Losing weight has become a matter of life or death and counting calories, Weight Watcher points and fat grams hasn't lessened the numbers of people affected. In 2010, more than 25 percent of Americans had pre-diabetes and another 1.9 million got a diabetes diagnosis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The single most effective way for people to avoid the disease? Losing weight.
"The current obesity epidemic proves that the typical low-fat diet recommendations and low-calorie diets have not worked," says Don Ochs, inventor of Mobanu Integrated Weight Loss Solution (www.Mobanu.com), a physician-recommended system that tailors diet and exercise to an individual's fat-burning chemistry. "America is eating less fat per capita than we did 30 years ago, yet obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all up."
To drop the weight and keep it off, people need to get rid of their stored fat by eating fewer processed carbohydrates and the correct amount of protein, and by doing both high and low-intensity exercises, Ochs says.
Here are some of his suggestions for getting started:
•Eat what your ancestors ate – if it wasn't available 10,000 years ago, you don't need it now. Our bodies haven't had time to adapt to the huge increase in processed carbohydrates over the past 100 years. These refined carbs kick up our blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin production, which results in fat storage.
Avoid the regular no-no's such as candy and soft drinks, but also stay away from sneaky, sugary condiments like ketchup; dried fruits, which have more concentrated sugar than their hydrated counterparts, and anything with high fructose corn syrup.
•Eat the right kind of fat – it's good for you! Bad fats include trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Look for these on labels. Trim excess fat from meats and stick with mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Use olive oil for cooking, as salad dressing or on vegetables. Eat avocados, whole olives, nuts and seeds, and don't be afraid to jazz up meals with a little butter or cheese.
•Eat the proper amount of lean protein to maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Eggs, beef, chicken, pork, seafood and dairy in the right amounts are good protein sources. Remember, most of these contain fat, so it shouldn't be necessary to add more. Use the minimum amount needed to satisfy your taste buds. Also, anyone trying to lose weight should limit non-animal proteins, such as legumes, because they contribute to higher blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.
•Vary your workouts to speed up fat loss. Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercises play a role in maximum fat loss. Low-intensity exercise, like walking, is effective for reducing insulin resistance so you store less fat. Alternate walking with high-intensity interval training to build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Interval training can be cardio blasts such as running up stairs on some days and lifting weights on others. This type of exercise forces your body to burn up its glycogen – a readily accessible fuel for your muscles – faster than an equivalent amount of cardio exercise. When you're done, your body will replenish that fuel by converting stored fat back into glycogen and you'll lose weight.
"Healthy weight loss isn't about picking a popular diet and trying to stick to it," Ochs says. "It's about discovering the right diet for your unique body. For each person, the optimal amount of carbohydrates, proteins and exercise to burn the most stored body fat will be different. And that's why one-size-fits-all diets just don't work."