Everyone knows that keto works — and that it’s incredibly challenging to sustain. “Suggesting that patients ‘give up’ all carbs is easy to say, but very hard to do. If you can’t stick with it — and most people can’t — we’ve discovered your plan B,” asserts Louis J. Aronne, M.D., an internationally recognized weight-management expert who admits that when he cuts carbs, he feels lousy.
Fortunately, he and his team at the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine have uncovered a way to fool the body into thinking you’re on a low-carb diet — even when you’re not!
Eat your protein, vegetables, and fat first.
“Our research has shown that eating protein, non-starchy vegetables, and fat before any carbohydrates helps mimic how the body responds when you cut out carbs altogether — but it’s a lot easier. The effect is comparable to the short-term effect of some diabetes drugs,” says Dr. Aronne, who has specialized in weight loss for more than 30 years. “What we’ve found is that you can have your cake and eat it too… as long as you enjoy it after your vegetables and protein.”
This tiny but powerful food re-sequencing short-circuits the body’s insulin-producing system. “Carbs — especially highly processed carbs — are very easy for the body to digest. They break down quickly and flood the bloodstream,” Dr. Aronne explains. This causes levels of the fat-storage hormone insulin to spike and instructs the body to hoard excess calories as fat. “But vegetables, protein, and fat are harder for the body to break down.” As a result, the body has to release a variety of digestive enzymes and hormones to process these more complicated foods — and these compounds all slow the release of insulin.
Indeed, Dr. Aronne’s studies show that simply eating chicken and veggies before carbs blunts fat-packing insulin spikes by 37 percent and lowers overall insulin levels by 50 percent, which triggers the body to start releasing stuck-on pounds.
“When insulin comes down like that, it means the body is handling blood sugar much better,” explains nutrition expert Paul Arciero, Ph.D. “It also means fat burning — especially around the abdominal area — has gone way up.” Studies confirm it: People who eat their carbs last lose significantly more fat and less calorie-burning lean muscle than those who eat their carbs first.
Eating carbs last also significantly diminishes hunger and cravings. “In our studies, we gave subjects the same amount of food,” says Dr. Aronne. “They ate the same meal in a different order, but the carbs-last eaters had less appetite and a better metabolic outcome. And it’s a prolonged effect,” he explains. “You’ll feel fuller sooner and longer. It puts you back in control so you can eat less without trying.” Dr. Aronne’s studies show that beginning a meal with protein and vegetables dramatically lowers levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and keeps it down for at least three hours.
Best of all: You don’t have to skip your favorite foods. “Even if you’re at a party, you can use my strategy and still enjoy yourself,” Dr. Aronne promises. And he has thousands of success stories backing him up: “This plan definitely tricked my body,” says Jenny Hutt, who lost 70 pounds working with Dr. Aronne. “The amazing thing is that you have the freedom to enjoy many foods. It’s a pleasure to feel full and satisfied and lose weight,” raves the Sirius XM radio host.
Struggle-free slimming is just the beginning. “You should have more energy and sleep better,” assures Dr. Aronne. “It’s not that this diet necessarily works better than others, but it feels good, so you actually do it!” Fifty-year-old Kim Moore, who decided to follow the carbs-last strategy when weight-loss specialist Jade Teta, creator of the Metabolic Renewal diet and workout plan, suggested it, couldn’t agree more: “I feel more energized and stronger than when I was in my twenties and thirties! This one thing really reshaped my body.”
Ready to start? Read on for three delicious ways to speed up slimming!
Eat pasta this way.
Once cooled, pasta has 10 times more resistant starch — an indigestible type of fiber. And according to Dr. Aronne, this starch helps feed the gut bacteria that speed slimming. To get the benefits, make a double batch of pasta, eat half per usual, then store the leftovers in the fridge to reheat later in the week.
‘Sweeten’ with cinnamon.
Unlike artificial sweeteners, which increase the body’s production of the fat-packing hormone insulin, cinnamon has been shown to stabilize insulin levels and boost fat burn. Dr. Aronne recommends adding two teaspoons of cinnamon to protein shakes or coffee each day.
Add some snap to dinner.
Enjoying your vegetables al dente (until they’re cooked but still a bit firm) helps dial down appetite, says Dr. Aronne, because they take longer to digest. To get the benefits, try lightly steaming or stir-frying instead of boiling or roasting your vegetables. Bonus: This method also preserves more slimming nutrients.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.