Why Diets Don’t Work For Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, you should never eat until you “feel full.”  Feeling full is a combination of abdominal wall strain, some gas in the small bowel, and a few other things.   When you go to the supermarket when you’re hungry, you end up with a lot of food in your shopping cart that wasn’t on your list.  When you go to the super market after eating a meal, you get what is on your list and leave.  Your appetite is dimmed, and food is less interesting to you.

You may notice the same at home, if you’re bored, and you have not had a meal, you become quite interested in snacks. In contrast, if your appetite is dimmed, and you’re bored, you tend to do other things (go for a walk, read, play on the computer, etc).

The Brain Regulates How You Use Fat

The brain also regulates how well you utilize fat.  Your brain has two choices when you don’t have enough calories, use the fat stored, or slow down your metabolism. Ever notice on a diet that you tend to lose less and less weight by the week, even though you follow all the rules? Fat is regulated by a hormone called Leptin.  Leptin is a key that allows the body to better utilize fat storage.

When you are on a diet, you are eating less, and less food passes through the upper part of the stomach. Where when your body thinks it’s in famine,  maybe you’re simply not eating, Leptin levels decrease, preserving the fat your body has stored.  Put another way, in order to preserve your life, the body holds on to fat as much as it can, for as long as it can.  Many dieters have seen this: they diet (eat less) and after a bit of time their weight loss slows to a crawl.

Even though they are eating far less than is required to maintain their body, they cannot lose weight.  We also see this in lap-band patients with lap-bands that need a fill; they continue to eat a small amount of food, but do not lose the weight they should.  Once the lap-band is adjusted the signal to the brain is amplified, the brain thinks you are eating more than you are, so patients utilize their fat instead of slowing their metabolism.

The regulation of appetite and fat storage does not just come from a few hormones, there are more complex mechanisms involved.  There is no doubt that the key to this process is the nerves in the upper part of the stomach (and more than just the Vagus nerve).

You need to put a small, measured volume of good food in your stomach three to four times a day.   This will allow you to have your appetite dimmed and allow you to lose weight.  The key here is your active participation in this process, not just the eating, but measuring what you eat.  Do not guess the amount of food or keep eating until you “feel full.”

People who have succeeded with their lap-band understand they have two responsibilities: eat good quality food, and make certain (by measuring) that they are eating small amounts of food.  One of the principles of my surgical practice is to help patients work with their lap-band to effectively lose weight.  Diets really don’t work in the long run.

Dr Terry SimpsonDr Terry Simpson – has written 50 posts on this site.
Dr Terry Simpson is a weight loss surgeon, author, & speaker, performing weight loss surgery in Arizona bariatric centers located in Phoenix. Dr Simpson performs lapband (gastric band) surgery, and works with weight loss surgery patients to adopt healthier lifestyles. He offers online courses on "Mastering the Lapband" and "Caring for Your Gastric Sleeve." www.drsimpson.com