'Do-It-Yourself' Diet

Dr. Louis Aronne, an eating specialist, has the answers for The Early Show viewers who don't want to follow the fad diets but want to lose weight on their own. On Friday, he lists the foundations of such a diet plan.

The simple idea behind Dr. Aronne's plan is a nutrient breakdown for daily meals designed to slow the body's rise in insulin levels and thereby lessen the craving for food. High insulin levels in the blood cause the body to crave food.

By lowering insulin levels through the intake of fewer calories, and exercising, the brain over time learns to re-program itself to expend energy more efficiently by storing more unused calories as muscle, and fewer as fat.

Dr. Aronne says his weight loss program curbs hunger for longer periods. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Eat Less
This is obviously the most important aspect of any weight loss program: lowering your caloric intake. The average man should take in about 1800 calories a day, while the average woman should eat about 1200 calories a day.

Vary Your Foods
Try to mix up what you are eating. The ideal diet should consist of about 29 percent protein; 26 percent fat and 45 percent carbohydrates.

Eat Slow-Burning Carbohydrates
When we say slow burning carbohydrates we are talking about vegetables and whole grains. These foods tend to be more filling. At the same time, you want to remove fast-burning carbs, such as sugar and starches. The problem with these foods is that you tend to get hungry more quickly after eating them.

Carbohydrates are our chief source of nutriment as they all contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Most carbohydrate foods are also inexpensive and readily available.

If you eat too few carbohydrates, then you may suffer fatigue, depression, and a breakdown of body protein for energy. The proportion of carbohydrates in a food depends on the water content of the sample. Milk, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits have high water content and therefore have fewer than l00 grams per sample. When you eat dried fruits, the sugar is more concentrated than in fresh fruits.

The main dietary carbohydrates that we obtain from cereals and potatoes, for example, are starches, whereas the main dietary carbohydrates in dried fruits and sweeteners are sugars. Baked goods and beer, with both grain and sugar components, are intermediate.

As your body metabolizes carbohydrates, it forms glucose. Glucose is measured in the body as blood sugar and is "burned" as fuel by the tissues in your body. Some is converted to glycogen and stored for later use.

A weight- loss program is going to be much more effective if you combine a good diet with exercise. While it would be great if everyone joined a gym, it's not necessary. Exercising at a moderate level for 30 minutes most or all days of the week is very effective In fact, recent medical research has shown that for women, brisk walking at least 3 hours per week has the same effect in reducing the risk of heart disease as regular vigorous exercise.

Set Realistic Goals
According to Dr. Aronne, studies show most people want to drop 1/3 of their body weight. That's not realistic. Look at what is manageable; losing the first 10 pounds is most important, not the last 10 pounds. Any real goal is to find a healthy way of eating that makes you feel full and satisfied.

The average weight loss of 1/2 pound to 2 pounds a week is standard. In eight weeks most people will lose between 5 to 7 pounds (others more) by following the weight plan and incorporating exercise. And remember: do what you can; no one is perfect.

Dr. Aronne says people following his diet program have a better chance at losing weight than those following other diets.

About Dr. Louis Aronne
Louis J. Aronne, M.D., is director of New York Hospital's Comprehensive Weight Control Center, where he has helped thousands of people achieve healthier lifestyles and slimmer, trimmer bodies. He serves as associate professor of clinical medicine at Cornell University Medical College and is a member of the Laboratory of Human Behavior and Metabolism at Rockefeller University.