A new diet is challenging conventional wisdom that simply eating too many calories is the driver of weight gain. Rather, it claims, food intolerances — chemical reactions to common foods, including “healthy” ones such as soy and egg whites — are triggers of weight gain for up to 70 percent of Americans.
“Your body is not a bank account. It’s a chemistry lab,” says JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, a book that became a New York Times best-seller just two weeks after its release in late November.
What Virgin means is this: Traditional diets view your body as a caloric bank account in which calories in must balance calories out. However, a more basic, hidden problem of food intolerance underlies the inability to lose weight.
What Is Food Intolerance?
We are all familiar with food allergies, which can trigger life-threatening breathing difficulties or hives when someone eats an offending food, such as shellfish or peanuts. These are reactions of the immune system.
Food intolerances are also triggered by the immune system, but in a different way. They are subtle, may take hours or days to manifest, and can include a variety of symptoms, from bloating and gas to skin conditions, achy joints, and excess body fat.
Solve the Problem
Theoretically, food intolerance can be triggered by any food, and each one of us has a unique body chemistry. But in more than 25 years of solving the weight problems of athletes, CEOs, celebrities, and other clients, as a nutrition and fitness specialist, Virgin has identified these seven foods as the most likely culprits:
7. Sugar and artificial sweeteners
She has devised a plan that enables anyone to identify which foods are causing problems and learn how to eat to lose weight for good. Although her book is called a “diet,” it isn’t one in the usual sense.
“It treats food as information,” she tells Newsmax Health, “connecting the dots between what you eat, how you feel, and what you weigh.”
In practice, Virgin’s “diet” has three steps:
1. Transform. For three weeks, eliminate the seven foods most likely to trigger reactions. In addition to being found in obvious places (soy in soy milk, or gluten in baked goods and pasta, for example), all seven are ingredients in many packaged and restaurant foods, so you need to be vigilant.
2. Test and Customize. Gradually start eating the seven foods, one at a time, and keep a diary of how you feel. This determines how much of a given food you can tolerate, if any, so that you get to know your own body chemistry and customize your diet.
3. Sustain. Continually eat the way that works for you, and you should never have to “diet” again.
To make this work, you have to follow the plan 100 percent — cheating during the first 21 days will put you back at square one. But most people who stick with it for at least a week experience significant weight loss, feel better, and continue, Virgin says.
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