An article on what research says about losing weight and keeping it off
Posted Jan 17 2013 8:34pm
How is that for World’s Longest Title? I am sure this will get me a lot of traffic, too. This kind of title does that.
I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Chris Kresser . He writes quite smartly about weight loss and, in particular, he deals with a lot of clients who struggle with weight loss and system imbalances. Many of these people have tried all different diets as well, from Paleo to low-carb to low fat, etc., and just are stuck. One thing I like about him is that while he tends towards Paleo style eating, he is not averse to carbs in the form of potatoes and some things like rice if you can tolerate it (same with dairy). He keeps an open mind. You know there is a lot of diet dogma out there and people will defend their eating style to the death, so it’s refreshing to come across someone like that.
Anyway – way off track there. Chris also does a podcast which is quite interesting and covers a lot of different health aspects. He happened to have another researcher who specializes in the brain and obesity (and blogs about it here ) on his show who I also enjoy reading by the name of Stefan Guyenet. He is an obesity researcher and his posts are quite thoughtful on the subject.
Here is a link to the podcast transcription . You can either read the transcript or listen to the podcast. (I like reading because I can skim to parts that interest me the most).
He talks a bit about setpoint and the difficulty in maintaining weight loss. Here is this quote “
So, when you lose a bunch of weight, one of the things that happens when you’re below where your body wants you to be is you’re hungry. You don’t get full with the same amount of food. Your body just wants you to keep eating and eating to replenish that body fat. You know, it’s like if you skip a few meals, you’re hungrier when you do start eating again.
I find this interesting because I used to be able to eat less calories and not be hungry. Now I get very hungry. These are the times I wonder if my body wants to be a lot heavier than it is. And I am still in the overweight category, too.
Stephan also has a theory about food palatability going along with obesity. And I think we get that with how addicting certain types of food can be, like sweets or whatever.
The basic idea is that food, depending on its specific properties, has a certain motivational value associated with it and also a certain enjoyment value associated with it. The motivational value is called reward, and the enjoyment value is called palatability. Just to illustrate that, I’ll give you a little example. You’re in a restaurant. You just had a big meal, a really nice meal. You’re full. And then the waiter brings out a plate with a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on it, and they put it right in front of you, and the smell is wafting up your nose. What are you going to do? Are you going to eat it, or are you not? And if you don’t eat it, how hard was it? You wanted to eat it. Or if you don’t like brownies, put something else in there that you do enjoy. But what happens if that waiter had brought out a plate of steamed, plain potatoes and put it on your plate? You’re stuffed after this meal, and they bring out steamed potatoes with nothing on them. No salt, nothing. Are you going to dive into those potatoes? Of course not.
It’s nice to see researchers actually working on this and not just saying you have no willpower. There is also a link to a diet motivator plan called Dan’s Plan, just to let you know. I won’t include the link here because it is in the podcast, but it has some free tools that you might find interesting the keep your behaviors motivating. There is also a paid option, but I didn’t click on that, so I can’t say much about it.
Anyway, I just thought some of you might enjoy this article. It also talks at length about how sleep (or lack thereof) affects weight loss as well.
Also, the site is really a gold mine of health info in the podcasts, so dig around there.