CU researchers: 'Colorado Diet' is key to losing weight, keeping it off

New diet book focuses on 'fixing' your metabolism

AURORA, Colo. - Two University of Colorado researchers say they have uncovered the secret to weight loss success in what many Coloradans are already doing right. Their new book promises to help people build a "mile-high metabolism."

The day Morgan Richards signed up for a pilot weight loss program at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, she weighed more than 250 pounds.

"I can't believe I just said that!" Richards told 7NEWS Reporter Jaclyn Allen with a laugh. "I've lied on my driver's license for years, Jaclyn."

Richards wanted to stop lying.  She had started gaining weight more than a decade ago, following fertility treatments.

"My husband and I eventually adopted a beautiful girl, but I couldn't get rid of the 'didn't-have-a-baby' weight," said Richards.

She tried everything -- diet programs, juice diets and diet books.

"My husband doesn't even want to know how much I spend on diet books!"

At one point, she realized she couldn't keep up with her now 10-year-old daughter, and really, she didn't want to.

That's the hard part of being overweight," said Richards. "You don't just have the oppression of the physical weight itself. You're emotionally weighed down."

When people are looking for a weight-loss last resort, they sometimes seek out Dr. Holly Wyatt and James Hill at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. They are weight loss experts who believe they've uncovered the secret to success after two decades of research.

They call it "The Colorado Diet."

"You know people in Colorado," said Hill. "They get up in the morning and say, 'What am I going to do today? Am I going to climb a mountain? Am I going to go for a hike?' That's not seen everywhere."

Colorado has frequently been named the leanest state in the nation, and in Wyatt and Hill's book, "State of Slim," they emphasize the lifestyle and diet choices that are working for people who have lost weight and are keeping it off.

"You actually need to work heavily on the diet in the beginning to get some of the weight off," explained Wyatt, "and the order matters."

Here are five core rules of The Colorado Diet:

- Eat six times a day

- Have breakfast within a hour of waking up

- Don't count calories, measure portions

- Have the right carb and protein mix at every meal

- Eat a healthy fat, twice a day

In phase one, the first two weeks, the recommended diet is very restrictive, with plenty of lean meat and Greek yogurt, but no fruit or bread.

This is when dieters are revving up what Wyatt and Hill call "A Mile High Metabolism."

"If you have a flexible metabolism, you can have a healthy, varied diet. If you don't, you have have to be very restrictive to succeed," said Hill.

So, in phase two and three, dieters can add more foods, but must also dramatically increases exercise -- 70 minutes a day, six days a week.

They also emphasize forming rituals and routines that will aid new, healthy habits.

"For me, I cannot have chips. I will eat the entire bag of chips. I'll think about it -- it will drive me crazy," admits Wyatt. "So, one of my routines, rituals, is I never go down the chip aisle in the grocery store. Just don't go down it."

After a year on the Colorado Diet as part of a pilot program at the Wellness Center, Morgan Richards has lost 70 pounds.

"I'm not going to sit here and say it was easy," said Richards. "It's actually been a lot of work."

Richard works out at the state-of-the-art center and attended classes once a week to help her learn healthy habits.

She planted a garden. She engages more with her family. She is proud of how far she has come.

"I did a tabata spin class on Monday. Me!" she exclaimed. "And I'm going to be 50 next year! Also, can't believe I'm going to say that."

Morgan said she still has 20 pounds to go, but she's honest about it now. She feels with the structure and support she has found on the Colorado Diet, she will never go back.

"In some ways, I feel it gave back the energy and essence I had in my 20s and some of the positivism," she said. "But it's better because I'm older and wiser."

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