Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine November 2005

Cover Story

The Perricone Weight Loss Program

By Nicholas V. Perricone, MD

10 FOOD “SUPERGROUPS”

In order for any weight-loss program to 1) work, and 2) become a lifelong lifestyle, there have to be plenty of options available. If you feel hungry or deprived, you are on the wrong program.

I have put my favorite foods into what I call “SuperGroups.” Each SuperGroup is comprised of a different family of healthy, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity choices. The food I consider to be the healthiest choice in each group is labeled “Top Choice(s)” and is followed by other healthy (and tasty) choices I call “Runners-Up.”

SUPERGROUP #1: RICH COLD-WATER FISH

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTOR: Omega-3s
TOP CHOICE: Wild Alaskan Salmon
RUNNERS-UP: Sablefish, Sardines, Anchovies, Herring, North Atlantic Mackerel, Trout, Tuna

SUPERGROUP #2: FAVORITE FRUITS

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Fiber, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, and other Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICES: Apples, Pears, Grapefruit
RUNNERS-UP: All Berries, Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Pomegranates

SUPERGROUP #3: FATS FROM FRUITS TO FIGHT BODY FAT

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, Monounsaturated Fats
TOP CHOICES: Avocado, Açaí, Olives
RUNNER-UP: Coconut

SUPERGROUP #4: SPICE THINGS UP TO KEEP WEIGHT DOWN

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants and other Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICE: Cinnamon
RUNNERS-UP: Turmeric, Fenugreek, Cloves, Allspice, Nutmeg, Bay Leaf

SUPERGROUP #5: HEAT THINGS UP FOR BURNING FAT

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, Fiber, and Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICE: Chili Peppers
RUNNERS-UP: Cayenne, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes

SUPERGROUP #6: SEEDS AND NUTS TO FILL YOU UP

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, Essential Fats, Protein, Fiber, Lignans
TOP CHOICES: Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed
RUNNERS-UP: Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds

SUPERGROUP #7: BEANS AND LENTILS (LEGUME FAMILY)

FOR STABILIZING BLOOD SUGAR
FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Fiber, Resistant Starch, Starch Blockers, and Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICES: Dried Beans, including Kidney, Pinto, Navy, Red, and Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Mung Beans
RUNNERS-UP: All are recommended

SUPERGROUP #8: LOW-FAT PROBIOTIC DAIRY FOODS WITH CALCIUM FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND BONE HEALTH

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTOR: Nutraceutical Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICE: Low-Fat Yogurt
RUNNERS-UP: Low-Fat Kefir, Acidophilus Milk

SUPERGROUP #9: OLD-FASHIONED WHOLE GRAINS

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Fiber, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, and Other Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICES: Buckwheat, Oats
RUNNER-UP: Barley

SUPERGROUP #10: VIBRANT VEGETABLES

FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT-CONTROL FACTORS: Fiber, Low-Calorie/Low-Glycemic Nutrition, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, and other Phytonutrient Obesity-Fighters
TOP CHOICES: Garlic, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli Sprouts, Cruciferous Vegetables
RUNNERS-UP: Aromatic Culinary Herbs (e.g., Parsley, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano)

12 Nutritional Supplements That Facilitate Weight Loss While Maintaining Muscle Mass

The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet anti-inflammatory nutrients work in a special way to enhance loss of body fat, preserve muscle mass, and regulate levels of blood sugar and insulin, which are critical in the prevention and treatment of obesity.

These nutrients all have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. They’re an important adjunct to any health regimen, and particularly important for a weight-loss program.

Many of my patients have asked me over the years if it is possible to get all of the necessary nutrients from a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Alpha lipoic acid, for example, is one the most powerful and beneficial anti-inflammatory antioxidants and a very important nutrient for fighting aging and weight problems. However, there are no really adequate food sources for this nutrient. For optimum health and weight management, we do need to supplement. I always recommend that my patients take a complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

Fortunately, there are a number of outstanding supplements that really do help facilitate weight loss and maintain muscle mass. Each supplement has a distinct function, and they are all an important part of my own personal daily supplement regimen.

SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #1: OMEGA-3 FISH OIL

Omega-3 fish oil supplements (as well as eating the fish itself) are extremely important to the success of any weight-loss plan, the Perricone Weight-Loss Diet included. I truly believe that they may be one of the most perfect anti-inflammatories we have discovered thus far. However, it is still important to take a variety of nutritional supplements to ensure optimum protection and benefit.

The incredible anti-inflammatory power of omega-3 essential fatty acids found in the high-fat fish and in fish oil can accomplish the following:

  • reduce inflammation in all organ systems
  • accelerate the loss of body fat
  • elevate mood
  • improve attention span
  • stabilize blood sugar levels
  • lower insulin levels
  • create and maintain healthy serotonin levels
  • stop the roller-coaster effects of the carbohydrate highs and lows
  • decrease appetite
  • increase radiance to skin
  • increase health of the immune system
  • increase energy levels
  • decrease symptoms and severity of rheumatoid arthritis
  • reduce symptoms and severity of chronic skin conditions such as eczema
  • decrease cardiovascular risk

Omega-3 Fish Oil Tips

  • To avoid any dietary side effects from the omega-3 fish oils (such as belching or stomach upset), divide the dose into three. For example, if you are taking 3,000 mg per day of fish oil, take one 1,000 mg capsule with a meal three times per day.
  • Even though fish oil is basically a “food,” always check with your primary health-care professional before embarking on any new supplement. Any therapeutic intervention, even nutritional supplements, can be contraindicated in certain health conditions. This is especially true with heart patients. Numerous studies have shown that fish oil helps protect against sudden cardiac death and abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. However, according to a study in the June 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association, fish oil supplementation actually increased the rate of arrhythmia among patients who had an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

DOSAGE RECOMMENDATION:

For a regular weight-loss diet, take one 1000-mg capsule three times per day. If you need to lose a lot of weight or are trying to improve athletic performance, take three 1,000-mg capsules three times per day for a total of nine per day. Check with your physician before taking the larger dose.

SUPERSTAR SUPPLEMENT #2: ALPHA LIPOIC ACID (ALA)

Alpha lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It is found naturally in the body, locked inside the mitochondria. Lipoic acid is part of an enzyme complex called the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, making it intimately involved in the energy production of the cell. Alpha lipoic acid, like many of the other nutrients including acetyl-L-carnitine, carnitine, and CoQ10, enhances our ability to metabolize food into energy.

Unlike many other antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is strictly water soluble, or vitamin E, which is strictly fat soluble, alpha lipoic acid is soluble in both water and fat. This means that alpha lipoic acid can go to all parts of the cell, including the lipid (fat) portions such as the cell plasma membrane, as well as the interior of the cell (known as the cytoplasm) where water-soluble chemicals reside. Because of this unique property, alpha lipoic acid is often referred to as “the universal antioxidant.”

Needless to say, the amazing properties of alpha lipoic acid have placed it near and dear to my heart, both as a powerful ally in the anti-aging realm and also as an integral part of the Perricone Weight-Loss Diet. On a cellular level, alpha lipoic acid exerts a wide variety of positive actions, all of them anti-inflammatory. It also blocks the activation of transcription factor NfkB as well, if not better than, any other antioxidant/anti-inflammatory thus far discovered.

In addition to its function as a powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory, alpha lipoic acid increases the body’s ability to take glucose into the cells. This insulin-sensitizing effect is also seen in some of the other nutrients that we have discussed. These nutrients all work synergistically to increase sensitivity to insulin, resulting in decreased blood sugar levels. Like carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid is also very powerful in preventing glycation.

ALA works synergistically with CoQ10, carnitine, and acetyl-L-carnitine to protect and rejuvenate the mitochondria. If we recognize that an aging cell is characterized by decreased energy production, it is easy to see the importance of any substance that can increase energy levels in the cell, allowing the cells to repair themselves in the same way that young cells do. ALA also works synergistically with other antioxidants to raise levels of vitamins C and E, CoQ10, and glutathione in the cell.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Tips

  • In the metabolic cycle, alpha lipoic acid acts as a coenzyme in the production of energy by converting carbohydrates into energy (ATP).
  • ALA is the only antioxidant that can boost cellular levels of glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant to overall health and longevity.
  • Take with meals.

DOSAGE RECOMMENDATION:

Because alpha lipoic acid is found only in trace amounts in food, it must be taken as a supplement.