Forget The 5:2 And The Atkins Diet: Here's How To Lose Weight Effectively

"Dieting is an obsessive business," says Clark Russell, "filled with false hope, humiliation, effort, self-consciousness, desire and to top it off, abject failure."

The author of e-book The Fat Loss Puzzle, wrote it in response to his sister’s chronic ill health as a result of failed multiple diets. They eventually led her to have gastric bypass surgery.

The premise is controversial, but if you have tried various diets and have found they haven't worked for you - to make the decision to not diet is somewhat a relief.

"The preoccupation with scales, counting calories, counting points keeps you in a dependent state, precluding you from ever developing a healthy relationship with food and realising the true pleasure of eating," he adds.

So why are diets so bad and how can you maintain or lose weight in any other fashion? We asked Clark for his top tips:

Why your diet hasn't worked until now


The mindset of the diet business is all about negativity; lose the weight, dump the fat, giving things up and controlling the fat demon.

Feeling guilty about the situation you find yourself in and the sense of deprivation that you need to endure in a futile attempt to rescue yourself from the despair and unhappiness with your body plays in to the hands of the diet companies; these feelings don’t achieve anything and sooner or later you’re going to rebel and the most obvious thing to do is binge as a way of asserting your mental freedom.

Root cause

The industry does not address the underlying causes of the upsets or unhappiness that lead you to reject your appearance and emotionally eat. Instead it tackles the symptom; your real or perceived extra pounds, the thing on which you’ve attributed your misery to.

Until you deal with the root of the problem, you will always find yourself in the cycle of weight gain, weight loss, then gain then loss…jumping from one plan to another believing this time will be different and even returning to your old haunts where you previously had some success albeit temporary; sound familiar?

Junk food is junk food

To make their diets more palatable, they lull people into a false sense of good nutrition, which negatively impacts hormones and neurotransmitters and damages gut flora as well as causing nutrient deficiencies, making you susceptible to cravings, overeating, weight rebound and the potential for many other health problems.

Diet foods including low fat foods and meal replacement shakes are also junk, but appear to be the opposite just because they may have a “health halo” attached to them.

Calories are king

Severe calorie restriction doesn’t work as concluded by Mann in a landmark study. When faced with a restricted calorie diet, your metabolism slows down to burn less calories as part of the metabolic adaptation mechanism.

In an attempt to preserve muscle and elevate metabolism, the right type and amount of exercise should be incorporated; the problem however is a lower propensity to exercise due to a behavioural adaptation; Redman et al.

Hence you won’t keep your metabolism stoked up and you will regain the weight eventually when you are forced off the diet when the sense of deprivation, lack of nutrition (most diets are laden with nutrient deficient junk), slower metabolism and lack of exercise all conspire against you.

The body when in chemical balance runs on a small calorie deficit naturally.

End game

Usually the main idea is to focus on losing the weight as quick as possible; just like a garden that has to be maintained to prevent overgrowth, the same holds true for your weight. The other problem is your gut flora, hormones and brain chemicals will have been imbalanced in the process, leading to weight regain when you eventually cave in.

What do we need to do differently from the mainstream diets?

Health needs to be the primary goal with weight loss as an added bonus.

• Eat nutrient dense foods (meats, fish and healthy fats) to improve gut health, hormone and neurotransmitter balance.

• Eat organic where possible and grass fed meats and dairy.

• Get your fibre mainly from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and NOT whole grains.

• Eat three meals a day, no snacking.

• Reset your leptin, a key weight loss hormone; I have a reset protocol in my eBook.

• Supplement with omega 3 fish oil, food state multivitamins, vitamin D and a probiotic.

• Eat probiotic foods.

• Avoiding foods you are intolerant to e.g. gluten, lactose.

• Avoid or limit inflammatory foods like refined vegetable oils, sugars, hydrogenated oils and fats, wheat and other grains,

processed foods.

• Practice intense, short duration exercise e.g. sprints and weights.

• Manage stress e.g. meditation.

• Get enough sleep.

• Avoid medicines which damage your gut flora.

• Drink alcohol in moderation, preferably red wines.

No end game

You have to look at the whole weight loss process as a journey; a journey that leads you to feel the way you may not have felt for years mentally and physically, that introduces you to foods and a style of eating that is enjoyable, healthy and fun to prepare.

The lure of quick weight loss programmes is strong and there is a temptation to "just get the weight off and then figure it out from there". Unless there is a permanent lifestyle change, you will suffer weight rebound.

The eBook The Fat Loss Puzzle has a more detailed lifestyle plan.