If you are like most people who have tried to lose weight, you’ve done it by going on a diet, exercising more, or both. Maybe it has worked for a while and maybe it hasn’t, but no matter what the outcome, you probably noticed that it was extremely difficult.
You might have done fine for a while, as you were all fired up about your new plan, but eventually, your body cried out against the deprivation. The urge to eat the foods that got you in trouble became too strong. The temptation to skip one day of exercise, and then another, overwhelmed you. Before you knew what was happening, you were back where you started.
Why Diets Fail in The Long Run
There is a very specific reason why diets fail: Our bodies are not primed to succeed.
Diet failure has nothing to do with your willpower. You are not at fault. If your body is not prepared for weight loss, you will fight a biochemical uphill battle, and the odds of winning, or maintaining any weight loss, are slim.
Wouldn’t it be easier to prime your body to lose weight, so that lifestyle and habit changes were easy instead of excruciating? Of course, it would. And that is exactly what happens in what I call “The Prime Method.”
By gradually making a few easy changes over time, and not forcing yourself to give up one single thing that you love, you’ll gently prime your organs, gut bacteria, and mind for success. The best part is that even as you prime your body and mind, you’ll start losing weight spontaneously as your habits and choices naturally veer toward healthy—almost without effort.
The “Backwards” Way I Made My Discovery
As an integrative neurologist, I treat people for neurological problems like migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and seizures. The first thing I look at with a new patient is how to reduce the levels of inflammation and toxicity in the body and heal the gut-brain connection, both of which have a profound effect on neurological symptoms.
Early on in my practice, however, I noticed something curious. After a few weeks of treatment for their neurological condition, many of my overweight patients casually mentioned to me, “Oh, by the way, I’m losing weight. Thanks!”
I made a mental note of this but didn’t think anything of it, until it started to happen a lot. Within a month or two, some would confide, “Dr. Chaudhary, I must thank you! I lost 20 pounds” or “I’m down 30 pounds now, and I wasn’t even trying!”
Finally, I decided that my patients’ weight loss couldn’t be a coincidence. It had to be related to my neurological “gut-brain reset” regimen. I began to track weight loss more diligently in my patients, and sure enough, in those that had weight to lose, some lost a little, and some lost a lot.
A few lost 100 pounds or even a little more, but the average weight loss was between 20 and 30 pounds over the course of the treatment protocol. Many of my patients who had struggled with weight issues for decades found themselves at a weight any BMI calculator would deem “normal.”
Weight Loss Was Never My Expectation
I’m not a weight loss doctor or even a general practitioner. It never dawned on me that the way I was treating my patients for their neurological symptoms was also a highly effective way to treat weight issues.
Yet, I was seeing significant spontaneous reductions in excess body weight, along with improved cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and of course, neurological symptoms. My patients looked thinner, felt more energetic, had less pain, suffered from fewer symptoms, and looked (and were) healthier people.
How did this happen? The answer is surprisingly simple: Weight gain is a result of the body being in a toxic, inflammatory state. When you’re in a toxic state…
- Your gut bacteria become tailored toward toxic foods, so they induce reactions in your brain to reward you to feed them the sugar and fat they need to survive.
- Your brain has become addicted to junk food because that is exactly what junk food is engineered to do.
- Your body is unable to remove the excess toxic buildup which seeps into your organs, including your brain, resulting in brain fog, lack of energy, and a leaky gut.
If you reduce the toxic load and inflammation and bolster the body’s natural detoxification systems (particularly digestion), the body’s own fat loss and weight maintenance systems kick in. Weight loss feels spontaneous because the body is doing it for you by changing your impulses and preferences based on its changing internal biochemical environment.
Asking someone in a toxic inflammatory state to “just eat less and exercise more” is like asking someone with a broken leg to enter a dance contest or asking a drug addict to just stop doing drugs. You aren’t just fighting your desire for a cookie. You’re fighting against your own biochemistry. Your body doesn’t want to stop consuming too many calories, and it doesn’t want to move very much.
The Solution: Diet in Reverse
It’s time to up-end the situation and throw your diet into reverse. Before you start trying to make major behavioral changes, I recommend that you detoxify, recalibrate your gut bacteria, balance your brain chemistry, and cool any inflammation. This sets the proper foundation for your behavioral changes to have the most impact.
I also don’t like to tell my patients to stop eating anything that they love. Instead, I introduce them to my favorite Ayurvedic herbal remedies that help prime your body for success, which is why they are an essential part of The Prime Method.
Triphala, an ancient Ayurvedic herb, is the closest thing I’ve found to a miracle cure. Triphala is made from three dried berries that work synergistically together: amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki.
Triphala has many health benefits, but it’s most commonly known for its use as a mild laxative. It heals the mucosal lining and the nerves in the gut to promote normal digestion. Instead of forcing your colon to expel its contents, triphala helps the colon do what it’s naturally supposed to do.
Unlike a laxative, you can take triphala for digestion for a while, then stop for a bit because it has already done its work. I’ve taken 500 mg of triphala twice daily 2–3 times a week for 15 years. I don’t take it for its laxative effects. I take it because modern life is stressful, and those stresses send a lot of signals that interfere with our gut-brain connection. Triphala is my gut rescue herb from the effects of modern life.
Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng, is a popular medicinal herb in India. It’s an excellent remedy for stress, low energy and cravings, especially sugar. Ashwagandha is one of a few known herbal adaptogens, which means it specifically helps the body adapt to stress in a healthy way. In fact, it’s one of the best ways I know to normalize an elevated stress response in the brain and body.
Ashwagandha also strengthens an exhausted nervous system and calms emotions, counteracting anxiety, agitation, stress, and PMS. As ashwagandha helps to decrease the stress response, it weakens the food addiction cycle.
As a general recommendation when it comes to ashwagandha for stress relief, I like to start people with 500 mg twice a day and, if needed, work up to 2 grams per day. Higher doses can be used for specific conditions, but you should work with your health care practitioner to titrate up to those doses.
Brahmi is another herb that breaks the food addiction cycle. It’s considered a “brain tonic” because it has a positive effect on cognitive function, memory, concentration, and intelligence. In The Prime, Brahmi helps to normalize the release of dopamine and correct the pleasure circuits that have been overloaded and exhausted from food addictions.
It’s best to take Brahmi with ashwagandha since they act synergistically, balancing the stress response and reducing cravings, so you can feel less anxious and more focused as you heal. As Brahmi helps to normalize the dopamine pathways related to the formation of food addictions, ashwagandha helps to reduce the impact of chronic stress on the body and mind.
As with ashwagandha, I like to start people with 500 mg twice a day and, if needed, work up to 2 grams daily.
Guggul, a resin from the myrrh tree, is the most powerful detoxifier I know. While you need triphala to support guggul’s actions, guggul is the real superstar.
Triphala prepares your body for detoxification, and guggul is like an ama (toxin) bulldozer. Specifically, guggul boosts the detoxification power of the liver by increasing the quantity of cytochrome P450 enzymes, a family of liver enzymes responsible for detoxification.
Guggul also upregulates the secretion of bile salts that specifically help remove fat from the liver. This is one of the mechanisms behind the ancient claim that guggul lowers blood cholesterol and fights obesity and heart disease. In Ayurveda, it is said that guggul scrapes the ama or toxins out of the organs. Guggul also sends a signal to the organs to start mobilizing these toxins for removal.
Most people on The Prime get good results on 500 mg twice a day. Whenever I take guggul, I make sure I am getting enough rest and providing my body with the nutrients it needs to fuel the work it’s doing through the detoxification process. That’s why guggul is part of my annual cleanse either in the spring or the fall.
Seeds of Wisdom
As a holistically trained doctor who combines ancient concepts from the Indian medical science of Ayurveda with contemporary Western medical knowledge of neurology, I know that this approach to weight loss (and brain health) works.
I have seen it time and time again in my clinic, which has expanded to treat not just neurological symptoms but all other health issues as well. My approach is steeped in both Western and Ayurvedic medicine, and it has changed lives. It is a plan for regaining the body’s natural healing power and keeping it forever.
Once you’ve established the gut-brain connection, which helps you determine what is good for you and what’s not, you can become your own best expert. No one else understands your body as well as you do. You just have to wake up to its needs and break free of the biochemical chains that were dictating your actions.