Review: Eat More, Weigh Less
Eat More, Weigh Less: How It Works
Ornish suggests that our metabolism was set back in Fred Flintstone's era, when we didn't know where our next meal was coming from and there were times when little food was available. The body naturally wanted to hang onto all the energy it could and would try to store any extra energy as fat. Nowadays, most of us have almost continuous access to food, but our bodies haven't adapted to this new way of living.
Because the rate at which you are burning calories can decrease when you consume fewer calories, you may hit a plateau soon after you begin a new, lower-calorie diet. For most of us, the pounds seem to melt away for a delightful week or two, but then that scale doesn't budge. Our weight stays the same, sometimes for a week, sometimes much longer.
But Ornish argues that with this eat-all-you-want, eat-as-often-as-you-are-hungry routine, your metabolism stays the same, or better yet, even increases. The high-fiber content also slows down the absorption of food into the digestive system, so you feel full longer with small portions than you would eating calorie-restricted small portions. The complex carbohydrates don't cause your blood sugar, the level of glucose in the blood, to yo-yo. It remains more stable, and so do you.
Ornish gives more than a passing nod to physical activity, encouraging long, slow exercise that uses body fat as fuel. Moderate exercise done on a regular basis revs up your resting metabolism, while some have suggested that short periods of intense exercise decrease metabolism.
Although he doesn't claim that meditation will make the pounds dissolve, his regimen incorporates it as a way of quieting your mind, increasing self-awareness, and coping with stress. He calls it food for the soul. "When your soul is fed, you have less need to overeat," he writes in Eat More, Weigh Less. "When you directly experience the fullness of life, then you have less need to fill the void with food."
Eat More, Weigh Less: What the Experts Say
Mostly, the Ornish diet gets kudos from the medical community for his highly restricted diet and healthy lifestyle routine. His documented studies showing a reversal of coronary blockage are indeed impressive. Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says: "His diet is one of the only popular diet plans that is firmly rooted in science. It not only brings weight loss without counting calories, but it also brings good overall health. It reverses heart disease, cuts the risk of cancer, makes diabetes and hypertension more manageable, and sometimes even makes them go away."
The drawback is that the plan requires learning completely new eating habits, which many consider drastic. Barnard, the author of Food for Life and several other books on health, adds, "But after the first week or two, the plan becomes self-rewarding, because the weight loss is virtually automatic. People have better energy and they just want to stick to it."