Millions of us are struggling with diets, exercise routines, and extreme money-saving measures...
That's because so many of us make New Year's resolutions. But most of us will give up next week and all but about 8% of us will quit by February.
So, chances are, you're surrounded by media about the latest and greatest diets. Losing weight is one of the most popular resolutions, usually around the same as saving money.
There's one media outlet we trust for this kind of dietary data: U.S. News & World Report. It just released its annual review of the best and worst diets.
One of our favorites, the Mediterranean diet, topped the list again this year. This is a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and olive oil. It has been linked to everything from preventing cognitive decline to protecting our gut bacteria.
The shocker on the list this year: the uber-popular "keto" diet is one of the absolute worst diets.
Ketogenic diets are typically high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets. Here's the basic idea behind it...
Normally, our bodies break down carbs to make glucose, which we use for energy. When we don't eat carbs, our bodies will break down fat. When fat breaks down during a process called ketosis, it creates an acid called a ketone.
The ketones act as energy units that feed your body. They travel through your bloodstream to muscles. This is actually how you maintain energy when you fast. And "keto" diets are meant to jump-start this process.
Here's the thing... ketogenic diets work, and they do help people lose weight. But they're extremely difficult to maintain over a long period of time. One study out of the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland found that obese men following a ketogenic diet for four weeks lost almost 14 pounds. But subsequent studies saw high dropout rates later on, as the diet was difficult to follow for long.
Longtime readers know I'm not a fan of unsustainable fad diets. And it's essential for people to understand the risks and rewards.
So, if you still want to try a diet – especially if you really want to test out a keto diet – I've got a much simpler, safer way to do that.
The secret to is to simply eat nothing.
I've written several times about the benefits of fasting. Fasting helps you lose weight in the long term as well as control insulin levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and protect your heart. We know that it lowers diabetes risk and helps with chemotherapy.
It's the only "diet" plan that makes sense. And exciting new research in the last two years points to maximizing the benefits of fasting by focusing on a time interval instead of switching full days.
In other words, restricting eating to a short period of time (such as eight or 10 hours) does more to lower blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure in the long term than avoiding eating over a full day.
In fact, a new article published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of 2019 showed that shortening eating time to just six to eight hours flips a metabolic switch. You switch carbohydrate-fueled energy for ketone-based.
Remember, ketones are acids that form when your body breaks down fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Flipping that switch to turn on ketone-burning metabolism leads to improved stress tolerance, longer lifespans, and a lower risk of cancer and diabetes.
It turns out that eating in a shorter time frame (than food marketers want) has a lot to do with our body's natural cycles. Our metabolism syncs up better with our natural circadian rhythm. By only consuming calories during certain parts (perhaps the digestion or activity peaks) of our rhythm's cycle, we can more effectively break foods down.
Try eating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Or push it to six hours and eat between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. And no snacking in the interim. The best part of this type of fasting is that you can either reduce how many calories you consume, or you can keep it the same. You can adjust as needed depending on how you feel and if you want to lose weight.
Make fasting part of your routine this year and you'll see better results than you would on an extreme diet. For most of us, it's a good, sensible way to not just lose weight, but to improve your health overall. Just use caution and speak to your doctor if you have diabetes, particularly if you take insulin injections.
What We're Reading...
- Something different: Yes, there are good viruses.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 9, 2020
P.S. Fasting is one of my top tips for a healthier, happier 2020. If you want to see the full list, you'll need to subscribe to Retirement Millionaire. You'll get my monthly issue with investment recommendations, market advice, money-saving tips, and a health and wellness topic. You'll get access to my special reports, a full model investment portfolio, and more. Click here to learn how to get started. (And if you're already a subscriber, you can find the 2020 list here.)