You would think that the more I study nutrition, the more answers I would have. After reading yet another book, Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat ... And What to Do About It," I am back to searching for the "truth" about weight-loss and nutrition.
This reminds me of when I was a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). T. Colin Campbell, author of "The China Study," would present well-researched and verified facts about how a vegetarian diet is best and animal protein makes us sick. Then, Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation would present researched and verified facts on the importance of animal protein. One day, I'm eating organic kale and spinach; the next I'm buying butter and lard in bulk.
Then David Wolfe would have us all convinced that a raw food vegan diet was the way to go. Just after I forked out five hundred bucks for a blender, an expert in traditional Chinese Medicine would explain that eating only raw food kills our digestive fire and often leaves us feeling cold and damp. So much for having a blue-green algae smoothie for dinner.
You've probably told most of your life that if you want to lose weight you have to eat less. But in a previous column, I listed five reasons why eating more helps you lose weight. I had been drinking the vegetarian Kool-Aid, but when I put on some weight and read Taubes' book, I cut my carbohydrates, including fruit (which I still have mixed feelings about) to almost nil and started snacking on pepperoni. In three weeks, I'm back down to one chin.
Where the heck does this leave us in our search for the truth?
Good luck finding the truth. If, however, you're on a search for your truth, you'll find your way. It may take a lot of trial and error, but if you're committed to experimenting and listening to yourself (even if it means ignoring the advice of doctors, gurus and authors), you'll find what works for you.
Prepare yourself for the bombshell I'm about to drop in you, something the gurus, doctors and best-selling authors won't tell you.
Brace yourself for this out-of-the-box, revolutionary idea.
Everyone is different. What worked for them may not work for you.
Fine, maybe it's not so revolutionary and so downright obvious that it's hardly worth stating. Perhaps that also explains why it's so frequently ignored.
We accept that a majority of people of Asian and African heritage are lactose tolerant, so why do we stop there and assume we also digest fruit, grains and animal protein the same? Or that our bodies respond to exercise the same way? While Peter J. D'Adamo has received some acclaim for "Eat Right 4 Your Type," his assertion that our blood type determines what we should eat, he's frequently trashed by nutrition experts.
Right or wrong, at least D'Adamo points out what should be so obvious. Different people handle just about everything differently.
Case in point, coffee. Bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola officially changed his stance on coffee last month and explains why the pros outweigh the cons. Many bodybuilders swear by it as a great way to ramp up the metabolism before a workout. Yet other experts, including Dr. Mark Hyman, another bestselling author, point out that, "The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation and this makes you feel lousy."
Lucas Rockwood of Yoga Body Naturals, does what few other "experts" do by shedding light on our differences. He writes that some of us have the "coffee gene" called CYP1A2. It explains why some people can drink a double espresso and go right to sleep and others will be wrecked with one cup at noon. But did you "really" need an expert to tell you that? All you have to do is pay attention and listen to your body to know what works.
Personal experience is the only expert.
That is your truth.
-- Greg Dinkin is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the author of three books including The Poker MBA. He explains in his TED talk how he used the power of both mind and body to lose 100 pounds.