Many patients of mine ask for advice when they come to the office regarding good diet or exercise plans for them to lose weight. What many people do not know or understand is that the concept behind dieting is relatively simple. It is easy to get distracted with all the different “fad” diets out there and if you are someone without any kind of background or knowledge on the subject, you may not know what to do.

So let’s break this down a little bit. The goal of dieting for most people is, what? To lose weight in the form of body fat, right? Well with that being the case, you need to understand how body fat is formed, and then ultimately “burned away” during the dieting process. Body fat forms, or more accurately grows larger, due to excess glucose in the body. Now if you can remember back to high school biology class, glucose is one of the simplest forms of sugar and is the main source of energy in the human body. It is broken down into adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is what feeds your cells and keeps them functioning. The problem arises when there’s too much glucose and the body ends up storing that extra glucose in the fat cells as a substance called glycogen. The storage of glycogen in the fat cells is what causes them to grow larger. Just to be fair, glycogen also accumulates in the muscle tissues and the liver, but because fat loss is the main goal of dieting that is what I’ll focus on.

Now that you have some insight into the build-up and breakdown of fat, we can examine exactly how we can use that information to help you lose weight. The concept is quite simple and many of you may have already surmised where I am heading with this, but in order to lose weight you need to eat less sugar and carbohydrates. Glucose is what you get when sugar or carbohydrates have been completely digested, so it makes perfect sense that you would want to cut those foods out of your diet. No sugar means no glucose. And no glucose means no glycogen production. Doing this will cause you to enter a low blood-glucose state. In this state, your body will need to find an alternative source of energy, so it will actually begin to break down the glycogen which has built up in your fat cells. As the glycogen is broken down the fat cells will shrink and you will begin to lose weight.

It is important to know that muscle tissue can also be broken down for energy too, so in order to prevent that from happening you will need to make sure that you are also consuming enough high quality protein as part of your diet. Good sources of protein like chicken, fish, and nuts are all highly recommended while on a low carb diet to help prevent any breakdown of muscle tissue.

As an example of what a good diet plan based on all of this information would look like it should be very high in vegetables and protein, with moderate amounts of healthy fat (high in omega-3), and very low in sugars and carbohydrates. What little sugar you do consume should come from the occasional fruit and not an artificial source. If you are honest with yourself and follow the plan closely, you will see the results that you have been looking for and the people in your life who see you the most will certainly take notice. This kind of diet is by no means a ‘quick-fix’ or the easiest solution to your weight loss goals, but it is one of the healthiest possible ways to achieve those goals and make life-altering changes to your eating habits that will sustain your progress for a long time into the future.