Back in 2009, while watching the Late Show with David Letterman, I learned about the The skinny on Losing Weight Without Being Hungry. Letterman introduced Louis Aronne as the author of the book and his personal physician, who had helped Letterman keep his weight under control after open heart surgery. As you’ll learn from this clip, along with why David Letterman wears white socks, the book is based on the premise that obese people have difficulty losing weight. It’s not because they don’t want it badly enough, but because they battle strong biological signals driving them to eat–hormonal signals which obliterate their sense of fullness. That’s why dieters often say that the more they eat the hungrier they get.
As a super fan of David Letterman and a dieting junkie, I went out and purchased the book the next day. After following the diet for two weeks, I had lost six pounds.
In the Introduction and Part One, Aronne says that weight loss is not about will power or priorities or wanting it badly enough. It’s about biology. Those who struggle with weight loss do so because their weight-regulating system is broken. The area of the brain that should act as a fuel gauge, much like the gas gauge on a car, can no longer receive information from the sensors in the stomach, intestines, and fat cells that normally would relay messages back to it, to let it know how many calories have been consumed or how much fat is stored in the cells. Since the messages are not getting to the brain, the needle on the gauge stays on empty, resulting in a feeling of hunger rather than satiety.
Aronne explains that the breakdown in the brain’s regulating system is triggered by a diet laden with certain types of foods consumed in excess. Such a breakdown results in a condition of obesity, one that affects two thirds of the adult population. That’s why so many people have a predisposition to gaining weight. Aronne calls this predisposition a “powerful force, a health problem you must fight.” But, he warns that will power and portion control will not work unless you first override the internal biology and fix the broken gauge. In the chapters that follow, he outlines a plan to help any dieter lose weight and fix the gauge by adopting a number of behavioral and eating strategies that have proven successful with his patients. The strategies are based on Aronne’s research indicating that obesity is not a motivational or psychological issue, but a disease, that like heart disease or cancer, can be treated.
At this point, I know all you diet junkies are saying, “Just get to diet part. What can you eat?” That’s always the bottom line for me, too, so I’ll get right to it. It’s in Part Two.
The diet, or food plan, is highly structured, but with enough flexibility to adapt to individual taste and lifestyle. The dieter is encouraged to restructure meals and snacks according to a Skinny Makeover Plan.
Breakfast is based on a healthy serving of protein. The main options are egg substitute/eggs cooked with veggies or lean meat, or a protein shake. The shake can be commercially prepared or one from the recipe provided in the book: 2 scoops of protein powder, 2T ground flaxseed, 1.5 cups frozen strawberries, water or skim milk. Other options include low fat cottage cheese, turkey sausage, hard boiled eggs, low fat yogurt, or apple with 2T peanut butter.
Lunch begins with an appetizer, which could be a cup of commercially prepared vegetable or bean soup, or soup prepared from a recipe in the book; a green salad with lots of raw veggies, oil and vinegar or low cal prepared dressing; or, a shrimp cocktail. Next, comes a side dish of low carb vegetables, steamed or grilled. The main course is lean protein, up to eight ounces, as needed to satisfy hunger. The courses can be eaten separately to control hunger, but it’s also alright to combine everything into a big salad topped with protein.
Dinner is similar to lunch, with the appetizer, side dish of low carb veggies, and a protein serving. It also includes one serving of high-fiber whole grain beans, rice, pasta, sweet potato, etc. Optional dessert can be fat-free jello with whipped topping or fat-free, sugar-free pudding-1/2 cup.
Snacks–two per day– are included, with at least one required in the afternoon. Dessert at night can take the place of the morning snack. If breakfast is eaten early, Aronne advises taking something before lunch. Some options for snacks are: 1 cup berries, 6-12 almonds, 80z. fat free yogurt (100-120 cals.), 2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese with celery sticks, apple with 2 tsp. peanut butter, etc. Unlimited raw veggies are permitted, and in cases of extreme hunger, it’s okay to eat lean protein or more soup.
As the weight comes off and the breakdown to the brain is restored, the food plan expands to include limited amounts of higher carbs and fat. Aronne addresses both stubborn weight loss and maintenance in Part Three of the book.
In Part Four, Aronne includes Skinny Recipes and Skinny Resources to make the plan easier to follow. I included the shake recipe above, which is my favorite. However, I have also tried the Lentil Soup and the Pork Chops with Cherry Glaze, both of which I found to be delicious.
Although Aronne published this book in 2010, his research on obesity as a disease resulting from a breakdown in the brain’s regulating system, has been borne out by recent studies as well. The principles behind the diet are as up-to-date as they were seven years ago. The only section that may need revision is the last one, in which Aronne lists commercial products and fast food items that comply with the Skinny Diet guidelines. But if you are looking for a plan that will help you manage hunger and lose weight in the process, I highly recommend this one. Copies are available through Amazon on Kindle and paperback at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+skinny+on+weight+loss+by+dr.+aronne&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Athe+skinny+on+weight+loss+by+dr.+aronne