Most of us have tried to go on a diet. Most of us have done it several times. Most of us have had no lasting success. Again, most of us have asked “why?” Here are the answers to your questions.
Sarah F. – Dr. Fisher’s patient, post-surgery
There is no tailor-made ready-made diet. Diet is and is not science. The scientific part is a matter of organic and inorganic chemistry, which we will visit only in part here. What will be our main concern? We will focus on how to improve your lifestyle (including diet) after surgery.
Pre-surgery, your sole focus is usually to carry out the strict advice of our staff with respect to fasting (at least 6 hours prior) and not drinking anything. You must not smoke and you should be clean and also think of how to make your life easier after surgery, thus prepare for several days of immobility, have some assistant or house-help and do your chores and shopping…
Post-surgery, it all depends on the kind of surgical procedure performed. However, since the advice most relevant to liposuction is likewise relevant and beneficial to other procedures, we will focus on liposuction and make minor asides at times. There is no doubt that adjusting your eating regimen and purchasing some of the medication (e.g. Obagi) from our desk will help you, no matter what surgery you have undergone.
Surgery or not, your diet should correspond to your body type and needs. What is interesting is that it does not matter whether you are a woman or a man. What matters more is your age and overall fitness. Some people tell me: “I have slow metabolism…There is nothing I can do.” Sure there is. Make it fast! How? Easy. Eat-eat-eat!
I often have clients come to me with the same question: what should I do – I don’t have time to eat! Then, they do not eat all day until the evening – we all know what happens. What happens physiologically? Your body goes into what I call “starvation mode” when everything shuts down, your blood pressure goes down, your muscles are weak – because your body taps into reserves. This is good when done methodically, but totally counter-productive when done haphazardly and involuntarily, as is often the case.
When you stop eating, your stomach shrinks and your body thinks: “Ha! Starvation time!” or “Oops! Emergency mode!” and instead of consuming fat it has stored, starts storing more fat because it does not know how long or how hard the “starvation time” is going to be. BAD!
As a professional trainer and former Olympic athlete, I can tell you that although we are all different by somatotype and psyche, our bodies work in the same way. Fundamental principles do not change. The “starvation fallacy” is the chief evil on your road to live and eat healthy. Starvation is the WORST way to lose weight. Your metabolism stops, your stomach shrinks, you may even hit your fat reserves. However, just as fast, your fat reserves are replenished with the first meal… What is more, unfortunately, most people make this “starving resolution” again and again every morning, upon awakening, only to reverse 180 degrees 12 hours later. There is your vicious circle!
Principle one: Do not cheat! I have had dozens of clients who followed my advice with great success. However, the moment they tried to “cheat” – they cheated themselves. The moment they tried to follow someone else, their plan turned goulash in the head and they went astray. Diet is like religion – everyone has their own, and yet, we all believe in common principles of some common good. It is when you blunder and doubt your belief when you lose it – and gain it (back).
Principle two: do not take your weight every day! In fact, the less often you weigh yourself the more you lose. Your weight is completely misleading. If you do take your weight every day you will find out that you gain 1 pound with every morsel… Unbelievable! – and – not true! Just as with any scientific measurement, the conditions must be equal every time: once a month, in the morning, naked, barefoot, after the morning hygiene. That is the right time to take weight.
Principle three: do not experiment with new things unless and until you are sure the old ones do not work. For example, some of my clients jump on the bandwagon of just anything they hear: “My friend told me that potatoes are good for me. You did not put potatoes on my food list at all. Why?” Because potatoes contain a lot of starch and have comparatively high glycenic index. They do contain very good composition of amino acids, but their overall content is too small. If you eat potatoes, have them with eggs because that approximates the amino acid composition of human muscle tissue. However, if you follow the split diet system, never eat potatoes in the afternoon… etc.
Principle four: everything is good in moderation. “Why should I not follow the XYZ diet?” Because you do not know enough about it. The fact that someone lost weight from an “ice cream diet” does not mean that this will work for you. Usually, such one-sided diets do more harm than good. I say “usually” because if they are scientifically combined and used with exercise, they can work well. However, it is not much of a gain if the “loss” is merely in weight. You must watch for composition, i.e. am I predominantly losing muscle tissue or fat? The human body is very cunning in this because it always tries to store fat. Fat is used not only for energy conservation but for insulation and protection of the body in emergency. It is also central to production of certain hormones. Many female athletes for instance lose their period when their subcutaneous fat drops below 12-10%, depending on the individual. Fat cells are also indispensable for proper functioning of joints and ligaments. Many professional athletes eat such fat on purpose, i.e. chicken skin, fatty chicken soup etc. because they know that such fat helps their joints recuperate. It is more effective than collagen (read the label) and just as good as MSM and Glucosamine, although I must admit supplements are sometimes preferable or work well in combination with natural food (such as chicken soup). The preference for supplements comes from their availability and often power. They tend to be more concentrated and have faster efficiency. This brings me to the next principle.
Principle five: you can eat everything in moderation, but some things in excess provided that you know when to eat it. For example, in general, you should consume fiber-rich, complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, especially green vegetables as peppers, broccoli, cucumbers and squash. Not only do they provide you with fiber and antioxidants but also slower carbohydrate energy, because they do not create an insulin spike. Such a “spike” is created by food with smaller carb chain and higher glycemic index, such as different kinds of sugar and simple carbs (white rice with banana). The latter happens to be favored by musclemen. Why? Because they know when to eat it. If you have a quart of ice-cream after your workout, provided that you had a heavy weightlifting kind of a workout, your muscles desperately need carbs. You have a so-called “window of opportunity” to “stuff” carbs where the body needs them. After that, insulin is secreted and starches stored – in the liver and, the excess, as fat.
Principle six: do not discard supplements! Many would-like-to-be gurus of nutrition argue that the human body should not “pollute” itself with supplements. This is nonsense. Reason: chemistry is so advanced that chemical components are virtually undistinguishable from any so-called “natural” components. Counter-Reason: it is known that the human body absorbs non-chemical, i.e. non-artificial, foods better. Example: Vitamin C. You would not distinguish lemon vs. ascorbic acid under the microscope. They are the same. Yet, the latter is more arduous to absorb. The human body is less efficient. You take Vit.C 1000mg, the body uses 250mg. If you take the same amount in lemon juice, it will use 500mg. Counter-Counter Reason: if you supply both, lemon juice and Vit.C (i.e. squeeze a bit of lemon into your tea and take a tablet of Vit.C) your body will benefit 2-3 times as much as it would if either one or the other was taken separately.
Principle seven: confuse your body. This is probably the most precious piece of advice I have gained over twenty years of working with clients in the gym. The body is a very subtle and clever mechanism. It will not be misled. Not for long. You cannot lie to the body and the body will not lie back to you. Use the mirror, if you will, like in the old fairy tale. Mirrors do not lie. Bodies do not lie. What I mean is this: you do not want to stick to your diet – EVER – for more than a few days. Then, go to a different regimen – you may do it by exercising or by changing your food intake. Once in a while, you may overeat, have your crunchies, whatever pleases you – pizza, hot-dog etc. – but be strict with your body. Do alter what does not work and in the overall plan, make sub-plans, make a little diversionary move here and there, take a few more calories off on Tuesday, starve yourself on Wednesday, but start Thursday with a rich breakfast. Never go to sleep with a full stomach, but never go to sleep hungry either. I like milk at bedtime, yogurt is good – something light, possibly with proteins, rather than carbs in it – will do the trick. Why? Your body recuperates overnight. You want it to repair the broken tissue, supply the brain with minerals and nutrients, etc… Waking up fresh means waking up re-freshed. You need that to diet. You need that to live!