Dr. Andrew Weil's Diet
What You Can Eat on Dr. Weil's Diet continued...
Weil also recommends that we eat 40 grams of fiber a day, which isn't hard to achieve if you eat fruits (especially berries), vegetables (especially beans), and whole grains in the percentages above. He tells us to avoid milk and consume limited amounts of cheese and other dairy products. That is because a great many of us -- particularly those of Asian and African-American descent -- have some degree of difficulty digesting these (usually from lactose intolerance), and others may be allergic to milk protein.
Weil argues that even without dairy products, we can keep up with our calcium needs with this diet. Ingesting too much protein leeches calcium out of the body, says Weil, so if less protein is consumed then less calcium is required. Non-dairy sources include sardines (which are usually canned without removing the bones), leafy greens, broccoli, and various sea vegetables, such as nori, dulse, and kombu. In addition, tofu, sesame seeds, calcium-fortified orange juice, and fortified soy milk can be good calcium sources.
How Dr. Weil's Diet Works
Weil's diet keeps it simple. You won't get a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo from his book. Instead, he presents a basic primer in human nutrition and describes how the body gets energy from food.
First off, carbohydrates, or starchy vegetables and grains, are converted to glucose and mainly used for energy. The brain particularly likes its energy from carbohydrates. But too many carbs do not make us brainy -- they make us overweight. Too few send us into ketosis, in which the body retrieves energy from fat stores. However (and here's where Weil is critical of the high-protein diets that send us into this altered state), ketosis may be detrimental to our health over the long term, principally because of a rise in cholesterol levels and calcium depletion, according to Weil. The best carbohydrates are unrefined grains and vegetables -- ones that release glucose slowly. Medically speaking, these are said to have a low glycemic index.
Second, fats and oils are more concentrated sources of energy than carbohydrates, but these need to be chemically converted into glucose to be used by the body. Although fat has a bad name in today's collective health consciousness, some fat is essential. Critically speaking, though, we need the right balance. Too much fat ... well, makes us fat, as well as sets up shop for heart disease and cancer. Not enough fat, however, and we may run into problems, such as skin inflammation, hair loss, and susceptibility to infection.
Finally, we require proteins to build, maintain, and repair the body, but they too can be converted to glucose (and therefore serve as an energy source) when needed. They are composed of 20 amino acids, 10 of which must be supplied by foods on a regular basis. Ingesting too much protein increases the workload of the digestive system and may strain the liver and kidneys. Too little will cause malnutrition, increased susceptibility to infection, and possibly early death, Weil says.
Weil cites exercise as a critical component of his program, but has little to say about the subject other than that regular exercise increases caloric output and in time can change the basic weight-loss equation in your favor -- and help you keep off the pounds over the long term.