Your personal nutrition consultant

Your personal nutrition consultant

Why do we gain weight? What causes obesity?

Weight-loss wisdom has long focused on one thing: Consume fewer calories than you burn. There’s just one problem. It doesn’t work — at least not over the long term, for most people. Obesity rates remain at historic highs, despite a 40-year focus on low-calorie, low-fat diets.

An excessive focus on calories isn’t just ineffective — it works against weight loss. Recent studies show that highly processed carbohydrates adversely affect metabolism and weight in ways that can’t be explained by calories alone.

Conversely, nuts, olive oil, and dark chocolate — some of the most calorie-dense foods in existence — appear to prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

After two decades of researching obesity and caring for thousands of people struggling with their weight, we’ve come to realize that overeating doesn’t make us fat. The process of becoming fat makes us overeat.

Conquering “hungry fat”, a new approach proposed by NovaLong

Though it may seem counterintuitive, hunger and overeating are the consequence, not the cause, of an underlying problem. Something has triggered fat cells to suck up and store too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body.
Perceiving low-energy resources, our brains unleash the starvation response, including hunger (to get extra calories) and a slower metabolism (to save energy). Eating more solves this “energy crisis” temporarily, but it also accelerates weight gain.

Cutting calories can reverse the weight gain — initially — but inevitably increases hunger and slows metabolism even more.
What causes fat cells to hoard calories? The culprit is too much insulin, which we can think of as the ultimate fat-cell fertilizer.

And what’s raising our insulin levels? All the processed carbohydrates that crept into our diets during the low-fat craze of the last few decades — bread, rice, chips, crackers, cookies, and snacks and desserts.

So, the standard modern diet — together with stress, sleep deprivation, and sedentary habits — has put our fat cells into calorie-storage overdrive and undermined our efforts to take control of our weight.

The conventional calorie-balance approach fails because it’s focused on the wrong target. The problem isn’t having too many calories in the body; it’s having too few in the right place — circulating in the blood stream and available for our immediate energy needs. It’s a distribution problem.

Processed carbohydrates overstimulate fat cells, which become greedy and consume more than their share of calories. In this way, fat cells feast while the rest of the body starves, and we struggle with constant hunger.

Fortunately, this is all reversible.

How NovaLong Diets work?

The best way to deal with “hungry fat” cells is to change what we eat, not how much. The goal is to prevent fat cells from getting the lion’s share of calories.

The most effective strategy is to shift away from fast-burning carbohydrates and toward a more nutrient-dense diet — with plenty of quality protein and healthy fats. These foods burn more slowly and are also more satisfying and filling.

This approach is designed to work from the inside out, creating the optimal internal conditions for weight loss to occur naturally. Follow it, and your body will find the rate of weight loss that’s right for you.

That might be half-kilogram per week for some people, or a kilogram or more for others. But without deprivation and hunger, the results will be progressive and sustainable.

Here is a three-phase program that helps you do all of the following:

  • Turn off your starvation response by eating nutrient-dense foods whenever you’re hungry — and eating until you’re fully satisfied. (Deprivation slows metabolism.)
  • Tame your fat cells with a reduced-carb diet that lowers insulin levels (high insulin overstimulates fat cells), calms inflammation, and redirects calories to the rest of your body.
  • Follow a simple lifestyle prescription focused on enjoyable physical activities, quality sleep, and stress relief. These “life supports” will also improve metabolism and facilitate permanent behavior change.

Now, we encourage you to forget calories, focus on the quality of your food, and let your body do the rest!

Current paradigm for weight management

Conventional diets aim to shrink body fat by restricting calorie intake. But this approach is doomed to fail, because it addresses the symptoms, not the problem. After a few weeks of calorie restriction, the body fights back, making us feel hungry, tired, and deprived. This is because when we reduce dietary fat and consume more carbohydrates, fat cells take up and store too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body.

So we get hungry and metabolism slows down. Though we may be able to ignore the hunger and fatigue for a short while, they inevitably erode our motivation and willpower. Soon we succumb to constant hunger and the weight comes racing back.

Science-based NovaLong paradigm for weight management

The NovaLong solution is more effective over the long term, compared with calorie restriction, because it addresses the biological cause of excessive weight gain — fat cells stuck in calorie-storage overdrive. With a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet, this approach lowers insulin levels and reduces inflammation.

NovaLong Molecular Phase

The NovaLong program officially kicks off with a two-week intensive period designed to conquer cravings. Phase 1 is essentially the opposite of a low-fat diet. You’ll eat a high proportion of healthy fat (50 percent of your total calories), a lower amount of total carbs (25 percent), and slightly more protein than you might be used to (25 percent). For two weeks, you’ll eliminate all grain products, potatoes, and added sugar.

Don’t worry about being deprived. You’ll fill up on rich sauces and spreads, nuts and nut butters, full-fat dairy, and other high-fat foods that calorie-restrictive diets won’t let you go near. Including more fats and protein, and restricting carbohydrates, helps you stay full and holds insulin in check, breaking your dependence on the quick fix of refined carbs.

This phase is also designed to jump-start weight loss. We don’t recommend it for the long-term (except for those with more extreme metabolic problems, like prediabetes). Most people can tolerate more carbs, and the next phases allow for more flexibility and adaptation.

Portion sizes are recommendations only: You’ll eat until you’re comfortably full, no more or less.

NovaLong Adaptive Phase

Phase 2 teaches your fat cells to stop hoarding calories. As fat cells calm down and begin to release their calorie stores back into the body, your brain will register that it has enough fuel to run your metabolism in optimum mode (perhaps for the first time in years). This phase will help you lose weight progressively until it stabilizes at a new, lower set point.

Phase 2 can last anywhere from several weeks to six months or more, depending on how much weight you want to lose. You will slightly decrease your intake of healthy fats and increase healthy carbs by adding in some grains and starchy vegetables. The amount of protein remains at 25 percent.

This is the basic plan. If you find you’re sensitive to processed carbs when they are added later in the program, you may do best returning and sticking to Phase 2 indefinitely. And if you aren’t tolerating the additional carbs here, you can always go back to Phase 1 meals at any time.

NovaLong Intuitive Phase

Your meals will consist of approximately 40 percent fat, 40 percent carbs, and 20 percent protein. (The classic Mediterranean diet has a similar nutrient ratio.)

With insulin finally in check, most people can tolerate the moderate increase in carbohydrates without weight regain. You may need more food to stay full in this phase, as you’re no longer burning off stored calories from body fat.

Phase 3 is for life. The focus here is experimentation: to create a personalized dietary blueprint that will serve you over time. We recommend limiting processed carbohydrates to no more than two servings a day, and to continue to emphasize healthy fats, protein, and vegetables.

Still, including more carbs here is optional, if you find your body can handle them without side effects (like cravings, mood swings, and weight gain). If you notice yourself getting voraciously hungry between meals, that’s a sign you’re not tolerating them well. (Remember, you can always return to the Phase 2 or even Phase 1 eating plan.) But if you’re feeling good, enjoy the extra flexibility.

Why lifestyle matters for weight loss?

The choice of what we eat does not exist in a vacuum. Everything we consume enters into a complex feedback system that’s continually influenced by the way we live. Our culture of sedentary living, excessive stress, and insufficient sleep creates changes in the body that, independent of the quality of our diet, can raise insulin, cause chronic inflammation, and drive fat cells to hoard too many calories. But if we make modest changes to how we move, relax, and sleep, we encourage fat cells to release trapped calories, leading to increased energy and a greater sense of well-being.

Stroll for your health

Italians have a name for their daily walk — the passeggiata (пасседжиата). It doesn’t involve pedometers or spandex; these walks are purely for pleasure. A passeggiata before nightfall can help recalibrate your body clock — and lower insulin levels.

Three 15-minute walks daily increase our ability to regulate blood sugar for the following 24 hours. This effect is most pronounced during the three hours after dinner.

Stroll for your health

Italians have a name for their daily walk — the passeggiata (пасседжиата). It doesn’t involve pedometers or spandex; these walks are purely for pleasure. A passeggiata before nightfall can help recalibrate your body clock — and lower insulin levels.

Three 15-minute walks daily increase our ability to regulate blood sugar for the following 24 hours. This effect is most pronounced during the three hours after dinner.

Lose weight while you sleep

More than 30 percent of adults get less than six hours of sleep per night. Among the biggest victims of sleep deprivation are our fat cells.

Previously scientists found that after healthy participants slept 4.5 hours a night for just four nights, the insulin sensitivity of their fat cells decreased by 30 percent.

Practice good habits of “sleep hygiene,” like avoiding screens for the hour before bed and keeping your bedroom free of electronics.

The 5-hour rule

One of the best ways to refine your eating habits over time is to tune in to your body over the five hours following a meal:

  • Do you feel completely satisfied but not overfull after eating?
  • Do you experience stable energy over the next few hours?
  • Do you develop a healthy appetite — but not a ravenous hunger — for the next meal, about five hours later?

If you answered no to any of these questions, ask yourself what changes in the quality and amount of food you need for optimal functioning throughout the day?

As you become more aware of your body’s individual responses and specific biological needs, you’ll find that your sense of well-being — physical, mental, and emotional — improves dramatically.