I have friends who have lost weight on the Sugarbusters diet; they seem to eat plenty & not exercise much. What is your evaluation of the popular Sugarbusters diet?
You can lose weight in two fundamental ways: Eat fewer calories and burn more calories. You can burn more calories by exercising and avoiding behaviors that slow down your metabolism, such as alcohol. There are three major ways of eating fewer calories:
Eat fewer calories by eating less food: Count calories, restrict portion sizes, etc. Sooner or later, most people get tired of feeling hungry and deprived, get off the diet, gain the weight back, and blame themselves for not having enough discipline or motivation or willpower — which is why most diets work in the short run but not in the long run. Also, when you restrict the amount of food you take in, then metabolic rate decreases as well because your body thinks you are starving. If you really are in a famine, then you want to burn calories more slowly, as this gives you a survival advantage. But if you are trying to lose weight, this can be frustrating.
Eat foods that are less dense in calories (i.e., lower fat) and higher in fiber (i.e., avoid sugar and other simple carbohydrates). When you eat less fat, you eat fewer calories without having to eat less food. As you know, fat has more than twice as many calories per serving as protein or carbohydrates. So, when you go from a high-fat to a low-fat diet, even if you eat the same amount of food, you consume fewer calories without feeling hungry and deprived. Also, because the food is high in fiber, you get full before you consume too many calories. You can eat whenever you’re hungry and still lose weight. And because you are not restricting the amount of food you eat, metabolic rate does not decrease.
Eat less sugar. When you eat a lot of sugar and other simple carbohydrates, you consume a lot of calories without feeling full. Also, you provoke an insulin response which helps convert those calories into fat. However, a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates doesn’t cause a spike in blood glucose because the fiber slows the rate of absorption. And the fiber fills you up before you get too many calories. You can only eat so many apples or pears before you get full, but you can consume virtually unlimited amounts of sugar without feeling full. This is the basis of the Sugarbusters diet, but it is only one of several factors that affect your weight.
To me, the real issue is not only losing weight but also enhancing health. When you go from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet, there is a double benefit: reducing the intake of disease-promoting substances (cholesterol, saturated fat, oxidants) and increasing the intake of disease-protecting substances (phytochemicals, bioflavinoids, retinols, isoflavones, etc.).
Also, it is not all or nothing. People often confuse the reversing heart disease diet, which is strict (because that’s what it takes to reverse heart disease) with the weight loss diet, which can be more moderate. To the degree you move in that direction, there is a corresponding decrease in weight. How much change you want to make is a personal decision.