Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do Elimination Diets Work For Weight Loss?

March 2012 – FAQ: Nutrition!

For this month’s article, I will be answering a question I received from one of my Boot Camp members. Basically, the lovely young lady wants to know if there are any pitfalls to eliminating (or significantly reducing) certain macronutrient categories (such as carbohydrates) or food groups (such as fruits) from one’s diet for the purpose of losing unwanted weight. Elimination diets are a hot topic of discussion these days and have been for many years. Some experts promote one kind of diet (Protein dominant) and others swear the opposite (Carbohydrate dominant) is true. When the experts cannot agree, who are we supposed to listen to or follow? I will do my best today to guide you through the confusion.

Elimination Diets for Healing and Weight Loss

Elimination diets can be a positive tool for certain situations or conditions. For instance, I recently aggravated my lower back from doing some heavy Olympic lifts and to help reduce inflammation and speed recovery, I am following an anti-inflammatory diet. I have eliminated (or significantly reduced) foods that are known to increase heat in the body. Similarly, I have put clients on anti-fungal diets when they suffer from a fungal condition such as eczema. Then there are various types of fasts (i.e. water only, juicing only, water and teas) one can do to help rebuild digestion. However, with all the above examples, there is a specific purpose to using an elimination diet and it’s usually a temporary (short-term) way of eating. Therefore, the question remains – if elimination diets are effective for certain conditions, will they be effective for weight loss?

Blueberries are a natural anti-inflammatory food
First of all, a lot of people do not understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss (to learn more about the difference, you can read this past article They measure their success by the amount of weight they lose instead of their body composition (lean-muscle tissue % vs. body fat %). Weight loss can come in several forms such as water, glycogen (stored sugar), body fat tissue, muscle tissue and even bone density. When people follow elimination diets for weight loss, it usually has negative consequences. In fact, it is often the people who lose the most amount of weight in the shortest period of time who, sooner or later, suffer the greatest downfall.


The 3 macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each plays a VITAL role in our overall health. Together they form our bodily tissue (muscles, bones and organs etc.) and aid in all our everyday bodily functions (such as energy and hormone production). To eliminate (or significantly reduce) any one (or more) of these 3 major components to lose weight is a recipe for disaster. Even though you may lose weight, you will diminish your health and well being in the process. With that being said, you can manage the percentage of each of the macronutrients you consume to improve your body composition (decrease body fat %). As a certified Advanced Metabolic Typing Advisor, this is exactly what I teach in the ‘Metabolic Typing Diet’ program (by Dr. William Wolcott).

I use the Metabolic Typing Diet with my clients to determine which macronutrient ratio works best for them. Remember, this ratio is unique to each individual. Some people require a higher percentage of proteins or fats and others require a higher percentage of carbohydrates. I cannot speak highly enough about the effectiveness of this program. Not only will it help you reach an ideal body composition, but it helps regulate hormones, increase energy and improves digestion just to name a few. And because it is an educational program, it empowers you to manage your own diet for the rest of your life.

Tired of guessing? Discover your Metabolic Type today!

Food Groups

As previously mentioned, eliminating certain foods is beneficial for healing some conditions. However, eliminating an entire food group, especially for the goal of weight loss, is ridiculous in my opinion. There are so many benefits of eating fruits for example that I could write an entire book on it (and there are lots already written). Again, there are some fruits that are better for some people than others for certain reasons (such as metabolic type or food allergies) but to eliminate them all suggests that all fruits are bad for your health. Suggestions such as these are made because people do not understand how the human body works. Unfortunately, a lot of people often act upon these suggestions in utter desperation.    

Monitor Your Diet

How do you know if a diet is working for you? Again, most people measure their success by the amount of weight they lose which, more often than not, is hazardous to their health. Thankfully, there are several other methods to monitor progress which is much more safe and effective. The following are the 3 main ways I measure the effectiveness of a nutritional program. Please keep in mind that they are placed in a sequential order.

1)      Digestion:

The first thing you should observe when introducing a new diet plan (or new supplement) is your digestion. Digestion is one of the key signs of health in the body. Whether your digestion improves or worsens is an easy way to determine the effectiveness (or deficiency) of your current eating habits (diet). Once you are on a diet that improves and supports your digestive system, you will begin to notice positive changes in various aspects of your wellbeing (body, mind and spirit). (Another reason I promote the Metabolic Typing Nutritional Program is because it teaches you how to properly monitor your digestion)

2)      Exercise Intensity (performance):

The next thing I check is exercise intensity. Are you able to train at the same, lower or higher intensity than normal? For instance, if you normally find a set of 10 squats with a 50 lb load to be very intense, you can use this exercise as a measure of your body’s output. After completing the set, you will get a sense of your output for that day. Food is our fuel. If you put in poor-quality food then your body will put out a poor-quality, workout performance. It’s really that simple. (Please keep in mind, there are other lifestyle factors that can contribute to performance changes such as sleep and stress but unfortunately, they are out-of-scope for this article)

3)      Body Composition:

When your digestion and performance are at optimal levels then you can focus on measuring body composition. I hope you can see the natural progression presented here. Your diet should first support the digestive system which will in turn, enhance your performance and finally, result in an improved body composition (less body fat and more lean-muscle tissue). In other words, eating correctly will regulate digestion and give you more energy. This increased energy will allow you to exercise at a higher intensity and get more out of your workouts. As a result, you will lose unwanted body fat and enjoy a healthier, leaner physique.   

Final Thoughts

The reason many experts argue over which diet is best is because there are several diets which work great for a large number of people. Some experts promote higher protein diets with good success and others advocate higher carbohydrate diets with good success. Notice that I said ‘good’ success. In this case, ‘good’ is not good enough. There are also a large number of people who fail miserably following these same diets. It is an inevitable outcome of placing the entire human race under the same generic diet (one way of eating for everyone). Furthermore, most so-called ‘experts’ use weight-loss as the sole measurement of success to determine the effectiveness of their diets. Is it any wonder why so many people still have not figured out this problem after all these years?  

Sal Crispo
Vaughan Personal Trainer

P.S.  If you have any questions regarding this article or any questions about health and fitness in general, just contact me at or 416-452-1841 and I will be glad to answer them for you as soon as possible.  If you think this article is valuable and can help the people you care about, feel free to share it with them. 

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