The big one: "All successful diets share three precepts: Low sugar, high fiber (which means high micronutrients), and fat and carbohydrate consumed together [only] in the presence of an offsetting amount of fiber. Anything after that is window-dressing."
This explains why diets as varied as the Atkins Diet, the Ornish Diet, the vegan diet and the Paleo Diet all can result in weight loss -- they all limit sugar, and they either reduce fat (Ornish, vegan) or carbs (Atkins, Paleo) to reduce the load on the liver. But Dr. Lustig isn't a fan of going to extremes, as some of these can. He doesn't see a need to cut out dairy (Atkins, Paleo) or all dietary fat (Ornish).
I was able to pick out a few more specific recommendations:
- At all costs, avoid soda and other sweet drinks like VitaminWater, sports drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks. Juice is also out -- fruit and vegetables should be eaten with all their fiber intact. He doesn't seem enthusiastic about diet drinks either. Plain, unsweetened milk is fine, even though it contains milk sugars, because of its nutritional value.
- Keep sodas and junk food out of the house.
- "Eat real food." Eat foods in their natural form, not pulverized, juiced, or processed.
- Stay out of fast food restaurants.
- Avoid trans fats. They can't be digested or metabolized properly, and they are only found in foods that are highly processed.
- Limit refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta.
- Eat breakfast, preferably with plenty of protein. Eating early has a lot of benefits for hormonal balance and satiety. If you skip breakfast, you will more than make up for the "saved" calories by eating too much the rest of the day.
- Avoid eating at night.
- Get good sleep, again because of the importance to hormonal balance.
- Exercise, not for its calorie burn, but because of all the other benefits: burning liver and muscle fat, increasing insulin sensitivity, and reducing stress and cortisol levels.
I think it would be hard to follow all of Dr. Lustig's recommendations, so I found it comforting to hear in an interview that he doesn't follow them all the time either. He said in an interview that he eats a half a bagel with cheese for breakfast, and sometimes he has a hard time finding food for lunch that's not processed.
For me, the easy ones are: No soda or juice, no fast food, eat breakfast, exercise.
The hard ones: Avoiding eating at night. I love to have a snack while watching TV at night, a double whammy. And the hardest -- always eating food in its natural form. I bought a whole bunch of whole grains like amaranth, barley, etc. I like quinoa sometimes. No whole grain has the simple, comfort-food appeal of bread, pasta, white rice, mashed potatoes. With those, I limit portions and try to have them with fiber and/or protein to try to minimize the damage. And, did I say I exercise a lot?