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The reason you can't ditch those extra pounds? Your body may be working against you. According to new research, inflammation, a condition in which your immune system is kicked into overdrive, may lead to weight gain and make losing more difficult. Doctors think inflammation interferes with leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite and metabolism. "In a normal-weight person, when body fat increases, leptin levels rise, which signals the brain that it needs to speed up metabolism and decrease appetite," explains Leo Galland, MD, director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine in New York City and author of The Fat Resistance Diet. "But in heavy people, that message gets lost, and the body can't regulate its fat stores."
Inflammation is caused by a number of factors, including stress, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxins, and it contributes to medical problems such as heart disease and arthritis. But the foods you eat, especially a diet high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and red meat, can also trigger it.
The simple solution, says Dr. Galland, is the Fat Resistance Diet: Eat superfoods, such as apples, almonds, bell peppers, salmon, and egg whites, that act as natural forms of ibuprofen, helping to stop inflammation. Some pretty convincing evidence that his plan works: On this diet, people have achieved their optimal weight, losing as much as 100 pounds. A number of Dr. Galland's patients have kept the weight off for up to 20 years. "It's all about consuming the right foods and enjoying what you're eating," says Dr. Galland. You'll be amazed by what you can eat on this plan. This delicious dessert recipe is just a taste of what we mean. Dig in!
NUTS AND SEEDS: (raw, unsalted) Almonds, Flaxseeds, Sesame seeds, Walnuts
FRUIT: Apples, Blueberries, Cherries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Pomegranates
BEVERAGES: (unsweetened) Blueberry juice, Cherry juice, Green tea, Pomegranate juice, Vegetable juice
VEGETABLES: Arugula, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Leeks, Onions, Romaine lettuce, Scallions, Shiitake mushrooms, Spinach, Tomatoes
HERBS AND SPICES: Basil, Black pepper, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Garlic, Ginger, Parsley, Turmeric
FISH: Flounder, Salmon, Sole, Tilapia
OTHER: Egg whites, Yogurt (plain, nonfat)
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2007.