highest quality at the best price. Often we send our patients to Vitamin Cottage or Sprouts but we are partial to the food-based Standard Process or Nature's Sunshine herbs or Xymogen medical foods.
2. Your diet is less than optimal.
Many of our patient's diets are low in necessary nutrients and they need a boost to catch up.
3. Even if your diet is optimal, our soil is depleted of nutrients and you aren't getting as many nutrients as you think.
We like to think of supplements as insurance. Just in case we aren't getting enough from foods, we are getting an extra boost from supplements.
4. You have a medical condition that you would like to treat or reverse naturally.
For example, if you have Type 2 Diabetes and can’t stomach Metformin, Berberine has been clinically proven to be as effective without the GI side effects.
5. You have blood work proving medical need.
In this case, Ft Collins Weight Loss’ dietitian nutritionists suggests a dose and works closely with your primary care physician to monitor blood work and stop supplements when they are no longer needed.
Remember that supplements are never replacements for a healthy diet. Spending hundreds of dollars on supplements will not make up for a fast food habit.