At the Bariatric & Metabolic Center of Colorado, we advocate a healthy weight loss diet consisting of plant-based whole foods, in which you eliminate as many processed foods as possible. To quote Michael Pollan, professor of science journalism and author of several books on nutrition, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
There are several reasons that we advise our patients to eat more plants. First, processed foods are harder on your body. They’re also often loaded with preservatives and sugars that make them less healthy than plant-based foods.
Additionally, most processed foods, from bread to cereal, have artificial sweeteners and added fat to improve the taste. Most breads, for instance, come loaded with high fructose corn syrup. This is bad for your body. Enriched flour, which functions similarly to sugar in the digestive tract, is also a bad thing to put into your body.
By contrast, plants tend to be both low in fat and added sugars, and packed with nutrients. Processed foods are especially low in micronutrients, and this is one reason that people who eat a typically high-fat high-sugar Western diet end up having health problems. Plants contain a full spectrum of micronutrients to fortify your body.
Types of Healthy Weight-Loss Diet
We realize that not everyone can adopt a strictly plant-based diet. However, anything you can do to reduce processed foods and eat more plants while still taking in enough protein will help you achieve lasting health.
Plant-Based Whole Foods Weight-Loss Diet
A plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like: a heavy focus on unrefined plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc). It also eliminates the consumption of meat and highly refined foods such as artificial sweeteners and bleached flour.
The heart of this dietary approach is foods like baked potatoes, quinoa, and corn. Leafy vegetables, which along with nuts and grains are surprisingly rich in protein, round out the diet.
A plant-based diet is natural, affordable, and very healthy. Plant-based diets are also richly packed with phytochemicals and other micronutrients. These are typically absent from refined foods like bread, but are essential to fortifying the body, helping you stay healthy, and reducing your risk of serious illness. Over 5000 phytochemicals have been studied, and many have been linked to cancer risk reduction and even reversal of some auto-immune diseases.
This diet also reduces harmful toxins known as TMAOs produced by animal sources of protein. If you are interested in losing weight and reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, then this may be the diet philosophy that you want to consider further.
The Eat Clean Diet, pioneered by Tosca Reno, involves frequent small meals of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy carbohydrates. On this diet, your goal is to avoid foods with over-processed ingredients like sugar and white flour. You’ll also avoid artificial sweeteners, saturated fats, and trans fats.
The Eat Clean diet involves regular exercise and drinking plenty of water to keep your body firing on all cylinders. It also involves taking supplements. A typical meal on the Eat Clean Diet might be a quinoa salad or stuffed chicken breasts.
Modified Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet also eliminates processed foods but is more meat-based than the previous philosophies. Modified Paleo dieters avoid complex carbohydrates like bread. Instead, they eat lots of plants—non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables are their main source of carbohydrates—as well as lots of protein. They also consume slightly more ‘good fats’ like monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats than most people do, while avoiding unhealthy trans fats.
The Modified Paleo diet is high in protein and plants, and can be a good option as a weight loss diet. A typical dinner might be a chicken salad or maple salmon dish with a side of vegetables. Because it is more animal protein based, the modified paleo diet may carry some increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and chronic disease long-term.
Juicing can be a way to pack the concentrated health benefits of large doses of fruits and vegetables into a single serving. Because of this, it can also be a way to build up essential micronutrients and improve your health. However, juicing may not be ideal for diabetics because the concentration of sugar in juice can be very high once the food fiber has been removed. Also, drinking a large quantity of fruit juice can contribute extra calories to a normal diet and may actually promote weight gain if used in this fashion. It is also important to note that by itself juicing is not a complete diet and should not be used as a total meal replacement strategy for extended periods of time. However, when used appropriately, juicing can be added to a weight loss diet. You can find a list of juicing recipes here.
If you are interested in better understanding how juicing can be used in a safe and effective fashion to promote healthy weight loss, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with your weight loss team.
Healthy Weight-Loss Recipes
In addition to these diets, you can find lists of healthy, high-protein weight loss recipes on our social media pages, where we share them for everyone. Our team can provide guidance on these recipes if you have any questions. Some of these fit into one of the above diets, and if you’re practicing one of those then our recipes can provide inspiration and easy meals. Other recipes that we offer don’t fit neatly into a dietary scheme but are, as our team has found, excellent weight loss recipes to help you lose weight, keep if off, and regain your quality of life*.
With You Every Step
Bariatric surgery may not be the right path to restore your health and quality of life if your BMI is under 40 (or 35 with co-morbidities). If your BMI is under 40/35, we recommend adopting an exercise regime and a healthy diet to lose weight, possibly supplemented with medical weight loss. And we’ll work with you every step of the way to do so. From taking tours through grocery stores to showing you the best foods for a weight loss diet, to setting up small group consultations with our expert dietitian, we’re your partner in your weight loss journey whether or not you undergo weight loss surgery.
You can begin that journey today.