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With the warmer season at our door step, we spoke with Isabelle Huot about the challenges and issues of weight loss. Here are the answers to important questions you should ask before starting a diet!
By Isabelle Huot, Doctor in Nutrition

First and foremost, do you believe that a diet may be beneficial to long term weight loss?

When looking at the statistics, we see that a lot of people are exposed to the yo-yo effect in regards to their weight since they do not take it seriously. To lose weight long term, you have to think of it as a lifestyle habit rather than a diet. We have to take pleasure in eating what we love and appreciate the lifestyle. To avoid frustration, it is important to look at all the benefits of having a good diet, and not just at the weight loss. For example: deeper sleep, increased energy and better concentration.

It is possible to observe a weight gain due to a diet. Do you have tips to avoid that?

The key to maintaining a healthy weight is to go slowly! People who adopt the paleo diet (meat and vegetables) lose a lot of weight quickly. When they reintroduce carbohydrates, it is possible that the weight increases drastically; so to it gradually. Those who adopt a diet of 1200 calories a day can gradually return to a regular diet, and they won’t return to their previous weight.

One should also keep the metabolism active by staying active! Ideally we move about five times a week, each session should be at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise. The most effective type of training is the cardio workout combined with high intensity intervals. It’s the intervals that enable us to burn a lot of calories.

What would you recommend to someone who wants to lose weight fast before summer and stay healthy?

  • It is suggested to lose one to two pounds per week for a total of four to eight pounds per month.
  • It is important to be reasonable and set realistic goals. People give up more easily when their goals are unrealistic.
  • Concerning alcohol, try to limit yourself to a glass of wine per day. But be warned! Drinking an aperitif can stimulate your appetite, so keep in mind that the best is not to drink alcohol at all.
  • The less sugar we consume, the less we want to eat. Try to gradually reduce the sugar intake. The WHO (World Health Organization) specifies that we should not add more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.
  • Finally, it is important to eliminate the evening snacking. We have to learn to differentiate hunger from gluttony and eat only when we are really hungry. The two crucial moments in a day are when you come home from work and after dinner. Here are two tips: prepare healthy snacks for after work and brush your teeth right away after dinner time to avoid eating again.


Which foods encourage weight loss?

There is no particular food that encourages weight loss, but it is very important to raise the intake of protein and fibre in order to stay full longer and not be hungry. Women in particular tend to not eat enough protein at lunch and dinner. Eggs, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are excellent sources of protein. One should also drink lots of water and double the vegetable portion. Half of our plate should be filled with vegetables. Finally, eat more fish and reduce the consummation of red meats.

Should we eliminate certain food to lose weight?

There is no food that needs to be eliminated, but we should distinguish everyday food from the occasional food. If we completely eliminate certain food, we most likely experience a lack or a craving and then compensate by consuming a huge portion of the forbidden food. Avoid feeling guilty and enjoy the occasional cheat meal. If we are not depriving ourselves of a certain food, we are able to eat a reasonable portion.

What do you think of protein diets (shakes and protein bars)?

Those are very unbalanced diets and they may affect the basic metabolism in the long term. Weight loss is spectacular during the first days, but the weight gain thereafter is considerable. People usinga diet like Kilo Solution lose as much weight, while eating real and healthy food!

What do you think of organic and natural herbal tea diets?

They are not a winning formula; being a diuretic or laxative. Those diets are very dehydrating and unhealthy.

What do you think of diet pills?

There are several types of weight loss supplements (fibers that are suppressing the appetite) and stimulants. I do not at all encourage taking supplements that can cause side effects.

Are raw food diets effective to lose weight? Are they good for you?

It’s not bad to eat raw, but it takes a lot of preparation and it is not always easy to eat enough protein with this type of diet. It is recommended to see a specialist before adopting the raw food diet to ensure to have a complete nutrition. The raw food diet is very healthy, but requires a lot of organization to successfully get all the nutrients needed for good health.

What do you think of the diets that require keeping score such as Weight Watchers?

This approach is less restrictive and therefore has a good chance to be successful. A good diet does not exclude any food group, does not sell miracle herbal teas and does not promise a weight loss greater than 2 lbs per week.


What are the common myths surrounding weight loss?

  • A lot of people gather information on the Internet without having a real background in nutrition. It is important to remain critical and to not believe everything one reads
  • The detox treatments are not necessary for the body to function properly. Our body eliminates waste by itself, no detox treatment needed.
  • Coconut butter is not as effective in helping to lose weight as one might think. On average, over a three month period, aone pound weight loss is observed when butters and oils are replaced by coconut, very insignificant.
  • The paleo diet based and inspired by the nutrition of our ancestors that lived as hunters, is more unbalanced than we think. By eliminating grains and dairy products, you may miss fiber, vitamin B complex, calcium and vitamin D.
  • Gluten-free products are not less fattening than products containing gluten. Gluten-free products can be expensive substitutes that are not necessarily better for your health or weight loss. Often they are less complete and lack vitamins.

Finally, are there some truths surrounding weight loss that few people know about?

  • There are no slimming miracle foods!
  • It is observed that obese people have less diversity of intestinal bacteria. Probiotics may therefore help in weight loss.
  • Green tea and cayenne pepper are known to boost the metabolism, but the amounts that would need to be consumed are not very realistic in our everyday life.
  • People consuming less than 600 mg of calcium a day are more likely to gain weight around the waist.



Go back to school in a well-balanced way – eating well despite a busy schedule 

Demystify certain beliefs about the raw food diet

Integrate sport in your daily life