Losing weight is something that has been notoriously difficult for people to do as long as they have been trying to do it. In Victorian England a man called William Banting began the first weight loss craze.

He was fed up with being a short, stout man, and resolved to do something about it. He stripped out starchy foods completely, lost weight and then wrote to various magazines telling them of his remarkable feat. It was the of the low-carb diet.

Then came a host of new diets in the 1950s and 1960s that tried to get people to restrict the number of calories they ate. There was no denying the second law of thermodynamics, they said. If a person was overweight, it was because they had flooded their body with more energy than it needed. There was a simple solution; reduce calories.

But it soon became apparent to these early weight loss gurus that reducing calories didn’t work. Success rates were down in the doldrums, hovering around 5%. Hardly anybody could keep up a low-calorie regimen for years on end and enjoy their lives at the same time. Almost everybody broke.

Most researchers stuck to the dogma that calories are all that matter. And, technically speaking, they are correct. But they miss out on one fundamental point. The type of food you eat itself determines how many calories you are likely to eat.

Yes, it’s possible to get fat eating strawberries, if you take in too many calories. But considering that a large punnet of strawberries only has about 100 calories, you’d have to eat thousands of them each day. Unlike 2000 calories of chocolate, 2000 calories of strawberries are going to fill you up.

Recently there has been a surge of interest in so-called nutraceuticals. These are plant compounds usually that have weight loss properties. Reviews on Garcinia Cambogia, for instance, suggest that it may work to fight obesity.

The premise behind nutraceuticals is that they’re able to undo the metabolic damage. In other words, they go into the body burning energy normally again. When the body is out of whack, it’s ability to use energy is reduced.

This is especially apparent in people that are pre-diabetic. They tend to have enormous appetites because their cells aren’t able to get energy. The insulin in their blood can’t get sugar into cells efficiently.

Usually, the problem here is that their cells are gummed up. Saturated fat inside the cell has blocked the ability of insulin to get sugar into the cell. And this is where certain plant chemicals come in.

The theory is that plant chemicals can grease the metabolic wheels inside the cell. This means that insulin can better do its job. And it means that people are less likely to feel hungry because their cells can finally use energy.

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