As far as diets are concerned, there are two main schools of thought: low carb diets and low fat diets. BOTH will help you lose weight. The one you choose is going to be unique to your individual lifestyle.

How Can I Lose Weight if I Eat Rice?

Is it possible to lose weight by eating rice? Yes. The reason for this has to do with how your body converts food to fuel. The energy sources your body uses, in terms of easiest to hardest to convert are:

Alcohol -> Carbohydrates -> Fats -> Proteins

ALCOHOL?!?!?

Yes. Allah (SWT) has placed a restriction on alcohol for good reason. Our body can convert alcohol to energy very efficiently. So efficiently in fact, that we only need very little alcohol compared to the equivalent amount of food. The rest of the alcohol cannot be stored and instead floats in your blood stream directly to your organs and wreaking havoc on your heart, brain, lungs, etc.

Not only is alcohol psychologically addictive, but our livers get used to not having to work so hard, and over time will become almost atrophied like unused muscles. This affects the body’s ability to extract, store and transport minerals and nutrients, which along with flushing out toxins, is the liver’s primary purpose.

Carbohydrates

This is the most relied on source of energy for our body in the world. Most indigenous diets include carbs as staples, and as we moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers, we can see why. It’s easy to grow, can be made into many dishes, and feeds many with a small amount. Rice, bread, pasta, and root vegetables like cassava are all types of carbs. Our body can convert carbs to energy quite quickly. The difference between carbs and alcohol (besides the damaging health effects), is that the body CAN store excess carbs in the cells and organs. What is immediately needed is transported to cells for use, some excess is stored in the liver to control blood sugar levels, and the rest is then converted to fat. The beauty of this from a physiological perspective is that fat cells have *unlimited* storage. This is evident when you see people that are morbidly obese. 

Fats

Poor fats have gotten such a bad reputation over the last 30-40 years. Here’s the thing: fat is not bad for you. As a matter of fact, it’s essential for your health. Your brain is pretty much fat, cholesterol and water. 

Not all fats are created equal. I’m not saying that going out to eat crisps and cakes will help you lose weight. Choosing the right fats though, healthy fats, can definitely help with a ton of things like lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, helping you lose weight, and increasing concentration concentration among other things.

So how does the body like fats? Well, most of us eat too many carbohydrates, which have been converted to fat and stored on our organs. Using fat for energy is not as efficient as using carbs, so as long as we continue to eat carbs, the body will ignore, and continue to add to, the fat stores that we have saved for a rainy day.

So You’re Saying Eat Fats?

Not at all. This is where the whole Atkins, Keto, Slimming World, Cambridge, Gaps, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free and whatever else diet debate comes in. Not every diet works for every person. Just as we are all unique in the way we look, feel, act, etc, our bodies take in nutrients and thrive in different ways depending on how we eat.

The reason both Slimming World and Atkins work even though they follow opposite dietary advice is because you are eliminating one of the two main energy sources for the body. In the case of Slimming World, you are eliminating fats (even the good ones) and in the case of Atkins, you are eliminating carbs (even the good ones). If you remove a primary source of energy for the body, you will lose weight.

How Do I Know Which Diet is Best?

I can’t tell you which diet is best for you precisely because we are all different. But as a side note, I would like to redefine the word diet. Diet is not a fad. A diet is a group of foods that you eat based on your culture, nationality, geographic location, health, etc. The first step to being healthy is having a healthy relationship with food. So instead of fad dieting, try to find a way to eat that suits your lifestyle.

If you are generally active, go to the gym, workout at home, run, cycle, zumba, etc, then a low fat diet like Slimming World would work well for you for two reasons: one, you are using the carbohydrates you are consuming, and second, you need carbs to be able to have the energy to do things like zumba. If any of you are from a country where carbs are a staple and you wonder how the elders managed to stay fit, it’s because despite consuming rice/bread/pasta, they were on their feet doing manual labour most days.

If you hate the gym, spend a lot of time sitting or driving, and don’t want to or don’t have a lot of time to do physical activity, then a low carb diet like Keto or Atkins would be ideal. Your sedentary lifestyle has probably contributed to a few extra pounds (I know mine has), and low carb diets have the added benefit of removing any fat deposits you may have on your organs already.

If you have a chronic illness like an autoimmune condition, then paleo or GAPS have been shown to have great results. Autoimmune flares are often the result of inflammation, and many foods that are not part of paleo and GAPS cause inflammation, like wheat or dairy.

Sometimes a shift like vegan or vegetarian is what the body needs. I have a friend that is in the best health after becoming a gluten free vegan.

Remember that whatever you choose as your diet, it should make you feel ok. You should feel better, have more energy, and be more alert. Losing weight is a byproduct of eating well. Most importantly, it should be sustainable. If you don’t feel like you can eat a certain way forever, then it’s probably not the right diet for you.