MUCH OF the industrialized world is overweight. In America, obesity and its disease-related manifestations are threatening the capacity of the health care system.
Every year, millions of people try to lose weight. Most fail not only to lose it, but to keep the extra weight off – despite the constant, ubiquitous slimming fads and advice.
So, what really works?
In this post, I’ll summarize and present in six parts a program in which medical journalist Michael Mosley investigates the latest scientific breakthroughs in slimming.
Watch Michael uncover ten scientific, simple ways you can shed pounds. From the slimming secrets of soup to our brain’s response after skipping meals, what he discovers may completely change the way you think about diets, health and losing weight.
Here are the “10 things you need to know about losing weight”, followed by a summary of each video of the six-part program:
1. Don’t skip meals.
3. Count your calories.
4. Your metabolism is not the problem.
5. Protein diminishes hunger.
6. Soup keeps you fuller for longer.
7. The wider your choice, the more you eat.
8. Low-fat dairy helps excrete more fat (must be calorie neutral).
9. Exercise burns fat long after you stop, even while you sleep.
10. Keep moving to lose weight.
UPDATE: Apparently, Yahoo had to take down this documentary (click play in the videos below to get the message), but I found another source, at least for now. Click 10 Unusual Tips About Losing Weight and you’ll get to a site that will run the entire one hour video. Suggest you still read the summaries below to reinforce this insightful material. yep.
Part 1 – Eat All Your Meals
Michael is a former medical doctor and now is a medical journalist in the UK. He’s the investigator for this program that reveals the 10 things you need to know about losing weight.
In part 1, Michael gets tested. He appears to be normally proportioned, but it’s revealed that he has too much internal (visceral) fat around his internal organs. Unlike obvious (subcutaneous) fat, Michael’s visceral fat is hidden inside the body, and is dangerous. Too much visceral fat can lead to heart disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.
Skimping meals, like breakfast, is the exact opposite of what you want to do to lose weight, as Michael’s brain scan demonstrates.
Part 2 – Cut Calories by Cutting Plate Size
When we’re hungry, our brains shouts for calorie dense foods, much of it unhealthy. If not very hungry, our brains are quite satisfied with lean food. It’s all quite unconscious. If you skip a meal, the next one will be have too many calories.
Although it’s here recommended that three meals be eaten each day, my research and experience says that five are even better. When you eat five meals a day, it’s assured that you never get hungry. Of course, the calories must all add up to the level required to meet your goal. For that to happen, the main three meals must have fewer calories than normal, so there’s room for the smaller, two in-between meals.
Michael’s a bit lazy. He doesn’t want to take much time to prepare food, and he’s allergic to exercise. What then works for him are simple, modest things, such as reducing his plate size. Studies demonstrate that you eat less if served in a smaller plate, as much a 22% less food over all.
Of course, what and how much you put on your plate is important. Even though Michael was a medical doctor, he’s confused about hidden calories. For instance, he dramatically underestimates the amount of calories in a fruit salad. Yes fruit is healthy but it does have calories.
So does coffee. If it’s “black”, no worries – black coffee only contains about 10 calories. But if your morning habit is cappuccino, that’s 100 calories. Two apples are 100 calories, whereas a chocolate bar is 300. Bloody Mary = 125; Pina Colada = 280. The overarching point here is that by choosing the lower calorie count option, you can often reduce your calorie consumption by half, and be well on your way to losing weight.
But what about those people who claim they eat right, exercise and still are fat? Can the culprit simply be a “slow metabolism”? At the end of Part 2, an overweight actress, “Debbie”, who makes these claims is examined, the results of which carry on to Part 3.
Part 3 – Don’t Blame Your Metabolism…. Metabolism and Protein
Debbie is correct that the metabolic rate is simply how many calories your body uses to stay alive – heart pumping, breathing, etc. She’s tested for metabolic rate. And it’s normal, so that’s not the boogey man. She eats healthily, so why is she overweight?
She keeps a food diary and a video journal, and her urine is tested to determine how many calories she burns versus eats. Very revealing! Although in her diary, Debbie records only 1,100 calories, the tests show that she really consumed nearly triple that, a whopping 3,000 calories!
Statistics show that on average, we underreport or calorie consumption by about 50%.
So, what to do? Get better at portion control and truly know your calorie consumption. But also, learn what foods help create satiation – such as foods rich in lean protein.
Three guys volunteer to test this, each getting a different breakfast with the EXACT same calories. The difference is the proportion of fats, carbs and protein. One guy’s breakfast has 10% more protein in his breakfast.
Part 4 – Eat Breakfast, Eat Protein, Eat Soup
The protein-eating breakfast guy winds up feeling fuller, longer, and thus will less likely overeat at his next meal.
Why does protein make you feel full?
When you eat, the PYY hormone suppressed hunger pangs in brain. Protein triggers more of it in the brain than any other food.
For the next test, the military was inducted. Two groups, each eating the exact same meal, but one had it blended and heated as a soup, and the other ate it normally with a cup of water included. Their stomachs were given an ultra sound scan right after eating, and after their rigorous military training that day.
Which group stayed fuller, longer? The soup group did! Why? Because the water taken with the regular meal briefly expanded the stomachs and then travelled straight through leaving less volume of food in the stomach; whereas, the soup increased the overall volume of food in the stomach.
Michael reports that this is one tip that “has completely changed my life.”
Part 4 ends by introducing the dilemma of “choice”. Turns out, we humans can’t resist seeking out variety in food, which affects how much we eat. Variety can be good, but perhaps not at a buffet. Buffets can induce you to eat 30% more than what you’d eat when exposed to a limited variety from which to chose
Part 5 – Low-Fat Dairy Can Help You Lose Weight (Maybe)
And now, we get into the controversy over whether dairy products are good for you or not, a topic that’s vigorously debated among everyone that examines the subject. Is it even remotely possible that the fat in dairy products could actually help you absorb fewer calories?
Yep. Turns out, the calcium in dairy products binds to fat molecules in food and so the fat and calcium passes right through you.
A cheese fanatic volunteers for an experiment to test this theory. For one week “Alex” eats a diet low in dairy, and the second week eats a diet high in dairy, but each having the same calorie count. In each week, the dairy consumed was low-fat.
Result… Alex excreted twice as much fat on the high than on the low dairy diet.
This gives me pause…or another way to put it, cognitive dissonance, because it challenges my belief system which generally speaking purports that cow’s milk (and its derivatives) is for calves, not humans. Faced with this experiment, I guess I’m going to hold on to the idea that dairy is not particularly well suited to humans from an overall health perspective, but could help eliminate fat from food.
That said, remember one very important point: The benefit in fat excretion from the higher lean-dairy scenario could only happen relative to its low lean-dairy counterpart if: 1) the dairy is low-fat, and 2) the total calorie count between the scenarios is the same… in other words, if you begin eating more calories in your dairy-infused diet than you regularly do, you will not lose weight.
Now to everybody’s favorite topic - exercise.
Michael is unequivocally anti-exercise, so if he can find a way to do it, you can too. He was put on a treadmill for 90 minutes and was tested. He “burned off” just 191 calories, or 19 grams of fat for his 90 minutes of effort. The poor dejected man wandered off, but returned the next day to measure his metabolic rate. On exercise day during the exercise, he burned 19 grams of fat, but the next day – doing nothing sweat-breaking, he burned 49 grams of fat – and that just was during the morning!
That explanation is in Part 6.
Part 6 – Afterburn and (more on) Metabolism
You burn fat even after exercise because you primarily use your carbs during the exercise (unless exercising for a very long period of time), and it takes time to replace them, so in the meantime, your body burns fat for energy.
But what can the fervently anti-exercise types do?
Can small daily changes help burn more fat?
“Amy” is the subject here. She basically moves very little, housework being the apex of her energetic outburst. She is tested and it confirms her sessile nature. The goal for her is to move more… not a huge amount, but little bits, like walking up the escalator; walk while talking; stand rather than sit.. that sorta thing.
These small changes were recorded. The result – her heart rate was more frequently raised and she burned 240 more calories each day. If she did this for a year, she could lose about 26 pounds. Of course, you can’t increase your calories while adding this moderate amount of movement.
Back to our host, Michael: He’s has been following these 10 tips, and over four months has lost 11 pounds. At 2.75 pounds per month, that’s not a lot of fat, but remember, he did it with small changes that were easily absorbed by his attitudes and lifestyle. Much more weight could be lost with a less modest program.
Well, this was a long post, but I hope that it was interesting, revealing and motivating. If you have some weight-loss tips, please share them in the “Comments” section below.
Published on July 12, 2010