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September 17th | 2012
Nutritionist Robert Ferguson, famous for “The Diet-Free Life” weight-loss system knows how to shake up “established facts” in the food arena
No, he’s not joking, says nutritionist and “diet-free” guru Robert Ferguson, one of the country’s best known weight loss consultants. You can lose weight eating chocolate, eating pasta and drinking wine.
You can lose weight eating fried chicken and fast food. “I want to show people how they can lose weight eating how middle America really eats,” he says.
When Ferguson, a former Marine, spreads the word that nothing’s off limits when it comes to eating, the reaction isn’t always applause. Some get hot and bothered.
“The topics of food and diet are like religion and politics,” he says. People are passionate.
Medical doctors are often his biggest skeptics – initially–not surprising perhaps, since physicians have been chanting for decades about avoiding fats, sweets and alcohol. But Ferguson melts away resistance pointing out that people won’t gain the weight back if they get results eating the food they would anyway.
The determining factor: how much you eat. And how often: he says we should eat something, a little, every two or three hours.
“It’s all about the right intervals and the right combinations,” he says, adding that calories do matter—especially getting a variety of calories from the ladder of nutrients which places proteins on top.
He doesn’t discount carbohydrates either. Every person is different. The trick is to figure out your carbohydrate
threshold. “Some people can eat a lot of carbohydrates,” he says. “I’m one of those people who gain weight just looking at them.”
To help assess people’s tolerance, he’s created a new carb-step program that operates on the same idea as allergy testing: first you take foods out of a diet, then you slowly build them back in and monitor the reaction. He’s also keen on keeping an eye on hormone levels, particularly insulin, glucagon and cortisol, which can work together to turn the body into a revved-up, calorie-burning machine.
His campaign to change health professionals’ casino online attitudes about eating—and embrace his idea that nothing is off-limits–has been “A 100 percent upward battle,” but he’s making strides. One sign of his success: he’s scheduled to appear on The Doctors this fall.
Ferguson wasn’t always so flexible about what his clients should eat. In earlier days of his food coach career, he had hard and fast rules–among them, “If it’s white, it’s not right.”
He gave up his rigid ideas around the day a Filipino woman came to see him in his office. “So no flour, no sugar, no noodles, no rice?” she asked, after he ran down his diet plan. He nodded. She walked out the door and never came back.
A colleague pointed out that white rice was an integral component of the local diet in the Philippines. And that’s when he realized “You have to meet people where they’re at.”
Ferguson is quick to point out that like many of the people he advises, he, too, adores eating. “To me, food is the kitchen of the heart–it’s comforting, it’s great.” So nobody is more open-minded about special cravings.
One client hired him with the warning that she couldn’t go a day without eating chocolate and drinking some wine. She too dropped pounds when he guided her on how best to nibble a little chocolate every few hours through the day.
And while he doesn’t recommend a diet heavy on fast food, he’s is getting people how to rethink dining out. I’m not “The Big Mac Guy,” he says. “You will gain weight if you eat a Big Mac, fries, coke and a sundae.” Nevertheless he’s shown followers how they can lose weight even if they do dine at McDonalds, where he has been known to duck into while traveling. Ferguson typically opts for an Egg McMuffin, preferably one made with egg whites.