The topic of healthy (and maintainable) weight loss is a personal one for me. If you’re familiar with my story, you already know that throughout most of my teens and twenties, I was morbidly obese and collected chronic illness diagnoses like they were going out of style. The first time I lost 100 pounds, I gained it all back (plus an extra 30 for good measure) within three years. I couldn’t seem to lose the weight again for about the next seven years, despite trying a myriad diets (calorie restriction, low-carb, keto, meal replacement shakes) and a year on a weight loss medication (orlistat). I just seemed to lose and gain the same 30 pounds over and over (well, lose 30, gain 40, you know how it goes), reaching around 300 pounds at my heaviest (I have to guess at my heaviest weight since I refused to weight myself for a long time).
The second time I lost 100 pounds felt much harder and required so much more willpower and determination. And yet when I should have been celebrating being only 30 pounds away from my goal weight, instead I recognized that my health was deteriorating. Weight loss had lowered my high blood pressure and reversed pre-diabetes (yay!), but I was still plagued with IBS, acid reflux, migraines, depression and anxiety, asthma, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, chronic colds, daily joint pain, and low energy (boo!). To say that I felt frustrated is a humongous understatement.
That’s when I had one of the most important realizations of my life: the word thin and the word healthy don’t mean the same thing.
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The Weekly Serving Matrix is very helpful! I’ve been eating along these lines but this really helps me know where to focus vs. which foods serve a more secondary role. It’s super helpful and has taken a lot of worry out of my meal planning. Thanks!Jan
And being thin at the expense of being healthy isn’t worth it.
And that low-carb diet that I was following to get thin, wasn’t making me healthy.
That’s when I found the Paleo diet and lifestyle, the Autoimmune Protocol, and functional medicine (not to mention the inspiration to launch thepaleomom.com!). Through scientifically-grounded modifications to my diet and lifestyle, and smarter medical interventions for my four autoimmune diseases, I regained my health! After that, I was finally able to attain my goal body composition and have maintained my weight loss with negligible effort for eight years.
This is why I talk about getting healthy to lose weight (rather than losing weight to get healthy).
But, I don’t trade in anecdotes. Just because something did or didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it’s the right or wrong thing for you. That’s what scientific evidence is for!
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The Science of Weight Loss
I used my medical research background to dive deep into the scientific research to understand:
- why all of the dietary strategies I tried had failed me;
- why even when I successfully lost weight using those diets, I found it so hard to keep the weight off;
- and why when I finally lost weight, all of my other health issues seemed to worsen.
It turns out, that all of my experiences were completely predictable. (If only I had read the relevant scientific studies a decade [or two] earlier!)
Almost every diet ever studied can result in weight loss, but maintaining lost weight is extremely difficult. Why? Because most conventional approaches to weight loss lower your metabolism while increasing hunger, a recipe for weight gain and yo-yo dieting.
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I never realized how important nutrients are and how intricately the body works! I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your knowledge and insights.Cheryl
In fact, studies show that only 1 in 5 people are able to maintain a weight loss of greater than 10% of their initial body weight for at least 1 year. Dang, that’s a whole lot of work for some pretty long odds that the results will last.
And, it’s not just straight calorie restriction that has this poor track record. In fact, there’s scientifically-proven limitations of low-carb, ketogenic, and low-fat diet approaches!
That’s why it’s so important to lose weight in a healthy way, preserving hormone regulation and basal metabolic rate, leading not just to weight loss success but weight loss maintenance over the long term.
The Autoimmune Protocol e-book
Your practical guide to jump-start your healing with the AIP today.
One of my FAVORITE books I used to start the transition to AIP!!! It’s so helpful! I printed mine out and spiral bound it. Thank you for this!Rita Davidson
And, here’s the good news: there’s tons of quality scientific studies that tell us how to achieve healthy (and maintainable) weight loss. These strategies align with what I eventually found worked for me. And, I’m happy to share all of this information!
You can, of course, get the cliffs notes on my Paleo for Weight Loss page (which includes links to many of the detailed articles I’ve written on the topic). But if you want to dig even deeper, I’m super excited to announce that I finally have a fantastic resource for you!
Announcing the Healthy Weight Loss Online Course!
In this online course, I examine why maintaining weight loss is so challenging using conventional approaches—busting many weight loss and diet myths, including the limitations of low-carb, ketogenic, and low-fat diet approaches—and present the latest scientific evidence for a healthy approach to easily-sustainable weight loss.
This online course includes 2 1/2 hours of video lecture, including downloadable and printable PDFs of my presentations slides. The topics I cover in detail include:
The Gut Health Guidebook
Diet and lifestyle to nurture your gut microbiome and heal leaky gut!
The depth of information, practical tips, and the accessible way Dr. Sarah shows me how to apply complex science to improve my health is truly remarkable.Wendy
- Overweight and obesity: definitions and implications
- Smart goal setting and measuring weight loss success
- Why maintaining weight loss is so hard
- Busting diet myths (the problems with keto, low-carb, low-fat, and low-calorie)
- Nutrients that aid fat metabolism
- Obesity and the gut microbiome
- Lifestyle factors that contribute to weight gain
- How to lose weight in a healthy way (so it’s easy to maintain)
I explain why it’s so hard to keep the weight off when you lose weight using conventional weight loss diets. Fortunately, there’s tons of scientific evidence that proves that when you lose weight in a healthy way, it’s much easier to keep the weight off! I like to think of this approach as getting healthy to lose weight (instead of losing weight to get healthy).
Recharge Your Health Journey!
Learn how to lose weight in a healthy way, so you can keep it off!
The Gut Health Cookbook
180+ delicious recipes featuring 61 gut health superfoods!
The Gut Health Cookbook is fantastic! Thank you for researching and creating The Gut Health Cookbook! Such wonderful recipes! I’m so excited to try them all!
Get Instant Digital Access for $129
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Save $10 on The Gut Health Guidebook and Cookbook!
I love Dr. Sarah’s passion for educating people and helping everyone on their journey to wellness!!Mindy
Want an upgrade? Because I know you’re super excited to dive into this enlightening content, I want to mention that you can get all four of my new online courses (Introduction to Nutritional Sciences, Therapeutic Paleo Approach, Healthy Weight Loss, and Gut Health Fundamentals) plus an awesome bonus lecture on Fad Diet Recovery (which includes a critique of ketogenic diets) in The Foundations of Health Online Course Collection. This online course collection includes a total of 15 (!) hours of video lecture, including downloadable and printable PDFs of my 650(!) presentations slides.
Learn more about The Foundations of Health Collection here.